Empathy remains poorly understood, under-theorized, and subject to conflicting and opportunistic uses. Its systematic role in human experience has not been analyzed and interpreted from top to bottom. In this book, the author attempts to provide such an analysis in the philosophical traditions of hermeneutics, phenomenology, analytic philosophy of language, and psychoanalysis. applying his interpretation of empathy to the philosophical issues of intentionality, the emotions, and the checkered transformations of empathy itself. In doing so the author aims to rescue empathy (...) from the margins of intelligibility and reveal its central role in our understanding of the emotions, the integrity of our relations with others, and human community (“intersubjectivity”). -/- The work draws on both the Anglo-American (“analytic”) tradition of ordinary language philosophy and the continental ones of phenomenology and hermeneutics. This work follows the movement of empathy from the periphery of ethics, aesthetics, and theory of mind to a key place in establishing and maintaining the integrity and emotional equilibrium of dynamic interrelations with other individuals. Beginning with the philosophical infrastructure of the hermeneutics of empathy, this work thoroughly explains the complex architecture of empathy, tracing it downward through the levels of authentic human interrelations, empathy with unexpressed emotions, the empathic penetrability of cognitively impenetrable affect, the first-ever intentional analysis of both the empathizer and the “empathasand” in interrelation, and the hermeneutic infrastructure. The consequences of empathy are exposed in the context of the emotions, cognitive impenetrability, empathy and altruism, and the intentionality of empathy as accessed through language and story telling. Drawing on the multi-method approach of hermeneutics, phenomenology, and story telling, this work demonstrates that empathy forms the foundation for community in ways not clearly appreciated in the on-going debate. In a bootstrap operation that is guided by Heidegger’s call for a “special hermeneutic of empathy,” this work achieves a delicate balancing act of unpacking the rich intellectual traditions from which empathy - the phenomenon itself, not the concept - emerged historically. The result is an exposure of the deep structure of empathy as a fundamentally human capability for creating possibilities of community and human relations. (shrink)
With the increasingly close relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) there has been a growing tendency in the mental health professions to interpret everyday emotional suffering and behavior as a medical condition that can be treated with a particular drug. In this paper, I suggest that hermeneutic phenomenology is uniquely suited to challenge the core assumptions of medicalization by expanding psychiatry's narrow conception of the self as an enclosed, biological individual and recognizing the ways in (...) which our experience of things--including mental illness--is shaped by the socio-historical situation in which we grow. Informed by hermeneutic phenomenology, psychiatry's first priority is to suspend the prejudices that come with being a medical doctor in order to hear what the patient is saying. To this end, psychiatry can begin to understand the patient not as a static, material body with a clearly defined brain dysfunction but as an unfolding, situation existence already involved in an irreducibly complex social world, an involvement that allows the patient to experience, feel, and make sense of their emotional suffering. (shrink)
It is argued that, despite the neglect which Heidegger’s writings on science have generally received, the “fundamental ontology” of Being and Time reveals certain structures of experience crucial for our understanding of science; and that, as these insights cast considerable doubt upon the validity of the empiricist/positivist conception of science, Heidegger deserves considerably better treatment as an incipient philosopher of science than has been the case thus far. His arguments for the distortive effects of the alleged “change over” from praxis (...) to theoria, for the circularity of all human understanding (including scientific understanding), for the necessity of interpreting scientific method in terms of the hermeneutic circle, and for viewing scientific “crises” in ontological terms, are examined and evaluated. The article concludes with some reflections on the later Heidegger’s views on the limits of his earlier idea of science. (shrink)
These essays lay the groundwork for a practice of philosophical inquiry adequate to polytheistic or "Pagan" religious traditions, including in particular the non-reductive hermeneutics of myth and the theory of the polycentric divine manifold. Includes the previously published articles "The Theological Interpretation of Myth" and "Polycentric Polytheism and the Philosophy of Religion", as well as the previously unpublished essays "Neoplatonism and Polytheism" and "A Theological Exegesis of the Iliad, Book One".
This article seeks in the Platonic philosophers of late antiquity insights applicable to a new discipline, the philosophy of Pagan religion. An impor¬tant element of any such discipline would be a method of mythological hermeneutics that could be applied cross-culturally. The article draws par¬ticular elements of this method from Sallust and Olympiodorus. Sallust’s five modes of the interpretation of myth (theological, physical, psychical, material and mixed) are discussed, with one of them, the theological, singled out for its applicability to all (...) myths and because it interprets myth in reference exclusively to the nature of the Gods and their relationship to a model of the cosmos in its totality. The other modes of interpretation, while useful in particular contexts, are not uniformly applicable to all myths, interpret the myths as concerning things other than the Gods themselves, and interpret the myths with reference to particular sectors of the cosmos. Accordingly, it is from Sallust’s theological mode of interpre¬tation that the new method draws its inspiration. From Olympiodorus the method derives strategies for interpreting basic narrative attributes that myths share with all stories. Thus temporal sequence is interpreted as an ascent, from our perspective, from less perfect to more perfect manifestations of the powers of the Gods. Passivity, conflict, and transitive relations in general between the Gods are interpreted as expressing attributes of the cosmos to the constitution of which the Gods dedicate their energies, rather than as placing constraint upon the Gods themselves. The article concludes with a series of broad principles meant to guide the new method. (shrink)
Like other sciences, biosemiotics also has its time-honoured archive, consisting, among other things, of writings by those who have been invented and revered as ancestors of the discipline. One such example is Jakob von Uexküll who has been hailed as a precursor of semiotics, developing his theory of “sign” and “meaning” independently of Saussure and Peirce. The juxtaposition of “sign” and “meaning” is revelatory because one can equally legitimately claim Uexküll as a hermeneutician in the same way as others having (...) claimed him as a semiotician. Such a novel temptation can be justified by Uexküll’s prolonged obsession with Sinn and Bedeutung since his first book in 1909. This paper attempts to reconstruct the immediate intellectual horizon of Uexküll’s historicity, a discursive space traversed by his contemporaries Frege and Husserl, in order to see how Uexküll’s discussions of Zeichen and Gegenstand, Sinn and Bedeutung, were informedby other philosophers of language, and to establish Uexküll as a phenomenological hermeneutician in the tradition of Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer. To forestall and counter possible criticism that hermeneutics is primarily concerned with textual interpretation, while Uexküll is at most an interpreter of animal life, the paper will discuss his unfinished parody of the Platonic dialogue Meno, which is entitled Die ewige Frage: Biologische Variationen über einen platonischen Dialog (1943). It is through such textual practice that one witnesses the emergence of an Uexküll who embodies at once the addressee exercising his understanding of ancient texts as well as the second addresser recoding his explanation to another group of targeted addressees. This textual practice already goes beyond the confines of biology and in fact involves the linguistic pragmatics of rhetoric and speech act. (shrink)
The present paper aims to bring to light the relevance of Wittgenstein‘s thought for philosophical hermeneutics. In this sense it offers a thorough discussion of the Austrian philosopher‘s understanding of the concept of translation through a detailed examination of its development from its first formulation in the context of the picture theory of meaning in the Tractatus to its reformulation as "language game" and "form of life" within the use theory put forth in Philosophical Investigations. The paper argues that the (...) skepticism towards the history of everyday language implied by Wittgenstein‘s understanding of translation could be taken as an important step forward in the development of a critical dimension of philosophical hermeneutics. (shrink)
¿Qué es razonar?, ¿qué es interpretar?, ¿cómo podemos estar seguros de que determinadas interpretaciones, en ciertos contextos políticos, sociales, culturales, etc., son más razonables que otras? Estas preguntas se encuentran en el origen de dos tradiciones de pensamiento: la hermenéutica y la analítica.
There are numerous books which seek to interpret Martin Heidegger’s seminal text, Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), and others which address the question of how to translate his writings. By joining these two tasks, Translation and Interpretation: Learning from Beiträge, stands out from other such books in the field of Heidegger studies. The volume begins with Parvis Emad’s translation of an original essay by Martin Heidegger, “Contributions of Philosophy. The Da-sein and the Be-ing (Enowning).” -/- Through six carefully crafted essays, (...) Emad then takes the reader through a journey which examines the relationship between Heidegger’s being-historical thinking and such key figures—including Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Friedrich Hölderlin—who either occupy the forefront at the end of metaphysics or mark the “crossing” to the “other beginning.” -/- This book will be of special interest to scholars and graduate students alike, whether in philosophy or such diverse fields as poetry and linguistics. (shrink)
Earth possesses a double-character: it supports life and grounds perception and experience, but because of being this very base, also restricts these stances, since as base of any activity, theoretical or practical, it cannot be overstepped. Thus, earth itself is also groundless. Nevertheless, this duplicity is not contradictory, is no dualism, when formulated as earth being both a space of movement and a space of sense. Understanding this duplicity means understanding the intertwining of these two spaces by articulating the possibilities (...) of movements within sense; it means an understanding of sense and meaning in moving. This is the task of philosophy: both alienation from earth and the matter-of-course of its sense and return to it by taking part in its sense of moving and becoming. This is gained by interpretation, of which we draw on as a model reading Nietzsche on 'Will to Power' and perspectivity, and Plato's conception of dialectic. Thus, interpretation represents itself sensibly in earth's duplicity. (shrink)
This essay represents part of an effort to rewrite the history metaphysics in terms of what philosophy never said, nor could say. It works from the Neoplatonic commentary tradition on Plato's Parmenides as the matrix for a distinctively apophatic thinking that takes the truth of metaphysical doctrines as something other than anything that can be logically articulated. It focuses on Damascius in the 5—6th century AD as the culmination of this tradition in the ancient world and emphasizes that Neoplatonism represents (...) the crisis of Greek metaphysics on account of the inability to give a rational account of foundations for knowing and of the ultimate principle of beings. Neoplatonism discovered how all such ultimate principles were necessarily beyond the reach of reason and speech. This apophatic insight is drawn out with the help of contemporary criticism of Neoplatonic philosophy, defining also some points of divergence. The essay then discusses the motives for thinking the unsayable in postmodern times on the basis of this parallel with Neoplatonic thought. Discourse's becoming critical of itself to the point of self-subversion animates them both. However, the tendency in postmodern thought to totally reject theology, including negative theology, is a betrayal of its own deepest motivations. This tendency is debated through an examination of the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy. While any traditional discourse can be negated, the negating and self-negating capacity of discourse itself is infinite, and this is where a perennial negative theological philosophy of the unsayable is to be located. Language, eminently the language of philosophy, as infinitely open, points in a direction which becomes equally and ineluctably theological. (shrink)
There are close parallels between perception (the interpretation of sensory experience as representing physical objects) and hermeneutics (the interpretation of signs as having meaning). Perceptual illusions corresponds to ambiguities in texts; naive realism corresponds to fundamentalism; the scientist's reinterpretation of the "manifest image" to the global/local interplay of the "hermeneutic circle" in the interpretation of large texts.
Escribir hoy en día un libro sobre hermenéutica, que tal hermenéutica se refiera a la desarrollada por G. Gadamer en su conocido Verdad y método y que se pretenda añadir algo nuevo a lo mucho escrito sobre el tema parecería, a primera vista, empresa irrealizable. Que ambas pretensiones inspiren la sólida monografía de María G. Navarro —titulada Interpretar y argumentar— constituye empresa audaz y arriesgada, plena de coraje innovador, que provoca admiración, curiosidad e interés. Contra lo que pudiera parecer a (...) primera vista, el libro contiene un alto componente de originalidad y creatividad, debido a la estratagema metodoló-gica de que se sirve la autora. A saber, una hermenéutica in obliquo, estrategia consistente en interpretar a la hermenéutica gadameriana a través del prisma de la lógica de la argumentación. (shrink)
El libro de María González Navarro se presenta a sí mismo como una “nueva hermenéutica” (23). La novedad involucra dos aspectos: uno que llamaremos metateórico y otro hermenéutico en propiedad. Hablando metateóricamente, el libro presenta una hermenéutica gadameriana vigorizada y robustecida por las teorías pragma-dialécticas de la argumentación. Desde el punto de vista hermenéutico propiamente dicho, la novedad reposa en que se considera que la interpretación correcta está indesligablemente vinculada a la argumentación abductiva.
This paper argues that what is needed to properly engage the human obsession with strangers and enemies is a critical hermeneutic capable of addressing the dialectic of others and aliens, that is, a hermeneutic that can solicit ethical decisions without succumbing to over hasty acts of binary exclusion. It is argued that we need to be able to critically differentiate between different kinds of otherness, while remaining alert to the deconstructive challenge to black-and-white judgements of us-versus-them. We need, at critical (...) moments, to expose the other in the alien and the alien in the other. (shrink)
Our digital society increasingly relies in the power of others’ aggregated judgments to make decisions. Questions as diverse as which film we will watch, what scientific news we will decide to read, which path we will follow to find a place, or what political candidate we will vote for are usually associated to a rating that influences our final decisions.
The word έρμηνεία means expression and interpretation of a thought, from which the word ‘hermeneutics’ comes. Some authors (Kerényi, 1963; Verjat, 2004) maintain that subsequently the name Hermes, the Greek god, came from this same root. Hermes was the brother of Apollo and Athene, the son of Zeus and Maia, from which it could be deduced that he is paired by lineage with images of light on the one hand and darkness and opacity on the other (Duque, 1994). Both metaphors (...) remind us that the expression and interpretation of thoughts may follow either a rational or an irrational order. However, the function that this divinity fulfilled in ancient Greece is not so hypothetical: ‘hermas’ were the stones marking the boundaries between lands. Likewise, it is equally indisputable that Hermes was the messenger of the gods and also taken as a sort of patron of thieves, since no sooner was he born than he stole some of their most characteristic belongings from several gods, with which he is usually portrayed. Therefore, if we examine the varied facets antiquity perceived in this divinity in the light of, and in conjunction with the word ‘hermeneutic’, we may infer from the latter that he is full of contrasts, because finally we must take account of different things: [he] takes and brings announcements and prophecies, marks limits and distances and, at the same time, it seems that wherever he bursts in upon the scene things never stay as they are or where they are – as a result of theft or, in short, alteration. (shrink)
Las definiciones de argumentación son tan variadas como las distintas posiciones existentes en torno a la pregunta de qué hacemos exactamente cuando argumentamos y cuándo estamos, de hecho, argumentando. Incluso el mismo autor puede ofrecer más de una definición de lo que entiende por argumentación; en parte, porque el problema de la argumentación no se circunscribe a un solo ámbito, ni del conocimiento ni de la vida práctica.
One way of viewing the organizing structure of the Confessions is to see it as an engagement with various texts at different phases of St. Augustine’s life. In the early books of the Confessions, Augustine describes the disordered state that made him unable to read any text (sacred or profane) properly. Yet following his conversion his entire orientation— not only to texts but also to reality as a whole—changes. This essay attempts to trace the winding paths that lead up to (...) Augustine’s conversion through his various encounters with texts (and individuals) and to examine his struggles both intellectual and spiritual along the way. In the final section, I bring Augustine into conversation with Hans-Georg Gadamer in order to highlight a number of hermeneutical continuities shared by premoderns and postmoderns. After comparing premodern and modern hermeneutical orientations, I conclude that Augustine’s approach to Scripture contrasts sharply with a (strict) modern grammatico-historical biblical methodology, whereas premodern hermeneutics share a number of continuities with Gadamerian and postmodern emphases. Lastly, in light of Gadamer’s famous statement, ‘all of life is hermeneutics’, I suggest that perhaps we could read Augustine’s life as affirming this claim. By taking a close look at Augustine’s story, I will attempt to show how pre-judgments, interpretative traditions and a dynamic/analogical rather than a static/univocal understanding of text (and reality) decisively affected his spiritual and intellectual vision—observations Gadamer would no doubt heartily affirm. (shrink)