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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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9. 20th Century Hermeneutic Thinking

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Another distinguished turning point in philosophical hermeneutics is the work of Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938). One of his basic interests was the rehabilitation of the so-called natural world of human life and criticism of natural sciences. He manifested it in a  treatise Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzen- dentale Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänome- nologische Philosophie (The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy) from 1936. The importance of Husserl’s transcendental phenom- enology for the analysis of comprehension is far-reach- ing. But it is not necessary to deal with the analysis of his Logische Unterschungen (Logical Investigations) from the years 1900 – 1901 where he, inspired by Dilthey, analy- ses experience (Erlebnisse) as pure experience, which is 54 in the form of the so-called viewing of substances of the object examined (Wessensschau). He understands com- prehension (Verständnis) as an act of experience. We are rather going to focus on two topics that proved to be very signifi cant for philosophical hermeneutics. In the work Kartesianische Meditationen (Cartesian Meditations) from 1931, he links the problematics of the comprehension that is achieved with the problematics of the constitution and intersubjectivity of the world. A  human is, according to Husserl, able to understand otherness due to an ability to fi nd analogies between his own and someone else’s experience, between his own and someone else’s spiritual life. These are the pro- cesses of the empathising comprehending character. In the fi fth meditation, it is...

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