Year of Graduation


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Open Access Thesis

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First Advisor

Dallas Denery


Hans-Georg Gadamer’s myriad contributions to the continental philosophical tradition have been well documented, but his influence on North American intellectual life has gone largely gone unrecognized. This paper attempts to fill that gap, using primary and secondary source material to document Gadamer’s scholarly activities in the United States and Canada between 1968 and 1986. The paper also evaluates Gadamer’s influence using detailed accounts of “hermeneutic encounters” that occurred between Gadamer and four notable North American philosophers: Richard Palmer, Paul de Man, Charles Taylor, and Richard Rorty. Through these accounts, this paper argues that Gadamer made lasting contributions to ongoing debates in the humanities about the nature of literary interpretation, the social sciences, and analytic philosophy. Finally, the paper explores the philosophical and historiological possibilities that Gadamer’s hermeneutics opens up for intellectual history more broadly, especially in the field of reception history. Building on Gadamer’s own hermeneutics and Hans-Robert Jauss’s reception aesthetics, it develops the concept of the “encounter” as the starting point of a more hermeneutically-sensitive approach to intellectual history.