Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Cass Fisher, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael DeJonge, Ph.D.


philosophical hermeneutics, Buddhist philosophy, comparative philosophy, śūnyatā, pratītyasamutpāda, metaphysics, epistemology, realism, anti-realism


Hans-Georg Gadamer rejects objectivism, the position that an interpreter may come to a single correct truth concerning any particular object, in favor of interpretive pluralism. What is not clear is how Gadamer grounds this position. This ambiguity leaves Gadamer open to multiple objectivist counters, ones which he would not wish to allow. The following argument, using a comparative and analytic approach, takes two concepts, pratītyasamutpāda (interdependence) and śūnyatā (emptiness), as they are deployed by Nāgārjuna to provide Gadamer with this much needed anti-objectivist foundation. Specifically, the new foundation is anti-realist in which interpreters and objects of interpretation are metaphysically empty, or devoid of independent existence, and are ultimately dependent on their “position” in a cultural and historical horizon. If there is no metaphysical object apart from the interpreter’s engagement with it, then there is no stable phenomenon to which objectivists may appeal.