Anticipations of Hans Georg Gadamer’s Epistemology of History in Benedetto Croce’s Philosophy of History


In Truth and Method Hans Georg Gadamer revealed hermeneutics as one of the foundational epistemological elements of history, in contrast to scientific method, which, with empiricism, constitutes natural sciences’ epistemology. This important step solved a number of long-standing arguments over the ontology of history, which had become increasingly bitter in the twentieth century. But perhaps Gadamer’s most important contribution was that he annulled history’s supposed inferiority to the natural sciences by showing that the knowledge it offers, though different in nature from science, is of equal import. By showing history’s arrant independence from the natural sciences, the former was furnished with a newfound importance, and thrust on an equal footing with the latter—even in a distinctly scientific age such as ours. This essay intends to show that the idea of history’s discrete ontology from science was prefigured almost a century earlier by Benedetto Croce. Croce and Gadamer show compelling points of contact in their philosophies, notwithstanding that they did not confer equal consequence to what may be identified as Gadamer’s principal substantiation of history’s epistemology—hermeneutics. Of course this essay does not aspire to be exhaustive: the thought of both philosophers is far too dense. Nevertheless, the main points of contact shall be outlined, and, though concise, this essay seeks to point out the striking similarities of these two cardinal philosophers of history.

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Franchetti, C. (2013) Anticipations of Hans Georg Gadamer’s Epistemology of History in Benedetto Croce’s Philosophy of History. Open Journal of Philosophy, 3, 273-277. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2013.32043.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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