Hans-georg Gadamer and the Harmony of Word and Deed
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Hans-georg Gadamer and the Harmony of Word and Deed. (2018). The Political Science Reviewer, 42(1), 146-166. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/538


Hans-georg Gadamer was born in 1900 in Marburg, and died in 2002 in Heidelberg. He studied at the University of Marburg under the neo-Kantian Paul Natorp, defending his dissertation on Plato in 1922. He moved to the University of Freiburg, where he met Martin Heidegger, whom he followed back to Marburg when Heidegger gained his professorship, joining a circle of Heidegger’s students, including Leo Strauss, Karl Löwith, Jacob Klein, and Hannah Arendt. Gadamer habilitated in 1929 and began lecturing as a privatdotzen, an unsalaried instructor, but he was unable to secure a professorship until 1939. During this time, Gadamer’s academic career progressed slowly, if at all. Privatdotzen survived on occasional fellowships and ad hoc compensation from students. While direct opposition to the regime was impossible, he sheltered his friend Jacob Klein in his house for almost two years, from 1933 to 1934, and he supported Erich Frank until his departure from Marburg for the United States in 1939. Unlike Heidegger, who famously joined the Nazi party, Gadamer never joined the party, even though doing so would have provided a critical benefit to a struggling career. At the same time, Gadamer did what was necessary to maintain his position. In 1933 he signed, along with twenty-three other faculty members at the University of Marburg, as demanded in a public forum, the Loyalty Oath of German Professors to Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist State. In 1935, still without joining the party, he volunteered for a “kind of rehabilitation camp,” which may have been instrumental in his eventual professorship.

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