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

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.

Related categories
Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Hermeneutics

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  1. When There's No Place Like Home: Heidegger, Hermeneutics, and the Narratives of Adopted Adolescents.Scott William Abbott - 1999 - Dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology - Berkeley/Alameda
    Numerous studies have demonstrated that adopted persons, and in particular adolescents, are over-represented in psychotherapeutic treatment settings. Traditionally, clinical approaches to the treatment of distressed adopted persons have focused on largely decontextualized intrapsychic or familial concerns such as attachment issues, the formation of a self-concept and identity, or failures in navigating developmental stages. ;From the point of view of ontological hermeneutics, psychological categories fall short of addressing broader cultural and philosophical dimensions, such as the experience of not "being-at-home-in-the-world," a sense (...)
  2. What is Hermeneutics?Romualdo Abulad - 2007 - Journal of Human Values 1 (2):11-23.
    ermeneutics is the art of interpretation – we shall not forget that and we will return to it again and again, for that is what hermeneutics is – the art of interpretation. We might do well, however, to stare at the word ‘hermeneutics’ just by way of a starting point. Hermeneutics – the word goes back to a name, Hermes. Who is Hermes? Among the earliest references to him is made by no less than Plato in the dialogue, Cratylus.1 The (...)
  3. Ricoeur and Castoriadis in Discussion: On Human Creation, Historical Novelty, and the Social Imaginary.Suzi Adams (ed.) - 2017 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
    This volume makes available for the first time an encounter between Ricoeur and Castoriadis on questions of human creation, social imaginaries, history, and the imagination to an English speaking audience. As such it represents a highly significant resource for scholars, and a lively introduction to each of their thought for newcomers.
  4. Paul Klee's Pictorial Writing.Kathryn Porter Aichele & Paul Klee - 2002
  5. Hermeneutics, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere.Roberto Alejandro - 1993
  6. Hermeneutical Violence.Edwin Alexander - 1981 - Philosophy Today 25 (4):286-306.
  7. Escatología, hermeneútica y lenguaje.Juan José Alfaro - 1980 - Salmanticensis 27 (2):233-246.
  8. Reconstructive Hermeneutical Philosophy. Return Ticket to the Human Condition.Alison Scott-Baumann - 2003 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (6):703-727.
    Making meaning out of life requires effort, sustained thought and action. It can be difficult to reassert our responsibility for solving real life problems from within social science research or current trends, such as extremely deconstructivist text, and postmodernism in its cheerfully nihilistic guise. Hermeneutical philosophy, of the Ricoeurian reconstructive mode, rehabilitates text as a powerful device for influencing others and offers us courage to proceed with the human project by developing a way of writing, thinking and behaving that is (...)
  9. A Expressão Do Real: Estética E Hermenêutica Das Imagens.Rogério de Almeida & Marcos Beccari - 2016 - Filosofia E Educação 8 (1):7.
  10. Act & Quality: A Theory of Literary Meaning and Humanistic Understanding.Charles Altieri - 1982 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41 (2):227-229.
  11. Interpretação e compreensão: da hermenêutica metodológica à experiência hermenêutica como crítica e fundamento do saber filosófico.Marcos Alexandre Alves - 2011 - Princípios 18 (30):181-198.
    Normal 0 21 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 O presente artigo analisa a passagem da hermenêutica metodológica à experiência hermenêutica como crítica e fundamento do saber filosófico. Inicialmente, apresenta a crítica da hermenêutica à absolutizaçáo da lógica matemática como estrutura da pesquisa e produçáo de sentido na filosofia. A lógica matemática sedimenta a dinâmica da vida do homem por náo estar aberta às contingências da existência, porém a vida do homem náo se compreende sob a forma da lógica matemática. Posteriormente, demonstra (...)
  12. Dilthey: The Hermeneutics of Life and the Universal Aspirations of Pedagogy.Maria Nazaré de Camargo Pacheco Amaral - 2012 - Trans/Form/Ação 35 (1):89-114.
    Dilthey claimed that first psychology and then hermeneutics played the foundational role for his philosophy of life, whose main practical goal is to develop a pedagogy or theory of education. Pedagogy needs help from ethics to establish its ends, and from psychology to indicate its means. This paper intends to show the relationship between Dilthey's hermeneutics of life and his pedagogy. Dilthey's philosophy of life, in so far it adopts the hermeneutical procedure, engages in the understanding of, or the search (...)
  13. Cold Fusion.Robert D' Amico - 1993 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 97:112.
  14. Scott E. Campbell and Paul W. Bruno (Eds.), The Science, Politics, and Ontology of Life-Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, 267 Pp., ISBN: 9781441123534. [REVIEW]Marom Amnon - 2015 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 10 (4):683-684.
  15. La Hermenéutica analógica.Ciro Schmidt Andrade - 2011 - Analogía Filosófica: Revista de Filosofía, Investigación y Difusión 28 (28):55-70.
  16. Interpretation Und Wahrheit.Emil Angehrn & Bernard Baertschi - 1998
  17. Perspectiva Hermeneutica. El Trabajo Del Símbolo.Jaime Rubio Angulo - 1985 - Universitas Philosophica 5:37-56.
  18. My Sister and I; Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue; Nietzsche and the Question of Interpretation. Between Hermeneutics and Deconstruction; Within Nietzsche’s Labyrinth. [REVIEW]Keith Ansell-Pearson - 1992 - Radical Philosophy 60.
  19. The Common Presuppositions of Hermeneutics and Ethics: Types of Rationality Beyond Science and Technology.Karl-Otto Apel - 1979 - Research in Phenomenology 9 (1):35-53.
  20. Theorie-Diskussion Hermeneutik Und Ideologiekritik.Karl-Otto Apel - 1971 - Suhrkamp.
  21. Exteriorização, Alienação E Formação Cultural No Capítulo Vi da Fenomenologia Do Espírito.João Emiliano Fortaleza de Aquino - 2014 - Trans/Form/Ação 37 (1):129-150.
    Nossa proposta é pensar a relação entre a função sistemática da Fenomenologia do Espírito, no pensamento de Hegel, e as categorias de exteriorização e alienação, conforme o objeto e o método expositivo próprios dessa ciência filosófica (e da obra que a expõe). Dessa forma, apresentamos a hipótese de uma fundamental relação entre alienação e formação cultural no capítulo VI da Fenomenologia do Espírito. A demonstração de que a exposição dessa obra não trata diretamente de objetos, mas da experiência da consciência (...)
  22. Miseria y esplendor de la interpretación. En torno a los límites de la hermenéutica en Pieper y en Ortega / The Misery and Splendor of Interpretation: About the Limits of Hermeneutics in Pieper and Ortega.Roberto E. Aras - 2004 - Sapientia 59 (216):297-305.
  23. Hermeneutics, analogy and rhetoric. Interview with Mauricio Bechot.Francisco Arenas-Dolz - 2005 - Endoxa 20:677-718.
  24. The Context of Morality and the Question of Ethics: From Naive Existentialism to Suspicious Hermeneutics.Vilhjalmur Arnason - 1982 - Dissertation, Purdue University
    This study attempts to situate ethical discourse within descriptions of a moral context which do justice both to concrete individual moral experiences and to the socio-historical framework within which they are lived. In light of these descriptions it is argued that an adequate theory of morality must focus on the essential continuity between the individual moral life and the communal practices and institutions which constitute our ethical substance. ;In Chapter One it is shown how the existentialist liberation of the moral (...)
  25. Metafísica Del Yo y Hermenéutica Diltheyana de la Vida.Jorge Nicolás Vicente Arregui - 1988 - Anuario Filosófico 21 (1):97-122.
  26. Ensayos Sobre Hermenéutica Analógico-Barroca.Samuel Arriarán & Elizabeth Hernández Alvídrez (eds.) - 2006 - Editorial Torres Asociados.
  27. Hermeneutics of language and symbolism.Jose Arrizabalaga - 2005 - Endoxa 20:245-262.
  28. Text as Sliding Signifier.John Arthos - 2015 - Research in Phenomenology 45 (3):412-429.
    _ Source: _Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 412 - 429 In the 1980s Ricoeur conceptualized metaphoricity and narrativity as twin ends of a discursive field governed by the productive imagination. A decade earlier Ricoeur was working at a significantly different proposition. He wanted to establish a parallel, in fact a strong homology, between metaphor and _text_. In both cases Ricoeur articulated a complex criteriology to establish the parallelism between the terms. Should we regard the earlier parallel as a first and (...)
  29. Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project (Review).G. Douglas Atkins - 1988 - Philosophy and Literature 12 (2):313-314.
  30. The Relationship Between Hermeneutics and Ontology in the Case of Aristotle's ΠΕΡΙ ΕΡΜΗΝΕΙΑΣ.Pierre Aubenque, Tom Krell & Ian Alexander Moore - 2013 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 34 (1):3-20.
  31. Undecidability’ or ‘Anticipatory Resoluteness’ Caputo in Conversation with Heidegger.Sylvie Avakian - 2015 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 77 (2):123-139.
    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, (...)
  32. 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]A. J. Ayer, J. O'Grady, Blackwell Oxford, J. Bacon, K. Campbell & L. Reinhardt - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (1).
  33. A Trace Of Hermeneutics In Plato And Aristotle.Alireza Azad - 2005 - Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research 16 (1-2).
  34. Ética y hermenéutica.Carlos B. Gutiérrez - 2000 - Natureza Humana 2 (2):249-272.
  35. Wilhelm Dilthey's Philosophy of Historical Understanding.H. B. - 1970 - Review of Metaphysics 24 (2):347-348.
  36. Beyond Metaphysics Gianni Vattimo and the Meaning of Hermeneutics for Political Theory.Michael Bacon - 2016 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (8):763-776.
    This article examines Gianni Vattimo’s contribution to the recent ontological turn in political theory. Drawing on Nietzsche and Heidegger, Vattimo offers a ‘philosophy of history’ in which strong metaphysical claims are presented as gradually being weakened, but in which the irrationalism he thinks characteristic of many anti-foundationalist theorists is also avoided. This philosophy is said to provide for new understandings of ethical and political life which have the acceptance of pluralism as their aim. The article argues that Vattimo’s attempt to (...)
  37. „das Ego Ist Also Keine Realität“. Zur Vor- Und Nachgeschichte Von Husserls Londoner Vorträgen.Béla Bacsó - 2010 - Internationales Jahrbuch für Hermeneutik.
  38. Die Unvermeidbarkeit des Irrtums Essays Zur Hermeneutik.Béla Bacsó - 1997
  39. Geist und Buchstabe - Buchstabe und Geist, ausgehend von Schleiermachers Reden 'Über die Religion'.Günter Bader - 2006 - Internationales Jahrbuch für Hermeneutik.
  40. Landscape and Memory in the Work of Paul Celan.Ulrich Baer - 1996 - Semiotics:111-123.
  41. Sean E. MCEVENUE, Ben F. MEYERS , "Lonergan's Hermeneutics". [REVIEW]B. Baertschi - 1994 - Revue de Théologie Et de Philosophie 126:286.
  42. The Hermeneutics of the Young Marx: According To Marx's Approach To the Philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus.O. Balaban - 1989 - 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.
  43. 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]Joe Balay - 2013 - Research in Phenomenology 43 (2):267-273.
  44. Evelyn Barish.The Double Life of Paul de Man. New York: Liveright, 2014. 560 Pp. [REVIEW]Ian Balfour - 2016 - Critical Inquiry 42 (3):712-713.
  45. Apresentação - Direito E Filosofia: Fundamentos E Hermenêutica = Law and Philosophy: Foundations and Hermeneutics.Álvaro Balsas & Ricardo Barroso Batista - 2014 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 70 (2-3):199-204.
  46. Presentation - Law and Philosophy: Foundations and Hermeneutics.Álvaro Balsas & Ricardo Barroso Batista - 2014 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 70 (2-3):199-204.
  47. Wilhelm Dilthey, Selected Works, Volume IV: Hermeneutics and the Study of History (Review).Charles R. Bambach - 1998 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (4):641-642.
  48. Autonomy: Beyond Kant and Hermeneutics.Paula Banerjee & Samir Kumar Das (eds.) - 2007 - 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 ...
  49. Why Remember the Historical Past? Reflections on Historical Skepticism in Our Times.Jeffrey Barash - 2008 - Internationales Jahrbuch für Hermeneutik.
  50. Emporhebendes Scheinen.Damir Barbarić - 2010 - Internationales Jahrbuch für Hermeneutik.
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