Discipline: Philosophy

Literally, the study of interpretation.

The term was originally associated with biblical studies, but a philosophical tendency has been developed especially by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002).

Dilthey emphasized the need in human studies (Geisteswissenschaften) for an empathetic understanding (usually called by the German term, Verstehen) which went beyond mere external description. (Compare also the philosophy of Giovanni Vico (1668-1744).

Gadamer has emphasized the way interpretation develops gradually by an interplay between the interpreter and the subject-matter, denying both that there is a single objectively correct interpretation and that we can never get beyond our own initial interpretation.

H G Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics (1976)


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