The History of Hermeneutics and the Hermeneutics of History -web Lecture

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Zoom seminar [zoom-link pass: 038339] 16:00-18:00 (UTC+2) which is 15:00-17:00 CET

Dr. Katherina Kinzel (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) discusses "The History of Hermeneutics and the Hermeneutics of History"



In this talk I explore the relevance of hermeneutics for the study of history. This task, however, itself presupposes an exercise in historical hermeneutics: how the history of hermeneutics is told matters for what it is taken to be, what its essential claims consist in, and what questions and problems it answers to. I thus precede my analysis by reconstructing the shifts and continuities in the concept of understanding (Verstehen) from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, focusing on the hermeneutic contributions of four authors: Herder, Schleiermacher, Droysen, and Dilthey.  I identify the philosophical presuppositions that made it plausible to conceptualize “understanding” as a fundamental epistemological problem in the study of history. On the basis of my historical reconstruction, I seek to arrive at an assessment of the disagreement between Dilthey and Gadamer. In particular, should hermeneutics be conceived as an “epistemological” or an “ontological” programme? I argue that the investigation into the interpreter’s historicity and situatedness, and the question as to whether this situatedness is an enabling condition or a constraint for historical knowledge, remains a central concern, and that it can be adequately addressed within the epistemological programme in hermeneutics.

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Last updated: 21.1.2021