Hermeneutics and Interpretation in 20th Century Philosophy

Hermeneutics and Interpretation in 20th Century Philosophy

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

One of the important currents of 20th century philosophy is hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is the interpretation of the meaning of the products and structures created by human words and actions. Hermeneutics emerged in monotheistic religions, especially in the form of interpretation of holy texts or understanding the words and behaviors of the prophet, and over time, it has been applied in all texts.

Dilthey is an important founding philosopher of hermeneutics and primarily makes a distinction between natural and spiritual sciences. Natural sciences are external, spiritual sciences are human, that is, internal knowledge. History is at the forefront of the spiritual sciences. Dilthey argues that every lived period has its own spirituality and this spirituality creates unique meanings in language. In order to understand a historical period or a historical event, it is necessary to look at the meanings attributed to the language by the spiritual structure of that period.

Hermeneutics has turned into a truly philosophical movement as a result of Gadamer’s broad and systematic thoughts on meaning and interpretation. Gadamer saw hermeneutics as a search for truth rather than a method. Gadamer says that hermeneutics is necessary for a person to finally understand another person and himself, and that it functions as a bridge. Understanding is the greatest ability of human existence. Understanding is the reproduction of produced knowledge.

According to Gadamer, man necessarily exists with his prejudices. Prejudice is a necessary condition for human understanding. While prejudices provide a kind of foreknowledge, they also show the limit that human perspective can reach. Gadamer explains understanding with what he calls the fusion of horizons. The horizon of the person provided by foreknowledge merges with the horizon of the thing he or she intends to understand, and meaning emerges. The fusion of horizons can be in the form of understanding a person’s words or interpreting a text through the relationship of language and meaning.


– What is Gadamer and philosophical hermeneutics?

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook