The Multidimensionality of Hermeneutic Phenomenology

Volume 70 of the series Contributions to Phenomenology pp 359-385


The Hermeneutics of God, the Universe, and Everything

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Hermeneutic interpretation entered modern thought as a means of clarifying and resolving apparent incoherencies and contradictions within the scriptures, its potential for determining the meanings of legal, classical, and other texts being soon recognized, and even extended to the discernment of the meanings of plays, paintings, and other artistic and cultural artifacts and performances. And while some argued such meanings were to be ascertained by interpreting them within the contexts in which they appeared, others maintaining that artists’ or authors’ intentions were ultimately authoritative, were forced to concede that these too could only be interpretively derived, often in similar manner. Moreover conflicting interpretations suggest that the concepts which shape our “perceptions” of such matters are relative, while Gestalt psychologists and Ames and his school empirically demonstrated that even our most basic empirical perceptions are interpretations shaped by our pre-conceptions; an insight which clearly undermines the objectivistic pretensions of the natural sciences. The paper concludes, along with Heidegger, that hermeneutic interpretation is central to all epistemological understanding, as indeed it is to our very existence or being as humans.