Hans-Georg Gadamer, born Feb. 11, 1900 in Marburg, Germany, is best known for his important contribution to hermeneutics through his major work,Wahrheit und Methode (Truth and Method). His system of philosophical hermeneutics is a response, through an exploration of historicity, language, and art, to Wilhelm Dilthey, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger.
Gadamer, the son of a chemistry professor (who had hopes of Gadamer following in his footsteps) began his university studies at Breslau in 1918, moving on to Marburg in 1919 where he earned his first doctorate at the age of 22 under the Plato scholar, Paul Natorp. During this time, he also "stood under the influence" of Nicolai Hartmann.
After meeting Martin Heidegger in 1923, he served as Heidegger's assistant while continuing course work in philosophy and philology. In 1928 he completed a second doctorate (again on Plato) under Heidegger's direction. He remained in Marburg as a Privatdozent [part-time member with little salary] teaching classical philosophy until he got his call to Kiel. After a brief stint at Kiel (1934-35), he returned to Marburg where he was honored as "extraordinary professor" in 1937.
In 1939, he moved on toLeipzig, serving as rector in 1946-47. In the fall of 1947 he returned to teaching and research by accepting a call to Frankfurt am Main. In 1949, he was asked to take on Karl Jasper's chair in Heidelberg where he remained until becoming professor emeritus in 1968. It was while at Heidelberg that his teaching and research "reached a first conclusion inTruth and Method."
Upon retirement he was invited to spend semesters in residence at major universities in the United States including Vanderbilt, Catholic University of America,University of Dallas, Boston College, as well as McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario,Canada. During the decades after his retirement he continued, until his passing in 2002, to lecture widely in the United States, Canada, and other countries.
The first book-length definitive biography of Hans-Georg Gadamer has been published by Jean Grondin, entitledHans-Georg Gadamer: Eine Biographie(Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999.). Another good source is Gadamer's own intellectual autobiography,Philosophical Apprenticeships (translated by Robert R. Sullivan.Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985). He also has a shorter autobiography ("Reflections on My Philosophical Journey," translated by Richard E. Palmer) inThe Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer (The Library of Living Philosophers Volume XXIV, Peru, IL: Open Court Publishing Co., 1997). (The short quotes in the above text are from "Reflections.")