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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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2. Hermeneutics as a Term

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92. Hermeneutics as a Term   The term hermeneutics refers to the Greek verb herme- neuein that is translated as “interpret.” The Greek hermeios is a  related expression which refers to a priest in a Del- phian oracle and primarily to the name Hermes itself, who was a  messenger of gods in Greek mythology. The verb hermeneuein can be found in the fi rst interpreters of Hom- er’s Iliad and Odyssey Pindar and Aeschylus but also in Plato’s dialogues Kratylus, Epinomis, or Ión. Also Aristotle named one of his propaedeutic treatises Peri herméneias. Hermes in Greek mythology was not only a  god of traders and thieves but also a god of discourse and com- munication; he was assigned the invention of tools that help understand, preserve, and transfer a  meaning – speech and writing. Hermes interpreted into human lan- guage what was beyond language. He adapted the divine to a form acceptable for humane intelligence. 10 The meaning contained in the verb hermeneuein can be expressed as “to say,” “to express,” “to interpret,” “to me - diate” which means “to cause understanding,” “to make something understandable,” or “to bring to understand- ing.”    

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