Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ordo Interpretatio

The notable (big gun) harbingers of general hermeneutics[1] such as Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Friedrich Schleiermacher (all of whom, incidentally, have been labeled at one time or another “the father of hermeneutics”) all subscribe to a certain “order” of interpretation. These men, in contradiction with the likes of Rene Decartes who summarily indicate reality is fundamentally in the mind, held that reality was indeed “out there” to be discovered. Dilthey, as an exemplar of these hermeneutic harbingers, proposed that reality is discoverable through “reflective awareness” and that this process occurs in “lived in experience,” (Dilthey, 1954). Note carefully the perceptive order: a) reality is “out there;” b) to be interpreted via “reflective awareness;” c) which finds its basis in story (“lived in experience).”

[1] General hermeneutics (also referred to as ontological, philosophical, or universal hermeneutics) refers to the interpretation of all life experiences, not merely the interpretation of texts. For an understanding of this concept and its historical roots, see Jean Grondin, Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) and Michael N. Forster’s (University of Chicago) article on hermeneutics: http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/files/forster/HERM.pdf

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