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7 July 2000

University of St Petersburg Awards Honorary Doctorate to Heidelberg Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer

For services to philosophy – Rector Prof. Ludmilla A. Verbitskaya: "In Russia Gadamer is a name to conjure with" – Dean Prof. Solonin: "There is no professional philosopher in Russia who is not familiar with Gadamer's works"

Ehrendoktor für Prof. Gadamer
Rector Prof. Ludmila A. Verbitskaya, Prof. Gadamer, Dean Prof. Solonin

At a special ceremony in Heidelberg on 7 July 2000, the University of St Petersburg awarded the greatest living German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (Heidelberg) an honorary doctorate. During the ceremony Rector Prof. Ludmilla A. Verbitskaya emphasised the influence Gadamer has exerted on philosophical thought in Russia. The dean of the Philosophical Faculty Prof. Solonin confirmed that in Russia all professional philosophers were conversant with Gadamer's works and read them repeatedly.

In his welcoming speech Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke, the Rector of the University of Heidelberg, recalled the links existing between the two universities, notably the Russian-German philosophical colloquium in Heidelberg on 22-24 May involving philosophers from St Petersburg and Heidelberg. The subject of that gathering was "The Influence of German Philosophy on Russian Philosophy in the 19th and Early 20th Century and the Further Development of Philosophy in Russia and Germany". The purview of the conference also extended to perspectives for the future of philosophy in both countries.

Gadamer's thinking has a profound impact on present-day Russian philosophy

An unexpected aspect of the colloquium was not only the insistence of the Russian guest speakers on the strong influence of German philosophers on their Russian counterparts. Equally thought-provoking was the extent to which Husserl's and Heidegger's phenomenologies and not least Gadamer's thinking have had a formative impact on Russian philosophy.

"Professor Gadamer is one of the symbolic figures in 20th century philosophical thought"

During the ceremony at the Villa Poensgen in Heidelberg, Rector Prof. Ludmilla A. Verbitskaya stressed that the Senate of the University of St Petersburg had been unanimous in its resolve to honour an outstanding philosopher and thinker "whose name is one of the symbols for 20th century philosophical thinking." Prof. Solonin expressed his "profound gratification" at being called upon to confer this honour on Gadamer and recalled his own very early encounter with the German philosopher's works 40 years ago. Recovering from a serious illness at the time, he felt that he had "never read anything as good" as Gadamer's philosophical reflections. "Professor Gadamer's philosophical home from home is Russia," said Solonin and expressed his appreciation of the contribution the German philosopher has made to "the development of our culture in the last century".

In a brief rejoinder Gadamer described his early links with Russia, notably his encounter with Russian literature in his student days.

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 07.08.2000


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