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Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics


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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5. Hermeneutics and Protestantism


Approaching the end of the Middle Ages, we have to men- tion the real hermeneutic revolution which was caused by Protestantism. A  radical diversion from a  tradition and an exclusive tendency to Scripture in how Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) realised it brought fundamental hermeneutic consequences. A principle “sola scripture” (only Scripture) and a  conviction that Scripture is “sui ipsius interpres” (its own interpretative key) became the inverse hermeneutic principles of early Protestantism. Postulating of these convictions presupposed a  certain renewal of the patristic thinking, for which Scripture was in the fi rst place, and of the conviction concern- ing its fundamental intelligibility. Luther, as a  profes- sor of Biblical exegesis, refused allegoric interpretation and claims that if a reader understands a text correctly it uncovers its own meaning to a  reader. The reader’s 28 understanding is the realisation of Scripture itself. Interpretation of Scripture is its application in practice. Here comes the renewal of understanding of sensus liter- alis (literary meaning). After a short time, an eff ort to clarify the more unin- telligible passages by clearer parallel or exclusive urging on the language competence of a reader was not enough for Protestantism. It can be said that a principal weak- ness of Protestant hermeneutics was its absence. So the non-contradictoriness of the tradition and Scripture and their mutual support without detriment to its pri- macy was naturally confi rmed at the Council of Trent in 1546.   Shortly after that Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520 – 1575) writes, within the scope of Protestantism,...

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