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The foundations of philosophical hermeneutics were laid by the German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834).

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The ideas of metaphysics are actively covered on the pages of peer-reviewed scientific and philosophical journals and religious press published on all five continents. The idealistic picture of the world is considered in the framework of TV shows, documentaries and videos shown on scientific and educational channels.

Various problems of hermeneutics were also developed by German philosophers Wilhelm Dilthey, Karl Otto Apel, Rudolf Bultmann, Jürgen Habermas, French philosopher Paul Riker, Austrian religious philosopher and theologian Emerich Koreth and others.

Recognizing the existence of “special” hermeneutics: philological, theological, legal, Schleiermacher asked himself the question: what condition of understanding is necessary?

Such a condition, in his opinion, is the similarity and difference between the author of the text and the reader. If the author and the reader are absolutely “related”, then hermeneutics is superfluous, if they are completely different, hermeneutics is impossible. Thus, in order for the understanding to be possible, a certain measure of “alienness” and “kinship” between the author and the reader is necessary.

There are two methods of understanding: grammatical and psychological. The grammatical method reveals the understanding based on the “spirit of speech” as connected and conditioned by this spirit. Psychological understanding reveals understanding based on the “soul of the speaker” as his unique peculiar way of thinking and feeling. Understanding consists in penetrating, on the one hand, into the “spirit of the language”, and, on the other, into the “soul of the author”. Grammatical and psychological methods are inextricably linked.

Understanding, according to Schleiermacher, can be considered successful when the positions of the author and the reader are “balanced”. The reader must compare with the author both in knowledge of the language (objective side) and in knowledge of the inner life of the author (subjective side).

The object of research in hermeneutics is most often the text. The main problem is the understanding and interpretation of the text. The main question of hermeneutics has at least two versions of the formulation: epistemological (what is the possible understanding?) and ontological (how is that being, the essence of which is observed in understanding, arranged?).

The fundamental concepts in hermeneutics are the concepts of the hermeneutic triangle and the hermeneutic circle. Through the first, the complex relationship between the author of the text, the text itself and the reader, the interpreter of the text, is clarified. The concept of the hermeneutic circle expresses the peculiarity of the process of understanding associated with its cyclical nature.

The ontological character of the hermeneutic circle, expressing the specific boundary of the process of cognition, is the starting point of hermeneutics as a philosophical trend. This idea is central to the teachings of the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. He does not reduce hermeneutics to the development of a methodology for understanding texts, but defines it as a philosophy of understanding. The subject of understanding, according to Gadamer, is not the meaning embedded in the text by the author, but the subject content, with the understanding of which this text is associated. According to Gadamer, hermeneutics is a philosophy of “interpretation”: from the interpretation of texts to the interpretation of human existence, knowledge about the world and being in it.

Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) a German philosopher who concentrated his work in the fields of phenomenology and hermeneutics. One of the founders of hermeneutics and modern linguistic philosophy. 

Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900 – 2002) was a German philosopher, one of the most important thinkers of the second half of the XX century, known primarily as the founder of “philosophical hermeneutics”.

Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) was a German cultural historian and idealist philosopher, a representative of the philosophy of life, a literary critic, who first introduced the concepts of the sciences of the spirit, which had a significant impact on both modern historical sciences in Germany (Heinrich Rickert, Wilhelm Spranger and others) and literary studies (Rudolf Unger, Oscar Walzel, Friedrich Gundolf and others).

Paul Ricoeur (1913 -2005) was a French philosopher, along with Heidegger and Gadamer, one of the leading representatives of philosophical hermeneutics, a new branch of philosophy that was rooted in phenomenology.

Karl Otto Apel (1922 – 1917) was a German philosopher, together with Habermas, the founder of the communicative paradigm in philosophy.

Apel’s philosophical views were formed on the basis of American pragmatism, German hermeneutics and the controversy with Habermas. He introduced the concept of transcendental pragmatics, “ontic reduction” (when an entity is defined through another entity). He asserted the primacy of dialogue (intersubjectivity of communication) over individual consciousness. Apel considers the basis of this dialogue to be a language understandable by analogy with Kant’s categories of consciousness. The basis of the language for Apel is paradigmatic evidence.


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