Gadamer’s Dynamic Truth

“Truth is not a static concept, but a dynamic one; … Truth arises in the context of language, which must be properly interpreted according to the community or tradition from where the language originates.”
Micah Carter on Hans Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method

The idea of dynamic truth as described by Gadamer is not nearly as dangerous and menacing as some reactions make it sound. It is not postmodern and is relativist only in the very mildest sense. When properly understood it is not a strange idea and might even seem  obvious.

We have very little choice but to use language in the communication of any truth. The context of language is based on the traditions of the community using it. You cannot understand the truth of the Pentateuch directly because, at the most basic level, you must have it translated out of ancient Hebrew into the language and idiom of 21st century English.

There are other ideas that make sense in the cultural tradition of Moses that would need some explanation, to have them make sense in our context. For example, what is the significance of the Ephod in Exodus 39? It is not obviously apparent to us. This idea benefits from an understanding of the cultural context and might be explained with a metaphor. But the metaphor that best explains the Ephod to us may be different from the one that best explains the Ephod to a tribesman of New Guinea. There is no one static concept that makes this idea clear to everyone. It is in that sense that Gadamer claims that truth needs to be dynamic.


~ by severalfourmany on May 19, 2009.

One Response to “Gadamer’s Dynamic Truth”

  1. Excellent quote! And great post. I am sure I will use this in a paper….

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