Edited by Theodore George (Texas A&M University)
Assistant editor: David Liakos (University of New Mexico)
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. Notable developments in the post-war ear include debate that arose between hermeneutics, on the one hand, and deconstruction and critical theory on the other. More recently, hermeneutics has come to be associated with figures in the continental tradition such as Gianni Vattimo, John Caputo, and Gunter Figal, and figures in the anglophone context such as Richard Rorty, and John McDowell. 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 nursing, 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. Jean Grondin's notable Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics includes an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources in ancient and modern hermeneutics. Two important companions to the philosophical study of hermeneutics are Niall Keane and Chris Lawn, eds.,The Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics and Jeff Malpas and Hans-Helmut Gander, eds., The Routledge Companion to 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

Keane, Niall and Lawn, Chris, eds. [#KEATBC:The Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics]

Maplas, Jeff and Gander, Hans-Helmut, eds., The Routledge Companion to 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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Material to categorize
  1. The Community of Interpreters: On the Hermeneutics of Nature and the Bible in the American Philosophical Tradition.Robert S. Corrington - 1989 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 25 (1):57-61.
  2. Horizonal Hermeneutics and the Actual Infinite.Robert S. Corrington - 1982 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 8 (1/2):36-97.
  3. Primary Teaching How It Is: A Narrative Account. London: David Foulton.M. Cortazzi - 1991 - Critical Inquiry 17:336-57.
  4. Nelson Saldanha, Ordem E Hermenêutica. Sobre as Relções Entre as Formas de Organi-Zação E o Pensamento Interpretativo, Principalmente No Direito. [REVIEW]Xavier Daverat - 1993 - Archives de Philosophie du Droit 38:378-379.
  5. The Garments of Torah Essays in Biblical Hermeneutics.Michael A. Fishbane - 1989
  6. Hermeneutics, Semiotics and Anthropology.Tomas J. Lopez - 2011 - Semiotics:63-71.
  7. Leibniz and China: Religion, Hermeneutics, and Enlightenment.Eric S. Nelson - 2009 - Religion in the Age of Enlightenment (RAE) 1: 277-300.
  8. Philosophical Hermeneutics Reinterpreted: Dialogues with Existentialism, Pragmatism, Critical Theory and Postmodernism. By Paul Fairfield. Pp. 263, London, Continuum 2011, $120.00. [REVIEW]Troy Polidori - 2014 - Heythrop Journal 55 (4):745-746.
  9. Hermenéutica analógica e interculturalidad.Mauricio Beuchot Puente - 2011 - Revista de Filosofía (México) 43 (131):85-97.
  10. Hermenéutica analógica y nueva ontología.Mauricio Beuchot Puente - 2005 - Estudios Filosóficos 54 (156):229-238.
Hans-Georg Gadamer
  1. Congreso Internacional de Hermenéutica Filosófica. El Legado de Gadamer. Aavv (ed.) - 2004 - Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada.
  2. Hermeneutical Contributions to the History of Science: Gadamer on 'Presentism'.Oscar Moro Abadía - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):372-380.
    This article examines how Hans G. Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics can contribute to contemporary debates on the concept of ‘presentism’. In the field of the history of science, this term is usually employed in two ways. First, ‘presentism’ refers to the kind of historiography which judges the past to legitimate the present. Second, this concept designates the inevitable influence of the present in the interpretation of the past. In this paper, I argue that both dimensions of the relationship between the present (...)
  3. 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 (...)
  4. What is Hermeneutics?Romauldo E. Abulad - 2007 - Kritike 1 (2).
  5. El diálogo que somos: la comprensión como espacio para la política.Maria del Rosario Acosta - 2006 - 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 (...)
  6. Gadamer . - L'art de comprendre. [REVIEW]M. Adam - 1983 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 173:60.
  7. Gadamer Without Tears.Joseph Agassi - 1994 - 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 (...)
  8. Sobre la situación dialéctico-dialógica entre platón Y Gadamer.Enrique de Jesús Aguilar Prado - 2013 - Revista de filosofía (Chile) 69:21-37.
    El presente trabajo argumenta la semejanza del papel dialógico entre Platón y Hans-Georg Gadamer como punto fundante de la actividad del filósofo y como punto de desencuentro entre la dialéctica y la retórica antigua, y entre la dialéctica y la hermenéutica contemporánea. Al contrario, se analiza su diferencia para exponer el papel anticrítico de la dialéctica que caracteriza la obra de Verdad y Método y reafirma la función enunciativa de la texné en relación con la situación dialogal entre el lector (...)
  9. Raison Critique Ou Raison Herméneutique? Une Analyse de la Controverse Entre Habermas Et Gadamer.José Ma Aguirre - 1998
  10. Critical Reason or Hermeneutic Reason+ Examining the Controversy Between Habermas and Gadamer.Jm Aguirreoraa - 1993 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 91 (91):409-440.
  11. A Gadamerian Critique of Kuhn's Linguistic Turn: Incommensurability Revisited.Amani Albedah - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (3):323 – 345.
    In this article, I discuss Gadamer's hermeneutic account of understanding as an alternative to Kuhn's incommensurability thesis. After a brief account of Kuhn's aesthetic account and arguments against it, I argue that the linguistic account faces a paradox that results from Kuhn's objectivist account of understanding, and his lack of historical reflexivity. The statement 'Languages are incommensurable' is not a unique view of language, and is thus subject to contest by incommensurable readings. Resolving the paradox requires an account of incommensurability (...)
  12. El lenguaje en la hermenéutica filosófica de Gadamer.Edgardo Albizu - 1978 - Escritos de Filosofía 1 (1):79.
  13. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Hermeneutics, Religion, and Ethics.Christopher Albrecht - 2001 - Review of Metaphysics 55 (2):393-395.
  14. Real Knowing: New Versions of the Coherence Theory.Linda Alcoff - 1996 - Cornell University Press.
    In provocative readings of major figures in the continental tradition, Alcoff shows that the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Michel Foucault can help rectify key ...
  15. Gadamer's Feminist Epistemology.Linda Martín Alcoff - 2003 - In Lorraine Code (ed.), Feminist Interpretations of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Pennsylvania State University Press.
  16. New Versions of the Coherence Theory: Gadamer, Davidson, Foucault, and Putnam.Linda Sharon Alcoff - 1988 - Dissertation, Brown University
    This thesis explores four contemporary accounts of knowledge and understanding that highlight the importance of coherence as a major factor in justification, as a criterion of truth, and, in some cases, as a definition and ontology of truth. It seeks to explicate how these accounts advance the debate over coherentist epistemology by, principally, offering a new ontology of truth which demonstrates why coherence, if used as the criterion of truth, is a reliable means of achieving truth. ;Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics (...)
  17. Escatología, hermeneútica y lenguaje.Juan José Alfaro - 1980 - Salmanticensis 27 (2):233-246.
  18. Gadamer’s Critical Views of Husserl. Alireza - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 9 (16):23-42.
    usserl, besides Dilthey and Heidegger, is one of the most important philosophers who had big influence on Gadamer and is the philosopher who is frequently referred to in his works. Gadamer’s encounter with Husserl, in spite of his greatness in the eyes of Gadamer, was always a hermeneutical one. Considering and criticizing Husselr’s phenomenology, Gadamer tries to discover his unspoken thoughts. Few scholars have even considered Gadamer and Husserl’s relationships, which among them much more are people who tried to trace (...)
  19. LEISEGANG, HANS. "Denkformen". [REVIEW]Rudolf Allers - 1951 - Modern Schoolman 29:254.
  20. La praxis de la hermenéutica filosofica segun HG Gadamer in Sobre hermenéutica.J. M. Almarza-Menica - 1985 - Estudios Filosóficos 34 (95).
  21. Dieter Misgeld and Graeme Nicholson, Eds., Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1992 - Philosophy in Review 12 (5):342-344.
  22. Kathleen Wright, Ed., Festivals of Interpretation. Essays on Hans-Georg Gadamer's Work Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1991 - Philosophy in Review 11 (6):439-440.
  23. Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays Reviewed By.Patricia Altenbernd Johnson - 1988 - Philosophy in Review 8 (5):166-168.
  24. Gadamer, l'Europa e la filosofia.Lluis Àlvarez - 2000 - Iride: Filosofia e Discussione Pubblica 13 (2):295-304.
  25. Gadamer's Century: Essays in Honor of Hans-Georg Gadamer.Joshua Amaru - 2003 - Common Knowledge 9 (3):545-546.
  26. Marxist Critique and Philosophical Hermeneutics.Peter Amato - 2006 - 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 (...)
  27. Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1995 - Review of Metaphysics 49 (1):134-135.
  28. Gadamer and Aristotle.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1988 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 62:174-182.
  29. Gadamer.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1987 - The Owl of Minerva 19 (1):23-40.
  30. Gadamer, Plato, and the Discipline of Dialogue.Francis J. Ambrosio - 1987 - International Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1):17-32.
  31. Dawn and Dusk: Gadamer and Heidegger on Truth. [REVIEW]Francis J. Ambrosio - 1986 - Man and World 19 (1):21-53.
    Understanding certainly does not mean merely the taking over of traditional opinion or the acknowledgment of what has been enshrined by tradition. Heidegger, who had first identified the concept of understanding as a universal determination of Dasein, means thereby precisely the character of understanding as project, which is really to say, Dasein in its orientation toward its own future. At the same time, I do not wish to deny that I for my part have emphasized within the universal matrix of (...)
  32. Truth and Creativity the Meaning of 'Die Virtualitat des Sprechens' in H. G. Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics.Francis John Ambrosio - 1982 - Dissertation, Fordham University
    The goal of this study is to investigate the meaning and significance of the concept of die Virtualitat des Sprechens as it functions in the thought of H. G. Gadamer. The primary thesis proposed is that the success of Gadamer's enterprise in Wahrheit und Methode of providing a corrective to misunderstandings about the experience of understanding and the event of truth arising out of a model based on the ideal of scientific objectivity, depends on his ability to display how the (...)
  33. Interpretation Und Wahrheit.Emil Angehrn & Bernard Baertschi - 1998
  34. Heidegger and Gadamer.Emilia Angelova - 2013 - In Francois Raffoul & Eric S. Nelson (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 165.
  35. 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.
  36. Hermeneutische Positionen Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer.Heinrich Anz & Hendrik Birus - 1982
  37. 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.
  38. Theorie-Diskussion Hermeneutik Und Ideologiekritik.Karl-Otto Apel - 1971 - Suhrkamp.
  39. Rezension zu: H.-G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, Tübingen 1960.Karl-Otto Apel - 1963 - Hegel-Studien 2:314-322.
  40. (Mis)Appropriations of Gadamer in Qualitative Research: A Husserlian Critique (Part 1).Marc H. Applebaum - 2011 - 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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