Gadamer's Aspectival Realism

  • Greg Lynch (North Central College)


Gadamer claims that human beings are capable of understanding only ‘aspects’ of reality, yet he also holds that, through these aspects, we understand reality itself. In this sense he is an ‘aspectival realist.’ This paper considers two attempts to explain Gadamer’s aspectival realism: the ‘schematization’ reading defended by Charles Taylor, and the ‘holist’ reading of Brice Wachterhauser. I criticize these views on two fronts: that they are at odds with Gadamer’s texts, and that they fail to reconcile aspectivalism and realism into a consistent philosophical position. I articulate an alternative reading that I call the ‘presentational’ account. At the heart of this account is the claim that, on Gadamer’s view, the ‘occasionality’ that characterizes language also characterizes being itself. I argue both that this interpretation fits Gadamer’s texts better than the views currently on offer in the literature and that it avoids the philosophical difficulties those views encounter.

How to Cite:

Lynch, G., (2021) “Gadamer's Aspectival Realism”, Ergo 7. doi:

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Published on
22 Oct 2021
Peer Reviewed