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Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1900-2002)

German philosopher; a student of Nicolai Hartmann. In Wahrheit und Methode, Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermaneutik (Truth and Method) (1960), Philosophical Hermeneutics (1977) Reason in the Age of Science (1983), Gadamer develops a hermeneutic according to which the meaning of any text is a function of the historical situations of both author and interpreter. Since each reading is grounded in its own context, no one reading offers a definitive or final interpretation of the text; the virtual dialogue continues indefinitely.

Recommended Reading: Hans-Georg Gadamer, Praise of Theory: Speeches and Essays, tr. by Chris Dawson (Yale, 1999); The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, ed. by Lewis Edwin Hahn (Open Court, 1996); Gadamer's Century: Essays in Honor of Hans-Georg Gadamer, ed. by Jeff Malpas, Ulrich Arnswald, and Jens Kertscher (MIT, 2002); The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer, ed. by Robert J. Dostal (Cambridge, 2002); Brice R. Wachterhauser, Beyond Being: Gadamer's Post-Platonic Hermeneutic Ontology (Northwestern, 1999); Feminist Interpretations of Hans-Georg Gadamer, ed. by Lorraine Code (Penn State, 2003); James Risser, Hermeneutics and the Voice of the Other: Re-Reading Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics (SUNY, 1997); Ingrid Scheibler, Gadamer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); and Richard E. Palmer, Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer (Northwestern, 1969).

Also see SEP, EB, Gary Brent Madison, ELC, Rui Sampaio, Koula Mellos, Endre Kiss, and K. Sundaram.

Galilei, Galileo (1564-1642)

Italian mathematician and scientist who developed modern scientific method and applied it to the study of astronomy and terrestrial motion. Author of Il Saggiatore (The Assayer) (1623), Dialogo Sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems) (1632) Galileo's telescope, and Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (Discourse on Two New Sciences) (1638). Despite his careful delineation of scientific and religious concerns in Considerations on the Copernican Opinion (1615), Galileo's advocacy of Copernican astronomy earned him condemnation by the church. Artifacts from Galileo's career are displayed at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, and his Lettere (Letters) are available on-line.

Recommended Reading: Stillman Drake, Galileo at Work: His Scientific Biography (Dover, 1995); The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, ed. by Peter K. MacHamer (Cambridge, 1998); Stillman Drake, Essays on Galileo and the History and Philosophy of Science (Toronto, 2000); and Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (Penguin, 2000).

Also see The Galileo Project, EB, SEP, IEP, ELC, WSB, MMT, and CE.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (1869-1948)

Indian political leader, also called "Mahatma" (the Great-Souled). In opposition to racial discrimination against Indian nationals in South Africa and to British colonial rule of India itself, Gandhi urged the practice of Satyagraha in a practical effort to achieve peaceful resolution of political differences as head of the Indian National Congress. Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place (1941) includes a detailed description of the method he espoused. Active in efforts to reduce Hindu-Muslim ethnic conflict, Gandhi himself was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic.

Recommended Reading: The Essential Gandhi: His Life, Work, and Ideas: An Anthology, ed. by Louis Fischer (Vintage, 1983); Gandhi on Non-Violence, ed. by Thomas Merton (Norton, 1965); An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth, tr. by Mahadev Desai (Beacon, 1993); Bhikhu Parekh, Gandhi (Oxford, 1997); and Glyn Richards, The Philosophy of Gandhi: A Study of His Basic Ideas (Curzon, 1992).

Also see Geeta S. Mehta and EB.

Gassendi, Pierre (1592-1655)

French logician and philosopher. Gassendi revived interest in ancient atomism by defending a strictly mechanistic account of the physical world. Like Descartes, however, he exempted all thinking beings from this explanation. Gassendi proposed a limited empirical skepticism in Exercitationes Paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos (Exercises against the Aristoteleans) (1624) and in the fifth set of Objections that were appended to the publication of Descartes's Meditations in 1641. The Disquisitio Metaphysica (1644) and Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri (1649) contain a clear defence of his adherence to an atomistic natural philosophy.

Recommended Reading: Pierre Gassendi's Institutio Logica: A Critical Edition With Translation and Introduction (Van Gorcum, 1981); Pierre Gassendi, Selected Works; and Margaret J. Osler, Divine Will and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gassendi and Descartes on Contingency and Necessity in the Created World (Cambridge, 1994).

Also see CE, Saul Fisher, SEP, EB, ELC, and MMT.

Gauss, Carl Friedrich (1777-1855)

German physicist and mathematician. Gauss established the foundations of modern number theory with his work on primes in Disquisitiones arithmeticae (1801) and contributed significantly to the study of electromagnetic forces. Gauss was the teacher of Riemann and Dedekind.

Recommended Reading: W. K. Buhler, Gauss: A Biographical Study (Springer Verlag, 1981) and Morris Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times (Oxford, 1990).

Also see MMT, EB, and WSB.

Gay, John (1699-1745)

English moral philosopher. Gay's Dissertation concerning the Fundamental Principle of Virtue or Morality (1731) provided an early statement of the utilitarian theory. The greatest happiness principle, he supposed, represents a middle ground between the egoism of Hobbes and Hutcheson's moral sense theory.

Recommended Reading: D. D. Raphael, British Moralists (Hackett, 1990).

Gemeinschaft / Gesellschaft

German distinction between community, characterized by traditional practices and a personal sense of belonging, and the more individualistic, competitive, and impersonal organization of mere society.

Recommended Reading: Ferdinand Tonnies, Community and Society (Transaction, 1988) and Larry Lyon, The Community in Urban Society (Waveland, 1999).

Also see EB.

gender / sex

Distinction between the socially-constructed expectations associated with masculinity and femininity and the biological categories of male and female. De Beauvoir, MacKinnon, and other feminists draw attention to the disparate power relationships established by gender differentiation in our culture.

Recommended Reading: Martha Craven Nussbaum, Sex & Social Justice (Oxford, 2000); Judith P. Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (Routledge, 1993); Feminism / Postmodernism, ed. by Linda J. Nicholson (Routledge, 1989); Gender / Body / Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, ed. by Alison M. Jaggar and Susan R. Bordo (Rutgers, 1989); and Diana Tietjens Meyers, Gender in the Mirror: Cultural Imagery and Women's Agency (Oxford, 2002).

Also see Debra Shogan, Thomas Gramstad, and Allen T. Pearson.

general will [Fr. volonté générale]

Collective desire for the welfare of a society as a whole. According to Jean Jacques Rousseau, the citizens of a properly-contracted civil society are infallibly guided by the general will, rather than by their conflicting individual self-interests.

Recommended Reading: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, tr. by Maurice Cranston (Penguin, 1987); Robert Wokler, Rousseau (Oxford, 1995); Patrick Riley, The General Will Before Rousseau (Princeton, 1991); and Andrew Levine, The General Will: Rousseau, Marx, Communism (Cambridge, 1993).

Also see EB and Steven Darwall.

genus and differentia

Latin terms used by medieval logicians in an effort to define a term by indicating the general kind (genus) of things to which it refers and then specifying the special feature (differentia) which sets them apart from other things of the same kind. This usage derives from Aristotle's logic, where the highest kind {Gk. γενος [genos]} to which an individual thing belongs is one of the basic categories of being.

Gersonides (Levi ben Gershom) (1288-1344)

French Jewish mathematician and philosopher. Following the leads of Maimonides and Ibn Rushd, Gersonides maintained that truths of reason cannot conflict with revealed religion. He denied the possibility of creation ex nihilo, supposing instead that matter is eternal. On Gersonides view, however, genuine human freedom is possible because the omniscience of god extends only to knowledge of universals.

Recommended Reading: Jacob J. Staub, The Creation of the World According to Gersonides (SBL, 1982) and Gersonides on Providence, Covenant, and the Chosen People: A Study in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Biblical Commentary (SUNY, 1995).

Also see SEP and EB.

Gettier, Edmund (1927- )

American philosopher whose Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? (1963) offers counter-examples to show that even justified true belief may not be genuine knowledge in cases where that which justifies one's belief happens not to be related directly to the truth of what one believes.

Recommended Reading: Empirical Knowledge, ed. by Paul K. Moser (Rowman & Littlefield, 1996); A Companion to Epistemology, ed. by Jonathan Dancy and Ernest Sosa (Blackwell, 1994); and Robert Audi, Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Routledge, 1998).

Also see Kent Bach and DPM.

Geulincx, Arnold (1624-1669)

Belgian philosopher; author of Quaestiones quodlibeticae (Miscellaneous Questions) (1653), Logica restituta (Restored Logic) (1662), and De virtute (On Virtue) (1665). As a devoted Cartesian, Geulincx sought to resolve the dualist's problem of mind-body interaction by appealing to divine intervention as the genuine source of all causation, presaging the occasionalism of Malebranche. The coincidence of mental thoughts with bodily motions, he argued, is like the conformity between unconnected but synchronized clocks.

Recommended Reading: Causation in Early Modern Philosophy: Cartesianism, Occasionalism, and Preestablished Harmony, ed. by Steven Nadler (Penn. State, 1993) and G. Nuchelmans, Geulincx Containment Theory of Logic (Royal Netherlands, 1988).

Also see EB and ELC.


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Last modified 27 December 2011.
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