Hermeneutical Philosophy - History, Philosophy and...

Hermeneutical Philosophy

Hermeneutics is another important direction of modern philosophy. The subject of its fundamental interest is mutual understanding between people. This question is relevant for any science, including physics. Therefore it makes sense to trace the ways of its problematization with hermeneutics.

The origins of hermeneutics date back to antiquity, in particular, to Socrates' dialogues. In the science of hermeneutics was introduced at the end of the XIX century. German philosopher V. Dilthey. He pursued a persistent search for a scientific method for the humanities. Dilthey believed that nature is explained, but people understand. But how to understand another person? Through empathy. You have to put yourself in the place of another person. Dilthey did not consider the conceptual structure of the sciences in detail.

In the XX century. Hermeneutic philosophy was given a fundamentally different turn, the emphasis was now made not on consciousness, but in language. The very same language was interpreted as a form of activity. Understanding, insisted M. Heidegger, is committed in the language. Who believes that understanding is due to consciousness, he is in the forefront of psychology. H.-G. Gadamer, developing the ideas of Heidegger, began to argue that for understanding each other's people, a common cause is required. A decisive understanding is facilitated by the dialectic of questions and answers.

Gadamer's hermeneutics was harshly criticized by Habermas. He believes that it does not put an end to ideological distortions. They can be avoided only if the dialogue of people is realized as a mature discourse, and it leads to an ethic of responsibility. Below, the author gives two main principles of critical hermeneutics by J. Habermas.

Discourse should be guided by the principle of universality ( U ): "Each significant norm must satisfy the condition that consequences and side effects, if this controversial rule is universally observed in the interests of everyone, can be adopted without any or coercion. "

Along with the principle of universality, the discourse-ethical principle (D) should be used: "Norms are only significant when they are approved (or can be approved) by all those affected as participants in a particular practical discourse."

Hermeneutics usually relate exclusively to the humanities. The question of its relevance to physics is debatable. But is physics really to be excluded from the hermeneutic project?

Physicist Yu. I. Kulakov uses the term "hermeneutic physics". Noting that hermeneutics is the highest form of knowledge, it gives the following definition: "Physical hermeneutics is a form of knowledge based on revealing the essence and meaning hidden behind obvious phenomena."

Alas, in this case, hermeneutics is understood as an in-depth understanding of physics, and irrespective of hermeneutic philosophy. The author is interested in correlation with the physics of hermeneutic philosophy.

The 206th volume of the Boston Studies in the field of philosophy of science was devoted to the connection between hermeneutics and science. This connection was recognized, but before its detailed analysis, the matter never came to pass. All articles of the above collection resemble protocols of intentions, nothing more.

P. Chris notes that researchers who seek to substantiate the need for a hermeneutical approach in science use three ideas:

1) the priority of the meaning over the technique (read: over instrumentalism. - Note auth.)

2) the priority of the practical over the theoretical;

3) priority of situational analysis over abstract formulations.

All these three preferences are of considerable interest to physicists. It is absurd not only to accuse, but even suspect, physicists in the absence of proper interest in the meaning, practice and situational analysis.

According to the author, the value of hermeneutics for physics is in the emphasis on the communicative mind. One mind is good, two is better. Physics is the result of not the separate efforts of individual researchers, but of collective creativity. From this point of view, physics necessarily has a discursive character. Y. Habermas is right: discourse must be mature. But, unfortunately, hermeneutics do not pay enough attention to its conceptual content. Mature discourse involves the use of highly developed conceptual tools. The second shortcoming of Habermas's position is his belief, not without naivety, in the possibility of achieving broad agreement, consensus. Consensus in physics is realized in various forms, and they are always supplemented by forms of dissolution. Striving for perfection, physics is useful to navigate in the cobwebs of consensus and dissent. The main hermeneutic lesson is that physics is not a collection of monologues of geniuses, but a discourse aimed at ensuring the growth of scientific knowledge. To date, the discursive side of physics exists in an intuitive shell. The hermeneutic quest is able to facilitate liberation from it.

The priority of language over mentality is protected by hermeneutics. This choice is quite natural: the collective consciousness is realized in the space of language, not of mentality. Unlike mentals, language phenomena are not intimate, but are generally valid.


1. Hermeneutics is relevant for understanding physics.

2. Physics is a discourse for the sake of ensuring its development.

3. It acts as a product of collective creativity.

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