Foundations of Interpretation – Notes on the first lecture

February 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

This subject is essentially an introduction to hermeneutics. According to the world English dictionary on-line Hermeneutics is:

1) the science of interpretation; especially scripture

2) the branch of theology that deals with the principles and methodology of exegesis

philosophy

3a) the study and interpretation of human behavior and social institutions
b) (in existentialist thought) discussion of the purpose of life

Essentially it is how we understand texts, people, politics and any form of communication. With regards to this particular course, Nietzsche has been mentioned as a key under-pinning character, though his work will not be studied. Interpretation is what we are. It is ontological.

Ontology: Greek origins; “being, that which is”; present participle of the verb “be” and “logia” (science, study, theory). It is the study of the nature of being, existence or reality as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.

There are specific fields of hermeneutics including but not limited to traditional hermeneutics and modern hermeneutics. Traditional hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially in the areas of literature, religion and law (historical, sacred, legal, literary). Modern hermeneutics encompasses everything in the interpretive process including verbal and non-verbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that affect communication, such as presuppositions, pre-understandings, and the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics.

Philosophical hermeneutics refers primarily to the theory of knowledge initiated by Martin Heidegger and developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer, in Truth and Method, and sometimes to the theories of Paul Ricoeur. Hermeneutics was introduced into philosophy primarily by the title of Aristotle’s work “On Interpretation” (in Latin; De Interpretatione)(360BC) It is one of the extant philosophical works in the Western tradition to deal with the relationship between language and logic in a comprehensive, explicit and formal way.

Creative Literature Reference: The Confidence Man (Herman Melville)

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