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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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4. Medieval Hermeneutic Thinking


We think that it is pertinent to mention an important yet mysterious author of the early Middle ages Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, probably a Syrian contemporary of Boethius. His influence on the medieval thinking was bigger than that of Augustine.

Dionysius’ entire work can be comprehended as an effort to correct the reason by means of mystery or by self-assessment of the reason itself. A special exploration of language possibilities in the treatise Peri theión onomatón or in Latin De divinis nominibus (The Divine Names) can be seen as a contribution to the history of hermeneutics. He explores there to what extent God’s beingness can or cannot be articulated by the final reason, the concepts of which are derived from the contingent empirical experience. Dionysius understands the freeing from the sensuality as a necessary condition of ← 21 | 22 → understanding the supersensible. A biblical picture of Moses’ ascent on mount Sinai is a reflection of this raising of cognitive abilities of a human.

It is pertinent that Dionysus’ negative theology can be justifiably understood not only as a deconstruction of the literal level of language but also as the unliteral allegoric and hidden meaning. Negation of the negation itself, which is raising towards the utmost possibilities of language and understanding, results in silence and paradoxically postulates again a need of hermeneutics but from the reverse side. An interesting figure colourising the history of hermeneutics is a Renaissance Paris scholar of the high Middle Ages,...

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