Hegel and Hermeneutics

In G.W.F. Hegel: Key Concepts. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 208-221 (2014)
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Understood in its widest sense, the term “hermeneutics” can be taken to refer to the theory and/or practice of any interpretation aimed at uncovering the meaning of any expression, regardless of whether such expression was produced by a human or non-human source. Understood in a narrower sense, the term “hermeneutics” can be taken to refer to a particular stream of thought regarding the theory and/or practice of interpretation, developed mainly by German-speaking theorists from the late eighteenth through to the late twentieth century. “Hermeneutics” in its broadest sense dates at least as far back as the ancient Greeks and is linked etymologically to the ancient Greeks’ mythological deity Hermes, who was said to deliver and interpret messages from the gods to mortals. “Hermeneutics” in its narrower sense emerged in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, initially for the purpose of addressing problems in the interpretation of classical and biblical tests and then later for the purpose of articulating a more “universalized” theory of interpretation of general. This chapter traces the development of hermeneutics in its narrow sense through the work of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), and then concludes with some observations about what Hegel’s own hermeneutical thought might mean against the backdrop of this development.
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