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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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Hans-Georg Gadamer
  1. Oscar Moro Abadía (2011). Hermeneutical Contributions to the History of Science: Gadamer on 'Presentism'. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):372-380.
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  2. Joseph Agassi (1994). Gadamer Without Tears. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (4):485-505.
    The chief feature of Gadamer's philosophy is his claim that the humanities obey their own rules concerning reading texts and ensuring certitude. The promise of certitude is illusory, however, and the discourses on interpretation by him and his leading disciples are too confused to instruct the reader. His own sketch of his philosophy, published in his autobiographic Philosophical Apprenticeship, and its reflection in Gadamer and Hermeneutics (Hugh J. Silverman, ed.), shows this and reveals him as still too insensitive to the (...)
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  3. Christopher Albrecht (2001). Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Hermeneutics, Religion, and Ethics. Review of Metaphysics 55 (2):393-395.
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  4. Linda Martín Alcoff (2003). Gadamer's Feminist Epistemology. In Lorraine Code (ed.), Feminist Interpretations of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Pennsylvania State University Press.
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  5. Lluis Àlvarez (2000). Gadamer, l'Europa E la Filosofia. Iride 13 (2):295-304.
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  6. Joshua Amaru (2003). Gadamer's Century: Essays in Honor of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Common Knowledge 9 (3):545-546.
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  7. Peter Amato (2006). Marxist Critique and Philosophical Hermeneutics. Radical Philosophy Today 2006:235-242.
    Philosophically robust conceptions of ethical life and moral critique would advance the struggle against capital. Marx can be read as implying that human life is irreducibly meaningful, linguistic, and cultural, but he often is not. Whether or not Marx recognized them himself, these dimensions of life have not been sufficiently thematized or developed by Marxists. I argue that we can move toward doing so with assistance from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. A hermeneutical approach to historical materialism would help clarify and (...)
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  8. Francis J. Ambrosio (1995). Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History. Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):134-135.
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  9. Francis J. Ambrosio (1988). Gadamer and Aristotle. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 62:174-182.
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  10. Francis J. Ambrosio (1987). Gadamer. The Owl of Minerva 19 (1):23-40.
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  11. Francis J. Ambrosio (1987). Gadamer, Plato, and the Discipline of Dialogue. International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1):17-32.
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  12. Marc H. Applebaum (2011). (Mis)Appropriations of Gadamer in Qualitative Research: A Husserlian Critique (Part 1). Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology 11 (1).
    Within the Husserlian phenomenological philosophical tradition, description and interpretation co-exist. However, teaching the practice of phenomenological psychological research requires careful articulation of the differences between a descriptive and an interpretive relationship to what is provided by qualitative data. If as researchers we neglect the epistemological foundations of our work or avoid working through difficult methodological issues, then our work invites dismissal as inadequate science, undermining the effort to strongly establish psychology along qualitative lines. The first article in this two-part discussion (...)
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  13. K. Arlt (1997). bei F. Schleiermacher und H.-G. Gadamer. Synthesis Philosophica 12:135-174.
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  14. Pablo Arnau (1997). Relativismo Cognitivo E Historicidad: (Dilthey, Collingwood, Gadamer). Universitat de València.
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  15. Kristján G. Arngrímsson (2002). Gadamer on Authority. SATS 3 (1):76-82.
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  16. John Arthos Jr (2000). Gadamer at the Cumaean Gates. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 74 (2):223-248.
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  17. Christopher E. Arthur (1976). Gadamer and Hirsch: The Canonical Work and the Interpreter's Intention. Philosophy and Social Criticism 4 (2):183-197.
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  18. Camille E. Atkinson (2009). Is Gadamer's Hermeneutics Inherently Conservative? Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 14 (2).
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  19. Gary E. Aylesworth (1991). Dialogue, Text, Narrative: Confronting Gadamer and Ricoeur. In Hans-Georg Gadamer & Hugh J. Silverman (eds.), Gadamer and Hermeneutics. New York ;Routledge. 63--81.
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  20. Alireza Azadi (2008). A Critical View on Pol Vandevelde's "A Critique of Gadamer's Critical Pluralism". Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 21:5-13.
    Gadamer’s hermeneutics has met with criticism in the more than forty years since the original German publication of Wahrheit und Methode in 1960. A figure who has recently criticized Gadamer’s hermeneutics from the perspective of traditional hermeneutics is Pol Vandevelde. He published a book entitled: "The Task of the Interpreter: Text, Meaning, and Negotiation”. The first two chapters of this book, especially the second chapter, with the title “Interpretation as Event: A Critique of Gadamer’s Critical Pluralism,” is devoted to attacking (...)
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  21. Tom Bailey (2007). Filosofia Pratica E Sfera Pubblica: Percorsi a Confronto: Höffe, Geertz, O'Neill, Gadamer, Taylor – Alberto Pirni. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226):151–153.
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  22. J. M. Baker (2002). Lyric as Paradigm: Hermeneutics and the Speculative Instance of Poetry in Gadamer's Hermeneutic. In Robert J. Dostal (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer. Cambridge University Press.
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  23. Kimberly Baltzer (2004). The Philosophy of Gadamer. Symposium 8 (1):141-142.
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  24. Michael W. Barclay (1994). J. Wallulis, The Hermeneutics of Life History: Personal Achievement and History in Gadamer, Habermas, and Erikson. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1990, 158 Pp., $29.95 (Cloth). [REVIEW] Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 25 (1):131-135.
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  25. Lauren Swayne Barthold (2014). Gadamer and the Question of the Divine. By Walter Lammi. Pp. Ix, 192, London, Continuum, 2008, $107.07. Ricoeur and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion. By Alison Scott‐Baumann. Pp. X, 237, London, Continuum, 2009, $44.95. The Inner Word in Gadamer's Hermeneutics. By John Arthos. Pp. Xx, 460, Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 2009, $53.99. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 55 (1):163-167.
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  26. Lauren Swayne Barthold (2010). Friendship and the Ethics of Understanding. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 14 (2):417-429.
    In the following essay I explore the hermeneutical significance of Gadamer’s writings on the relational, and thus ethical, components of understanding. First, I look at his discussion in Truth and Method of the significance of the “I-Thou” relation for interpretation. I then turn to his 1985 essay on Aristotle’s notion of friendship, “Friendship and Self-Knowledge: Reflections on the Role of Friendship in Greek Ethics.” My interest is to think about the implications of these writings for his theory of hermeneutics in (...)
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  27. Lauren Swayne Barthold (2010). Gadamer's Dialectical Hermeneutics. Lexington Books.
    Gadamer's Dialectical Hermeneutics affirms the continuity between Gadamer's interest in Plato and his hermeneutics by focusing on the role of dialectic for Gadamer's own conception of understanding.
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  28. Werner Beierwaltes (1990). Collected Works. Vol. 3. Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger. Vol. Philosophy and History 23 (1):15-16.
  29. Robert Bernasconi (1986). Bridging the Abyss: Heidegger and Gadamer. Research in Phenomenology 16 (1):1-24.
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  30. Rudolf Bernet (2005). Gadamer on the Subject's Participation in the Game of Truth. Review of Metaphysics 58 (4):785 - 814.
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  31. Richard J. Bernstein (2008). The Conversation That Never Happened (Gadamer/Derrida). Review of Metaphysics 61 (3):577-603.
  32. Richard J. Bernstein (1983). Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. University of Pennsylvania Press.
    "A fascinating and timely treatment of the objectivism versus relativism debates occurring in philosophy of science, literary theory, the social sciences, ...
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  33. E. Berti (2000). Gadamer and the Reception of Aristotle. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofía 56 (3):345-360.
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  34. Enrico Berti (2000). Gadamer and the Reception of Aristotle's Intellectual Virtues. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 56 (3/4):345 - 360.
    In his recent edition, with translation and commentary, of Aristotle, Eth. Nic. VI, Hans-Georg Gadamer reproposes his interpretation of Aristotle's practical philosophy as a model for his own hermeneutics, confirming in this way his tendency to identify practical philosophy with the intellectual virtue of phronesis. Furthermore, although he recognizes the primacy attributed by Aristotle to the theoretical life, Gadamer tends to undervalue it and to consider phronesis and sophia at the same level. In particular he believes that (...)
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  35. E. F. Bertoldi (1984). Gadamer's Criticisms of Collingwood. Idealistic Studies 14 (3):213-228.
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  36. E. F. Bertoldi (1984). Gadamer's Criticisms of Collingwood. Idealistic Studies 14 (3):213-228.
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  37. Franco Bianco (2004). Introduzione a Gadamer. Glf Editori Laterza.
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  38. Martin Bidney (2001). Gadamer On Celan. International Studies in Philosophy 33 (2):141-143.
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  39. Joseph Bien (2008). Couch on Art in Arendt and Gadamer. Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (2):17-20.
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  40. Linda L. Binding & Dianne M. Tapp (2008). Human Understanding in Dialogue: Gadamer's Recovery of the Genuine. Nursing Philosophy 9 (2):121-130.
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  41. Peg Birmingham (2004). Gadamer's Century. Review of Metaphysics 57 (4):851-853.
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  42. Ed Block (1989). Gadamer, Christian Tradition, and the Critic. Renascence 41 (4):211-232.
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  43. Núria Sara Miras Boronat, Die Welt Als Grund: Wittgenstein, Gadamer Und James. Akten des XXII. Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie.
  44. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein (2013). Speech, Writing, and Play in Gadamer and Derrida. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 9 (1):249-264.
    I revisit the Derrida-Gadamer debate in order to analyze more closely the problem of the foundation of reason and of interpretation. I explore the theme of play as a metaphor of non-foundation in both philosophers and analyze how both extract this quality from their readings of Plato’s Phaedrus . Does Derrida not essentialize the game by declaring that the playful experience of a Gadamerian dialogue must produce a metaphysical presence in the form of a hermeneutic intention? I find that the (...)
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  45. Richard S. Briggs (2009). Wittgenstein and Gadamer: Towards a Post-Analytic Philosophy of Language. By Chris Lawn. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 50 (3):550-551.
  46. Walter A. Brogan (2002). Gadamer's Praise of Theory: Aristotle's Friend and the Reciprocity Between Theory and Practice. Research in Phenomenology 32 (1):141-155.
    Gadamer's rethinking of the interconnection of theory and practice can lead to a resolution of the debate in contemporary Aristotelian scholarship regarding the priority of theory or practice in Aristotle's Ethics. This is especially true in light of Aristotle's treatment of friendship which, as I will try to show, provides support for Gadamer's claim. In Aristotle's notion of friendship, theory and practice come together, and the activity of friendship is for Aristotle the highest expression of human life precisely because true (...)
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  47. Hugues Brouillet (1997). WARNKE, Georgia, Gadamer, Herméneutique, Tradition Et raisonWARNKE, Georgia, Gadamer, Herméneutique, Tradition Et Raison. Laval Théologique Et Philosophique 53 (1):241-244.
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  48. Rudiger Bubner (2007). Looking Back on Gadamer's Hermeneutics. In Santiago Zabala (ed.), Weakening Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Gianni Vattimo. Mcgill-Queen's University Press.
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  49. Kenneth L. Buckman (1997). Gadamer on Art, Morality, and Authority. Philosophy and Literature 21 (1):144-150.
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  50. Thomas W. Busch (2002). Gadamer and Sartre on Self-Transformation. Symposium 6 (2):195-202.
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