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Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

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Ladislav Tkáčik

To be confronted with a text can lead us to open our own living world, to its expansion and saturation with something new or even with something else, something unpredictable. What then makes a human a human? Can philosophical hermeneutics say anything about that? It can! «Language is the real centre of a human being… The human is a real, as Aristotle used to say, being who has language» (Hans-Georg Gadamer). What makes a human a human is the fact that internal reflection is performed behind his voice. This is the most original topic of philosophical hermeneutics.

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1. Preface

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  Jan Greisch talks about today as a  hermeneutic age of reason (Comp.: Rozumět a interpretovat. Praha: FÚ AV ČR, 1995). What does he mean by that? What once seemed to be provincial and marginal, acquired in philosophical hermeneutics of the 19th century a  form of analysis of transcendental conditions of possibility of understand- ing and today it is a matter of course to accept the inter- pretativeness of the thinking itself. Peter Szondi points out that hermeneutics must not be reconciled with being only a strange application of a general theory. Philosoph- ical hermeneutics deals with “dialectics” of uniqueness and universality. We live in a period that invented the universality of the problem of understanding and inter- pretation and is trying to defi ne measuredly the form of understanding of the reason itself. Otto Pöggler calls it hermeneutic philosophy. Without exaggeration we can 8say about the whole of philosophy that it needs to be hermeneutic. We believe that this exciting journey, which stretches across philosophy in history from instrumental under- standing of hermeneutics as a methodological reference tool connected with the understanding of texts through development stages up to the acknowledgment of her- meneutics as a fundamental characteristic of philosoph- ical thinking in general, cannot be left aside if we do not want to infl ict injury to a reader studying the basics of humanist culture.    

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