The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy: A Study of Ernst Tugendhat (review)
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Reviewed by
Santiago Zabala, The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy: A Study of Ernst Tugendhat (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 199 pp.

Like Hans Blumenberg and Odo Marquard, Ernst Tugendhat lacks the cachet among students of Continental philosophy that figures like Heidegger, Gadamer, Arendt, and Habermas possess. Tugendhat has commanded interest mainly as a student of Heidegger, but Zabala’s welcome study should help to raise Tugendhat’s profile. Zabala posits that Tugendhat’s work is representative of “Gadamerian culture” and that it offers the possibility of dialogue between analytic and Continental philosophy—a dialogue not yet visible on the horizon. The two groups simply do not attend the same parties, and the members of each rarely make guest appearances at the other’s conferences. Despite all the talk about “the neighbor” in Continental circles, workers in the discipline return to their gated and philosophically segregated communities at night. To his credit, Zabala does not hide Tugendhat’s own problems with the supposed dialogue of disciplines. Zabala’s wonderful epilogue—alone worth the price of the book—is a transcript of a conversation with Tugendhat, revealing his frustrations with Gadamerian culture. Zabala asks Tugendhat what he thinks about Gadamer’s famous line, “Being that can be understood is language.” Tugendhat’s response is: “When Gadamer says such things, they are confused. One cannot say that Being is language. He should not talk about Being if he thinks it is language. I just do not understand him.” That must be why Tugendhat reports that he has stopped working on bridges between analytic and Continental philosophy and is concentrating now on “matters that are in Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu thought.”

Bruce Krajewski

Bruce Krajewski received the Scaglione Prize of the Modern Language Association for his edition of Gadamer on Celan. He is the author of Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric and the editor of Gadamer’s Repercussions: Reconsidering Philosophical Hermeneutics.

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