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What is HERMENEUTICS and most important characteristics

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What is and characteristics of hermeneutics

In this lesson from a TEACHER we will talk about hermeneutics or art of interpreting and understanding texts rationally. A method whose objective is to find the true meaning of the texts (religious, historical, philosophical, legal ...) and give us the tools to understand the text beyond its meaning literal.

Likewise, hermeneutics has become one of the most popular forms of research and interpretation in history: Since the S. IV a. C. with Evémero (330-250 a. C.), until today with figures such as Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Marcel Eliade (1907-1986), Hans- Georg Gadame (1900-2002), Paul Ricoeur (1903-2005), Joseph Kockelmans (1926) or Max Van Manen (1942). Linked to history, social anthropology and philosophy.

Pay attention because we are going to explain what is hermeneutics and its characteristics.

The hermeneutics is defined as the art of interpret and understand texts in all their dimensions, that is, its objective is to go beyond the literal meaning and try to understand its true meaning

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: its allegorical-symbolic meaning, the motivation and thesis of the author, the discourse behind the writing and the historical-social context in which it takes place. Therefore, with hermeneutics, tries to answer a whole series of questions that a text provokes us when we read and invites us to reflect on it.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that the very word hermeneutics already tells us what it is and what it is for. This term comes from the Greek word hermeneutique, which means art of interpreting or explaining and in whose root we found the name of the greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods and the only divinity capable of unraveling hidden meanings.

The first time this word is mentioned is in the work Organun from Aristotle (384-382 a. C.) and the first person to make use of hermeneutics is from Evémero (330-250 a. C.), who first tried to interpret mythological texts. However, this method began to become more popular in the Christian sphere with figures of Philo of Alexandria (S.I d. C.) and Saint Augustine of Hippo (S.IV d. C.), within the framework of Christological debates (between the school of Antioch and the school of Alexandria) and whose objective was to come to understand the true meaning of the Holy Scriptures (exegesis).

In the 19th century, during the Romanticism and from the hand of the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), hermeneutics was became an autonomous discipline who sought to interpret the texts through two basic principles:

  1. The contextual ones: the text has to be related to the linguistic and historical context in which it is created.
  2. The psychological ones: the text has to be related to the psychology, thought and motivation of the author.

Later, the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) in his work Being and time define "The hermeneutical circle" as a method to reconstruct and interpret all kinds of texts (not just religious ones).

Finally, hermeneutics was defined and developed with authors such as Friedrich Nietzsch (1884-1900), Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Marcel Eliade (1907-1986), Hans- Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), Paul Ricoeur (1903-2005), Joseph Kockelmans (1926) or Max Van Manen (1942). Giving rise to a method that allows us to interpret texts from the legal field, philosophy, history, anthropology and theology.

What is and characteristics of hermeneutics - What is hermeneutics?

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Due to its development and its extension to various disciplines of the Social Sciences, we can distinguish various types of hermeneutics. Among which stand:

  1. Biblical hermeneutics or exegesis: it was the first that was developed and of vital importance during the first period of Christianity (S.IV d. C.). Its objective is to decipher the message of the Holy Scriptures beyond its literal sense, that is, to unravel the allegories and metaphors of the spiritual message that these texts contain. In this way, for example, when in John 1:14 we are told: "And the divine Word became flesh and dwelt among us," it refers to the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus.
  2. Philosophical hermeneutics: it began to be developed in the 19th century and its main driving force isGadamer. Its objective is to understand and interpret texts holistically, developing a dialogue with the writing itself (ask questions, merge your horizon with that of the author and abandon prejudices). As well as, understand the context in which it has been created, since it is a manifestation of in a culture and language is the medium through which it is transmitted to us.
  3. Legal hermeneutics: It is the interpretation of legal texts from the philosophy of law, that is, it is the analytical and interpretive activity of the law to provide an objective solution to a legal conflict.
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