Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method is a result of sixty years of reflection on the nature of the hermeneutic experience and an exemplary document of lucid and fascinating scholarship. The purpose of the treatise on understanding is 'what takes place above our thinking and doing', in other words, the constitutive events in art, literature and ethics.
As Gadamer's examination of the romantic human sciences, or Geisteswissenschaften, is constantly referred back onto the tradition and the sources from which it emerges and supports itself, some background knowledge is required, particularly of classical philosophy, Hegel and Heidegger.
The project of Truth and Method opens by engaging the reader to a critique of Kantian aesthetic exposition, and uses it as a starting-point for an examination of hermeneutics, the art of understanding. In the course of the examination Gadamer does not, however, engage in a dialogue only with the philosophical tradition, but by continuously exploring the universality of the hermeneutic experience demonstrates its relevance and presence in history, study of languages, legal theory and theology.
For a reader coming from the analytic-linguistic tradition, the final section on the hermeneutic character of language should be of particular interest. In it Gadamer outlines his conception of language as the horizon through which the experience of the world is understood. But as throughout the book, the horizon of understanding is not determined solely on the basis of the grammatical or the logical structure present; indeed, the horizon itself is a constant possibility for the historically effected consciousness to gain further self-knowledge through its experience in language as a historically and temporally defined phenomenon.
The style of the book is thoroughly lively and engaging; despite the abstract subject-matter the argument is never lost from sight and Gadamer's sense of clarity in terms of expression makes the book a pleasure to read and come back to.
I recommend this book whole-heartedly, not as a conclusive and total life-philosophy, but as an exploration and fascination of the possibilities of human potential in its recurring activity of living and perpetuating, its own culture, tradition and being.