FOUNDER OF METAPHYSICS OR ONTOLOGICAL DIALECTICIAN: MARTIN HEIDEGGER AND HANS-GEORG GADAMER ON PLATO
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer both advanced a philosophical hermeneutics. These two thinkers, as teacher and student, share much in common, yet their hermeneutics are also divergent. I argue that their commonalities and differences are both markedly present in their contrasted interpretations of Plato. Heidegger argued that Plato was the founder of onto-theological metaphysics because Socrates’ program of education in the Republic required a reorientation of the soul to the Idea of the Good. In this educational reorientation of the soul to the Good, Heidegger claimed Plato effectively sublimated a-letheia to correctness. As his student, Hans-Georg Gadamer shared and attempted to further Heidegger’s interest in primordiality. However, whereas Heidegger “liquefied” Plato, Gadamer’s hermeneutics sought to recover an ontological Plato, one who stood against the tradition as a proponent of primordial a-letheia. Gadamer emphasized the transcendence of the Idea of the Good in Plato’s Republic as evidence that the Good is not an entity like all other Ideas. Through a reading of Plato’s Philebus, Gadamer argued that the Good discloses itself to humans engaged in dialectic in the beautiful unity and proportion of all things. Dialectic is disclosure and concealment of the Good in the matter under discussion. By interpreting Plato as a partner in ontology, Gadamer departed from Heidegger and his reading of the allegory of the cave while also offering a Heideggerian interpretation of Plato.
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