The aim of the thesis is in Part One to give a critical exposition of the foundations of Gadamer's philosophy, and in Part Two to
show how that philosophy can contribute to a Christian philosophy.
Part One outlines Gadamer's interpretation of Heidegger's analysis of
the 'fore-structure" of Understanding and the former's development of
that analysis with his own analysis of "effective-historical consciousness" and his positive understanding of prejudice. Gadamer understands
Understanding as a mode of experience and resists any attempt by reflection to elevate experience into knowledge; he wants Hegel's "science
of the experience of consciousness" without his Absolute Knowledge. He
also wants knowledge and truth without the totality which would guarantee
them, and believes that Heidegger's "ontologically positive" understanding of finitude allows this. We try to show the difficulties of such a
position, and also of his attempt to guarantee truth with the "speculative structure" of language. Finally we question the grounding of his
philosophy in the aesthetic experience testified to by the "other side"
of the Platonic doctrine of Beauty. In Part Two we suggest that
religious experience provides a more adequate grounding for a philosophy
such as Gadamer's. We try to clarify the relation between Gadamer and
theology, and suggest that this relation is more intimate than he
admits. We then try to see whether the Christian understandings of
Eschatology and of Providence can shed new light on the questions
raised in Part One, and can hint at their resolution. Finally we
sketch a Christian philosophy which attempts to overcome the weaknesses
and ambiguities of Gadamer's philosophy by a more explicit and thorough-going appropriation of the Christian-Platonic tradition.