Monday, May 16, 2011

Interpretation demands self-awareness

Interpreting does not explain the "real" meaning of a text, but goes behind the obvious phenomena that can be observed. Hermeneutics is not primarily concerned about answering a research question, but seeks to go behind the question. This requires having a relationship with ourselves. We must be conscious of ourselves when we interpret because who we are affect our interpretations. This in turn requires a new understanding of the self because self-understanding means everything and nothing in today's society.

Although understanding is in many ways a popular word used in politics, literature, and social debate. It was Fichte who gave the term a renewed understanding in his great work about science in the 1700s. He believed that one must demand consequences of the thinker/researcher. It is only through radical consequences that they develop their thoughts, and to reach a true sense of self, one must use philosophy, The Philosophy of Science. In Fichte's view it is neccesarry to be in accordance with his own thinking, in spontaneity with ones self-awareness. Fichte's work on science is about understanding everything in the world based on one's own self-consciousness.

The new insights we have gained through science in recent centuries, gives no or little opportunity to apply this principle, because we need a revision of our self-understanding. Understanding may no longer be linked to a complete X-ray of who we are, understood as a complete presence for ourselves. Although comprehension is something that's "always already" on the way, it is in a way impossible to understand the self completely. This fundamental doubt about who we are, the legitimacy of ones self, is important to bear in mind in order to understand the task and the limits of hermeneutics.

A complete final interpretation is a contradiction in itself. Interpretation is, as self-awareness, always on the road - in movement. Hermeneutics was formerly a more scientific and artistic (Greek: TECHNE) subjects, a special area where you could use a technic to overcome difficult texts. One could understand hermeneutics as an art of interpretation - but this is no longer so.

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