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Hermeneutics

Edited by Theodore George (Texas A&M University)
Assistant editor: Jennifer Gaffney (Texas A&M University)
About this topic
Summary

Hermeneutics concerns the study of understanding and interpretation. While this study includes consideration of the art, techniques, methods, and foundations of interpretative research in the humanities and related disciplines, philosophical inquiry into hermeneutics characteristically focuses on questions raised by the phenomena of understanding and interpretation in epistemology, the theory of meaning, the ontology of human beings, and the philosophy of language and history. Philosophical interest in hermeneutics may be traced back to ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian sources but the philosophical tradition of modern hermeneutics originates in the early nineteenth century. The principal figures associated with this modern tradition of hermeneutics are Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur. The philosophical study of hermeneutics both draws from and is of consequence for several related areas of research, perhaps especially biblical hermeneutics, legal hermeneutics, the philosophy of medicine, and the philosophy of education.

Key works

Although philosophical study of hermeneutics has a history that reaches back to ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian sources, the major figures and works associated with modern hermeneutics date from the turn of the nineteenth century. Of nineteenth century sources, an introduction to the contributions of Friedrich Schleiermacher, often characterized as the principal proponent of Romantic hermeneutics, may be found in Hermeneutics and Criticism.  Main lines of Wilhelm Dilthey’s thought may be discerned from his first important theoretical work, Introduction to the Human Sciences. Heidegger’s radicalization of hermeneutics in the first part of the century is developed in an important 1923 lecture course, published as Ontology—the Hermeneutics of Facticity as well as in his masterwork Being and Time. The major work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, the name perhaps most associated with hermeneutics in our time, is Truth and Method. Indications of the some of the most important developments in Gadamer’s later thought may be found in The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of The Later Writings. Many of the main lines of Paul Ricoeur’s contributions to hermeneutics may be found in The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics. For a broader overview of figures and works associated with modern hermeneutics, see, for example, Kurt Mueller-Vollmer, ed., The Hermeneutics Reader: Texts from the German Tradition from the Enlightenment to the Present and Gayle L. Ormiston and Alan Schrift, eds., The Hermeneutic Tradition from Ast to Ricoeur. Finally, Jean Grondin's notable Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics includes an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources in ancient and modern hermeneutics.

Introductions Of the many good introductions to hermeneutics available in English, those highly recommended include, in alphabetical order by author:

Bruns, Gerald, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern

Grondin, Jean, Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

Ramberg, Bjorn and Gjesdal, Kristin, “Hermeneutics”.  

Palmer, Richard, Hermeneutics: Interpretive Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer

Schmidt, Lawrence, Understanding Hermeneutics.

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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Hermeneutics
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  1. Shaun Gallagher & Thomas Busch (eds.) (1992). Merleau-Ponty, Hermeneutics and Postmodernism. State University of New York Press.
    Opens up new dimensions in the philosophical thought of Merleau-Ponty and addresses contemporary issues concerning interpretation theory and postmodernity.
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  2. I. I. I. Abonado (2014). The Emergence of Authentic Human Person in Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Superman: An Hermeneutics Approach to Literary Criticism. Iamure International Journal of Literature, Philosophy and Religion 5.
    The paper interprets Nietzsche’s description of authentic human person.Based on the works of Nietzsche, commentaries and philosophical interpretationsof various authors, authentic human person evolves into a superman by usingthe principles of discipline and mastery of oneself. His authenticity, however,requires persistence, courage and strength to endure many forms of sufferingsand to overcome alienation brought about by his environment. Otherwise,man would become slave of his desires or alien to his own powers, talents andcapacities. Thus, Nietzsche’s thought of superman is an invitation to (...)
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  3. Maria del Rosario Acosta (2012). El diálogo que somos: la comprensión como espacio para la política. Areté. Revista de Filosofía 18 (2):205-228.
    This paper mainly proposes to point out some aspects that render hermeneutics pertinent within the context of political discussion, defending it from attacks mostly stemming from a philosophy of critical consciousness such as Habermas’s, Adorno’s, and some of their followers. It will be shown, from Gadamer’s perspective, how hermeneutics responds to those critiques within its conception of understanding as a fundamental task and a primordial political space. Contrary to a philosophy that appeals to the need of “taking its distance” as (...)
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  4. Franklin Hugh Adler (2010). The Hermeneutics of Civility. Telos 2010 (152):171-180.
    ExcerptMy focus shall be on challenges to civility in Europe raised by the presence of sizable immigrant communities, which, unlike those of earlier times, are significantly different from host populations in terms of national origin, race, religion, ethnicity, and culture. Coming principally from former colonial territories, their otherness additionally bears the deep historical imprint of inferiority and subordination, merited or not, to the degree that to Europeans they sometimes appear to be, at worst, uncivilized, or, at best, to live in (...)
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  5. Binod Kumar Agarwala (2007). Hermeneutic Experience and the Law of Karma. In Manjulika Ghosh & Raghunath Ghosh (eds.), Language and Interpretation: Hermeneutics From East-West Perspective. Northern Book Centre. 17.
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  6. A. Aichele (1999). The Foundation of Hermeneutics as a Work of Art-The Relation Between Metaphysical and Aesthetical Truth in Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten. Studia Leibnitiana 31 (1):82-90.
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  7. Oona Ajzenstat (1994). The Text as Thou: Martin Buber's Dialogical Hermeneutics and Narrative Theology (Review). Philosophy and Literature 18 (2):401-403.
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  8. Barry Allen (2013). Postmodern Pragmatism and Skeptical Hermeneutics: Richard Rorty and Odo Marquard. Contemporary Pragmatism 10 (1):91-111.
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  9. Patricia Altenbemd Johnson (2000). Charles E. Scott and John Sallis, Eds., Interrogating the Tradition: Hermeneutics and the History of Philosophy Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 20 (6):436-438.
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  10. Maria Nazaré de Camargo Pacheco Amaral (2012). Dilthey: The Hermeneutics of Life and the Universal Aspirations of Pedagogy. Trans/Form/Ação 35 (1):89-114.
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  11. Karl-Otto Apel (1979). The Common Presuppositions of Hermeneutics and Ethics: Types of Rationality Beyond Science and Technology. Research in Phenomenology 9 (1):35-53.
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  12. Thiago Aquino (2012). Tradição histórica e reflexão crítica: notas sobre o debate entre Habermas e Gadamer. Veritas 57 (3):53-73.
    The intention of this article is to reconstruct the debate between Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas which occurred between the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s. In order to observe this period the later developments of these thinkers won’t be taken into account. The article plans to examine the central problematic of the debate related to the difficult relationship between historic tradition and critical reflection. The tension between these two terms will be used as a reference (...)
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  13. Samuel Arriarán & Elizabeth Hernández Alvídrez (eds.) (2006). Ensayos Sobre Hermenéutica Analógico-Barroca. Editorial Torres Asociados.
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  14. G. Douglas Atkins (1988). Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project (Review). Philosophy and Literature 12 (2):313-314.
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  15. Pierre Aubenque, Tom Krell & Ian Alexander Moore (2013). The Relationship Between Hermeneutics and Ontology in the Case of Aristotle's ΠΕΡΙ ΕΡΜΗΝΕΙΑΣ. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 34 (1):3-20.
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  16. Sylvie Avakian (forthcoming). 'Undecidability' or 'Anticipatory Resoluteness' Caputo in Conversation with Heidegger. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion:1-17.
    In this article I will consider John D. Caputo’s ‘radical hermeneutics’, with ‘undecidability’ as its major theme, in conversation with Martin Heidegger’s notion of ‘anticipatory resoluteness’. Through an examination of the positions of Caputo and Heidegger I argue that Heidegger’s notion of ‘anticipatory resoluteness’ reaches far beyond the claims of ‘radical hermeneutics’, and that it assumes a reconstructive process which carries within its scope the overtones of deconstruction, the experience of repetition and authenticity and also the implications of Gelassenheit. Further, (...)
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  17. A. J. Ayer, J. O'Grady, Blackwell Oxford, J. Bacon, K. Campbell & L. Reinhardt (1994). Alejandro, R., Hermeneutics, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1993, Ix, 291, US $17.95 (Cloth). Alston, WP, The Reliability of Sense Perception, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1993, X, 148, US $27.50 (Cloth). [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (1).
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  18. O. Balaban (1989). The Hermeneutics of the Young Marx: According To Marx's Approach To the Philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus. Diogenes 37 (148):28-41.
    In the History of Philosophy, the atomistic physics of Epicurus and of Democritus have been considered as very similar.1 Con trary to the more conventional view, Marx considers this similarity.
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  19. Joe Balay (2013). The Convalescence of Language: James Risser. The Life of Understanding: A Contemporary Hermeneutics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. Viii+ 142 Pp. Bibliography and Index. [REVIEW] Research in Phenomenology 43 (2):267-273.
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  20. Charles R. Bambach (1998). Wilhelm Dilthey, Selected Works, Volume IV: Hermeneutics and the Study of History (Review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (4):641-642.
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  21. Paula Banerjee & Samir Kumar Das (eds.) (2007/2008). Autonomy: Beyond Kant and Hermeneutics. Anthem Press.
    would suspect him of murdering them and would not spare him. So he too killed himself. Gods were very much disturbed by this sad incident and realized the ...
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  22. F. Barison & S. Del Monaco Carucci (1996). Hermeneutics and Heideggerian Ontology in Psychiatry: The Life-Struggle for the Light of the Spirit. Analecta Husserliana 48:343-348.
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  23. L. Batnitzky (1999). The Philosophical Import of Carnal Israel: Hermeneutics and the Structure of Franz Rosenzweig's' Star of Redemption'. Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 9 (1):127-153.
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  24. Leora Batnitzky (2000). The Philosophical Import of Carnal Israel: Hermeneutics and the Structure of Rosenzweig's Star. Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 9 (1):127-153.
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  25. C. D. Battershill (1986). Book Reviews : Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. By Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1982. Pp. XXII + 231. 18.95. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 16 (3):394-397.
  26. Kenneth Baynes (2007). Special Section: Lorenzo Simpson's the Unfinished Project : The Hermeneutics of `Situated Cosmopolitanism'. Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (3):301-308.
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  27. Kenneth Baynes (1989). Rational Reconstruction and Social Criticism: Habermas's Model of Interpretive Social Science in Hermeneutics in Ethics and Social Theory. Philosophical Forum 21 (1-2):122-145.
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  28. Seyla Benhabib (1989). In the Shadow of Aristotle and Hegel: Communicative Ethics and Current Controversies in Practical Philosophy in Hermeneutics in Ethics and Social Theory. Philosophical Forum 21 (1-2):1-31.
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  29. Seyla Benhabib (1982). The Development of Marx's Thought and the Hermeneutics of Critique Comments on George Markus' "Four Forms of Critical Theory — Some Theses on Marx's Development". Thesis Eleven 5 (1):289-297.
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  30. Silvia Benso & Brian Schroeder (eds.) (2010). Between Nihilism and Politics: The Hermeneutics of Gianni Vattimo. State University of New York Press.
    Essays describe Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo’s unique and radical hermeneutic philosophy.
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  31. Mauricio Beuchot (2005). Hermenéutica Analógica y Filosofía Latinoamericana. Editorial Buho.
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  32. Mauricio Beuchot & Ambrosio Velasco Gómez (eds.) (2009). Hermenéutica, Ciencia y Sociedad. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
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  33. L. Bianchi (1996). Interpreting Aristotle with Aristotle-Trends in Philosophical Hermeneutics During the Renaissance. Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 51 (1):5-27.
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  34. Mark E. Biddle (2007). Obadiah—Jonah—Micah in Canonical Context: The Nature of Prophetic Literature and Hermeneutics. Interpretation 61 (2):154-166.
    A series of observations concerning the books of Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah raise questions about prophecy's very nature and pose the issues of definition and interpretation in a way that can help to address this problem for modern readers of biblical prophecy.
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  35. Marc E. Blanchard (1985). The Sound of Songs: The Voice in the Text. In Hugh J. Silverman & Don Ihde (eds.), Hermeneutics & Deconstruction. State University of New York Press. 122--135.
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  36. Juan Blanco Ilari (2013). Belonging and distancing: the place of Ricoeur in contemporary hermeneutics. Estudios de Filosofía Práctica E Historia de Las Ideas 15 (2):57-70.
    La hermenéutica ha sido uno de los movimientos filosóficos más importantes en los últimos años. Sin embargo, la heterogeneidad de sus seguidores torna dificultoso establecer una unidad temática en la hermenéutica contemporánea. Ricoeur fue uno de los representantes más destacados de esta línea filosófica. En este trabajo quiero mostrar el posicionamiento de Ricoeur en la hermenéutica contemporánea. Centraré mi análisis en el intento de combinar el descubrimiento de nuestra "pertenencia" (historia, tradición) con nuestra constitutiva "distanciación" de esta pertenencia. Ricoeur encuentra (...)
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  37. Ed Block (1991). Radical Hermeneutics as Radical Homelessness. Philosophy Today 35 (3):269-276.
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  38. Lieven Boeve (2005). Review: Richard Kearney, The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion)(Bloomington, 2001). [REVIEW] Ars Disputandi: The Online Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5.
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  39. George Bondor & Corneliu Bîlbă (eds.) (2008). Adevăr Hermeneutic Și Locuri Obscure. Editura Universității "Alexandru Ioan Cuza".
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  40. Ronald Bontekoe (1996). Dimensions of the Hermeneutic Circle. Humanities Press International.
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  41. James Brashler (2009). From Erasmus to Calvin: Exploring the Roots of Reformed Hermeneutics. Interpretation 63 (2):154-166.
    Calvin's debt to the church reformers who preceded him both inside and outside the reform movements of the sixteenth century has not been sufficiently understood or appreciated. The humanistic methods of interpreting and teaching classical texts—including Scripture—as developed by Erasmus of Rotterdam decisively shaped Calvin's biblical hermeneutic.
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  42. Richard S. Briggs (2012). Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture). By Merold Westphal. Pp. 160. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2009, $19.99. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 53 (2):278-278.
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  43. Richard S. Briggs (2009). Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets (Studies in Theological Interpretation). By Christopher R. Seitz. Heythrop Journal 50 (1):140-141.
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  44. Richard S. Briggs (2006). The Hermeneutics of Charity: Interpretation, Selfhood, and Postmodern Faith Edited by James K. A. Smith & Henry Isaac Venema. Heythrop Journal 47 (4):678–679.
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  45. Garry M. Brodsky (1988). Evan Simpson, Ed., Anti-Foundationalism and Practical Reasoning: Conversations Between Hermeneutics and Analysis Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 8 (6):240-243.
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  46. Thom Brooks (2007). Review of Bradley L. Herling, The German Gita: Hermeneutics and Discipline in the German Reception of Indian Thought. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (3).
    This is a book review of Bradley Herling - "The German Gita".
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  47. Gerald Bruns (1992). Hermeneutics: Ancient and Modern. Yale University Press.
    Gerald L. Bruns. the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his recreation of that work" (p. 80). The notion of a pure language, a language uncontaminated by mere speech, may be one of modernity's great unkillable ...
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  48. Gerald L. Bruns (1984). The Problem of Figuration in Antiquity. In Gary Shapiro & Alan Sica (eds.), Hermeneutics: Questions and Prospects. University of Massachusetts Press. 147--164.
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  49. R. Onth Bubner (1994). Ground ofUnderstanding. In Brice R. Wachterhauser (ed.), Hermeneutics and Truth. Northwestern University Press. 68--82.
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  50. Ruediger Bubner (1994). On the Ground of Understanding. In Brice R. Wachterhauser (ed.), Hermeneutics and Truth. Northwestern University Press. 68--82.
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