Since the appearance of Jurgen Habermas's critical review of Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method [Wahrheit und Methode], there has been talk of the ‘Gadamer-Habermas debate' among those who are interested in the nature of historical understanding and social rationality. More recently a number of philosophers have come to see that the issues involved are of wider scope, and that the opposition of the two can be seen as emblematic of two very general styles or approaches to philosophy, which are at the centre of contemporary discussion. As one might expect, differences at fundamental levels concerning truth and understanding are likely to be reflected also in views of the arts and aesthetic questions. In this essay I want to approach the Auseinandersetzung between Gadamer and Habermas with an eye to constructing an exchange between the two concerning their analysis of recent and contemporary art. In the process I hope to suggest some of the ways in which what might be taken to be the primary issues of 'first philosophy' between the two, that is, issues pertaining to knowledge and value, turn, in some crucial ways, on aesthetic questions and concepts.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1986

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1986 Oxford University Press. This article first appeared in The British Journal of Aesthetics 26, no. 1 (Winter 1986): 39-47. doi:10.1093/bjaesthetics/26.1.39.

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