Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 269-285

First online:

Hermeneutics and philology: “Understanding the matter,” “Understanding the text”

  • István M. FehérAffiliated withFaculty of Arts, Philosophy Department, ELITE University

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In Gadamer's hermeneutics the relationship of philology to philosophy and to the Geisteswissenschaften often became a focus of his hermeneutical reflection. In the first part of my contribution, I investigate and reconstruct this relationship in Gadamer's thinking. In the second part, I take up a recent debate about Gadamer in Hungary, and in connection with it offer a case study in which Gadamerian thinking is present in a twofold way: as that with which I am reflecting and at the same time what it is about – the object of this reflection. The first part comes to the conclusion that the interconnectedness of philology and philosophy, with each side referring to the other, is central to Gadamer's work; it is moreover the “element” in which Gadamer's writings move. It is the focus on the text as text versus a focus on the text as the mediator of a matter [Sache] that makes the difference between philology and philosophy. This difference may give rise to a kind of tension, and this is addressed in the second part of the paper, by way of showing a passage from Gadamer's work susceptible to philological objections.