Was Gadamer a Nazi?

Time and again, Gadamer’s own ethical transgressions are compounded by Grondin’s post hoc rationalizations. “It was certainly a delicate situation to sit in for a Jewish colleague, but what was Gadamer supposed to do?” inquires Grondin plaintively—as though Gadamer’s career prospects were self-evidently the major issue at stake rather than his embarrassing willingness to cooperate with a lawless and racist dictatorship. “Should he have protested?” Grondin continues. Yes, that’s exactly what Gadamer should have done! For by protesting or having otherwise expressed his disapproval of this horrific regime, Gadamer would have saved the honor of philosophy as well as his own reputation. Yet for reasons Grondin never fully explains, he insists that the only option available to Gadamer at the time was the low road: “In his situation he could only think about getting along himself.” Grondin seems not to understand that philosophy’s distinctiveness as a vocation is that in such situations it acts on the basis of principle rather than self-interest or survival. Those who view Grondin’s biography as a conte morale about how hermeneutics functions in times of duress are surely in for a major letdown.