Sunday, May 15, 2011

Doubt starts with seriousness

The art of understanding a tradition, holy books, or great literary masterpieces, requires not only that you know the sentences, but also to take them further in a productive way. To connect with and understand a tradition is no easy matter. It is required that you go back to the primary source, create a historical picture of what has been and set it on a new basis. This isthe deepest meaning of hermeneutics .

Just to describe an internal structure and coherence of a given text, or just to duplicate what the author says, does not mean that the text is understood. One must be familiar with what the text is about. The main problem is understanding about the substantive relationship between what the text says and how we understand it. This can be done "scientifically" by that removing all subjectivity, creating a basis for verification, and having full control over the interpretation process and outcome. There was been written over the centuries many large volumes on how to do this. This has been and remains an important discussion when, for example, how to translate The Bible into different languages. Is the text to be translated objectively, word for word, from Aramaic into other languages, or should it be taken into account the time and culture we live in? For the Inuit in Greenland, for example, offering seals provide greater meaning than the biblical phrase offering lamb. This discussion about understand a text is also a daily matter in the courtroom. Defender and prosecutor in the same case will be able to interpret legal texts very differently, and the judge would probably conclude with a third understanding. The judge's understanding can be appealed to several higher courts who light change the understanding. Sometimes, this interpretation process could be the way to the Supreme Court. Here, the judges could give a different understanding than all the previous judges have concluded with, and provide guidance for future understandings of the legal text of the judiciary. The decisions of the Supreme Court will still be able to create great discussions in the community.

Only when our whole culture was subjected to radical doubt and criticism, did hermeneutics have a renewed and universal significance. This doubt began with
Nietzsche in the latter half of the 1800s, and his understand of Seriousness, and meant that we need to doubt a lot deeper than what Descartes recommended. Nietzsche said, among other things, that we must doubt the illusions our selfconscienceness ane idols of selfknowledge. This seriousness characterizes also Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard and Ibsen, who lived at the same time as Nietzsche. The Norwegian author Dag Solstad writes in the book Kierkegaard, Ibsen and the modern, "That which connects Kierkegaard and Ibsen is Seriousness. A very special seriousness, which managed to break out of its own time, and at least to us who live now. A seriousness which is associated with the highest intellectual achievements that were committed in the 1800s, and which differs from the ultimate achievements in the 1700s and 1900s, ... And yes, please include the seriousness in Friedrich Nietzsche and Dostoevsky's writings also . I think I'll stop there "(p.35).

No comments:

Post a Comment