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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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8. Hermeneutics and Historicism

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We understand historicism as an idea in reaction to the Enlightenment philosophy of history, particularly to Hegel. Historicism puts into contrast Hegel’s idea of the sole and all-comprising meaning of historical develop- ment and the uniqueness of a human’s life and actions. He contrasts particularity of partial events in life with great stories. His opposition to an idea of great historical relations led in the course of time to the methodological fusion with positivism and to resignation that lead to a simple description of facts. In this context, we speak of the emergence of historical consciousness that resulted from a  conviction that each individual historical phe- nomenon can be understood only in the context of its own time. It is an obvious connection with a so-called hermeneutic circle: the achieved truth is always histori- cally or subjectively conditioned, it is relative. We can- 50 not get off the hermeneutic circle of historicity to the benefi t of truth!   The 19th century was not only a period of Romanticism but also a period of technological revolution, an age of triumph of science, and consequent optimism. Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 – 1911), a  German psychologist, philoso- pher, and representative of a  so-called philosophy of life with a  lively interest in hermeneutics, entered the history of philosophical hermeneutics in the second half of the 19th century. The following texts of his are worth noting Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften. Ver- such einer Grundlegung für das Studium der Gesellschaft und Geschichte (Introduction to Humanist Sciences. An...

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