Hermeneutics

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  • Topic: Hermeneutics, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer
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  • Published : March 19, 2013
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HERMENEUTICS AS A METHOD OF TEXT-INTERPRETATION

"Hermeneutics" means the theory of interpretation, i.e. thetheory of achieving an understanding of texts, utterances, and so on (it does notmean a certain twentieth-century philosophical movement). It is the art of interpreting. Hermeneutics proved to be much bigger than theology or legal theory. The comprehension of any written text requires hermeneutics; reading a literary text is as much a hermeneutic act as interpreting law or Scripture. Without collapsing critical thinking into relativism, hermeneutics recognizes the historicity of human understanding. Ideas are nested in historical, linguistic, and cultural horizons of meaning. A philosophical, theological, or literary problem can only be genuinely understood through a grasp of its origin. Hermeneutics is in part the practice of historical retrieval, the re-construction of the historical context of scientific and literary works. Hermeneutics does not re-construct the past for its own sake; it always seeks to understand the particular way a problem engages the present. A philosophical impulse motivates hermeneutic re-construction, a desire to engage a historically transmitted question as a genuine question, worthy of consideration in its own right. By addressing questions within ever-new horizons, hermeneutic understanding strives to break through the limitations of a particular world-view to the matter that calls to thinking.[11] Hermeneutics is not satisfied with translating the language of the other; it wants to speak with the other in the language of the other. Hermeneutics is philosophy in the original sense of the word, the love of wisdom, the search for as comprehensive an understanding of human existence as possible. On a certain level, translation is impossible. What is said in a particular language is said in a distinct form of life, a historical context of meaning. The only way to understand a text is to read it in its original language; the only way to read a language is to be familiar with its form of life. Nonetheless, as Walter Benjamin put it, we must translate. Translation is not a simple substitution of language, but a hermeneutic exercise of interpreting how a meaning can be transposed into a historical-linguistic horizon different from the one in which it originated. What emerges in the target language is not identical to the original,nor wholly different; it is a new expression of the meaning, an effect of its history. [12] Hermeneutics is the art of understanding and interpreting texts. It dates back to the creation of written language when the need for the adequate understanding and interpretation of texts arose. The term hermeneutics is as old as bears a direct reference to the ancient myth about Hermes, the translator of the divine thoughts and actions, rendering the strange meanings of signs or language understandable to people. In its earliest forms, hermeneutics was represented by apothegms of oracles and prophecies. The task of hermeneutics then was to bridge the gap between the familiar world people lived in and the strange meaning. In the late Middle Ages, theological hermeneutics arose, with Catholic theologists practically specifying and handling hermeneutical situations. Taking its origin in the very concrete and specific interpretation of texts (originally religious and literary pieces), hermeneutics gradually extended the scope of its study, putting forward more general and fundamental questions. Heidegger discovered the ontological significance of understanding, which was a major turning point in hermeneutical theory. He proved that to exist means to be understood in language, where being understood means being interpreted. Heideggr’s hermeneutics circle is one of the central principles of hermeneutics. This displays a mechanism due to which understanding and interpretation are in dynamic correlation. In Heidegger’s model, the role of preunderstanding is emphasized. According to...
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