Hermeneutic Ontology

  • Daniel O. Dahlstrom


The following paper is an attempt to draft an outline of the meaning and aim of a hermeneutical ontology, based upon a critical appropriation of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology. In the first part of this paper I sketch aspects of Husserl’s phenomenological ontology insofar as it forms a central historical presupposition of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology. In the second part I review Heidegger’s criticisms of Husserl’s project and present the basic contours of the hermeneutical phenomenology that Heidegger regards as the method proper to a fundamental ontology. In the third and final part, drawing on Heidegger’s hermeneutics and plan of a fundamental ontology, I sketch the project of hermeneutic ontology, conceived as, at once, an ontology of interpretation and an interpretation of ontology – where the historical character of both interpretation and ontology underlies their mutual entailment. Hermeneutic ontology, so conceived, is a fundamental ontology inasmuch as every ontology is an interpretation and hermeneutic ontology interprets interpretation’s distinctive manner of being. However, hermeneutic ontology, while fundamental in this sense, far from ruling out ontological pluralism, supposes the relative autonomy of ontological investigations distinct from it. Interpretation, after all, is only one manner of being among others, even though the determination of the latter remains a matter of interpretation. In conclusion I indicate basic parallels with Gadamer’s ‘hermeneutical ontology’ and the distinctive role he assigns to language in elaborating the notion.


Human Existence Formal Ontology Historical Character Fundamental Ontology Hermeneutic Phenomenology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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