A foundation stone of Hans Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics is the notion of the sensus communis
. The philosophical significance of a “sensus communis” (common sense) begins with Aristotle, who offered scattered reflections. The topic was taken up in earnest in Enlightenment thought and in German idealism, but it became more of an individual faculty, lacking the deep sense of community and tradition found in earlier formulations. In this paper, the author demonstrates Gadamer’s debt to Pietist thought, examining his appropriation and use of the theology of Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702–1782), a leading figure in Swabian Pietism, whose ideas had a significant impact in theological circles and broader cultural life. Gadamer’s critique of the Enlightenment’s ‘prejudice against prejudice,’ owes a debt to the Pietist conception of the sensus communis
and his practical philosophy to Pietism’s emphasis on ‘application’ as a fundamental aspect of a hermeneutical triad.
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