Hermeneutics and the problem of the "hermeneutic circle" - Philosophy of Science

Hermeneutics and the problem of the "hermeneutic circle"

From what has been said, it follows that the paradigm object of the humanities is text. As M.M. M. Bakhtin: "The text is the primary given [reality] and the starting point of any humanitarian discipline" [1, p. 292]. The text awaits understanding. Therefore, it is not accidental that the question of the methodological specifics of humanitarian cognition turned out to be closely related to hermeneutics. The origin of this concept is explained by the name of the ancient Greek god Hermes, who served as a mediator between gods and people. He brought people to the will of the gods, for which he had to interpret it and translate it into the people's language. Therefore the term hermeneutics means the theory and methodology of the interpretation of texts. In the Middle Ages, hermeneutics developed as an art of interpreting the meaning of biblical texts. In the era of the Reformation, when the Protestants rejected the exclusive authority of the Pope in interpreting the Holy Scripture, when the Scripture was translated into national languages, it received new impulses for its development.

Hermeneutics turned into an independent discipline thanks to Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who was both a Protestant theologian and a classical philologist (ie an expert in ancient languages). It is not by chance that it was he who set himself the task of constructing a universal methodology of understanding and defined hermeneutics as the "art of understanding", which should "depend only on general principles" [10, p. 42], and not on the nature of the text, whether it is the work of an ancient author or a fragment of Scripture.

According to Schleiermacher, the subject of interpretation is mainly ... texts that are separated from the interpreter by cultural, linguistic, historical and temporal distances [10, p. 42]. The need for a hermeneutic method arises whenever the <?> other culture appears before the researcher, other spiritual-spiritual worlds, because in this case the danger of a misinterpretation is great. The idea of ​​Schleiermacher was that you can protect yourself from such a danger only by entering into a kind of dialogue with the interpreted text. The role of such dialogue is called upon to play the so-called hermeneutic circle. However, the hermeneutic circle as the main problem of hermeneutics began to be spoken after Schleiermacher; he himself called this situation the "imaginary circle", because he saw in him the progressive movement that leads to the achievement of the goal.

Let's look more closely at what this movement represents.

In general, in any text there is something, that is said, and then, as says. The individuality of the author is manifested primarily in the latter. Accordingly, the purpose of understanding the text is precisely this "as", behind which stands the inner world and the intentions of its author, the unique, personal that he introduced into his text.

The method developed by Schleiermacher suggested work on two levels. On the first, the text was interpreted as such. The condition for understanding here was the profound knowledge of the language on which the author of the work and his contemporaries spoke. Understanding the text requires understanding the meanings of all the vocabulary in it. But the meaning of any word depends on the context in which it enters. The task of the interpreter is to understand the whole of the work, but it can do this only by first examining its parts and then collecting the whole from them. But how does he begin his work? Reading the passage of the work and wanting to understand the meaning of this passage, it proceeds from a certain hypothesis regarding the meaning of individual words and expressions in this passage, and this hypothesis is its preliminary understanding, without which he can not do the first step in his research or translation. Reading the next passage of the work, the researcher corrects the preliminary understanding, creating a new, more adequate anticipation of the meaning of the whole. And so it continues throughout his work on the work. Each time there are two points before him: on the one hand, some more or less adequate anticipation of the meaning of the whole and the interpretation, on the basis of this sense, of separate parts, i.e. movement from the whole to its parts; on the other hand, the adjustment of the general meaning, proceeding from the analysis of individual parts, i.e. movement from parts to the whole. As we can see, here there is a circle, called the "hermeneutic circle": the whole is determined through parts, and the latter in turn - through the whole [6, p. 394-395].

However, to fully understand the product, the orbit of this circular motion should be expanded. The text must also be understood as a product of the thoughts and feelings of its author. This requires knowledge of both the external conditions of existence and the inner life of the author of the work. The influence of the totality of these factors on the idea, plot, content and style of the work should be understood. At this level of research, the idea of ​​the interpreter also moves between guessing the author's psychology and investigating the historical facts of his fate, and one is checked, corrected and refined by another.

Only the results of both levels - both semantic and historical-psychological - taken together lead to understanding. Therefore, the results of studies at both levels must be consistent with each other. And this is achieved, again, circular the movement of interpretation from the part to the whole and back, only now is the unity of the author and his text whole, and in parts - the text, the author's intention, the author's biography, his inner life, etc. Understanding of the author's inner life influences the interpretation of the written text, and the interpretation of the text is based on an understanding of the author's inner world.

Thus, the hermeneutical method acts as a reciprocating movement between the preliminary understanding of the whole and the understanding of the part (product or situation) in the course of which the inconsistencies between the two are eliminated.

But is there any guarantee that this movement will come to an end? Schleiermacher believed that full and adequate understanding on this path is quite achievable. True, it assumes that the author of the work and the interpreter are "related souls". Due to this, the interpreter, after all, seems to be reincarnated as the author of the interpreted work. However, such reincarnation occurs only as a result of painstaking hermeneutical work. But, as soon as this work is done, the interpreter can understand the author even better than he understood himself. Thus, hermeneutics is an art that helps to replicate the creative act of the creator of the text. But if in creativity of the creator the unconscious beginning prevailed over the conscious, then in the creativity of the interpreter the conscious must prevail over the unconscious " 16, p. 394]. For example, the author could not understand that he is influenced by circumstances of his environment, and the researcher is aware of this influence.

A significant contribution to the justification of humanitarian knowledge based on hermeneutics was made by Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), a German philosopher and historian of culture. He contrasted the "science of nature" (natural sciences) and science of the spirit & quot ;. These sciences, in his opinion, differ not only in the method, but also in the subject of knowledge. Nature is an object external to man. The study of natural phenomena tends to formulate general laws. With their help, an explanation is given to the phenomena of nature by bringing them to the general laws.

The sciences of the spirit study individual events in their integrity and uniqueness. These sciences are used not only by ordinary rational means, but also by direct experience and based on it understanding and interpretation. We explain nature, says Dilthey, and we understand the spiritual life. And if in the natural sciences knowledge of laws is possible only through measurable and computable, then in the sciences of the spirit, each abstract position should ultimately receive its justification through a connection with the life of the spirit, which can only be revealed in experience and understanding. The sciences of the spirit examine the entire sphere of manifestations of the human spirit - art, philosophy, law, social institutions, economy, languages, religions. You can say that under the spirit of Dilthey understands the culture. He himself says that the spirit is life.

To understand what this means, it must be remembered that Dilthey belonged to the philosophical direction, called the "philosophy of life". Common to the philosophers of life was the belief that life is fundamentally different from matter, as it is described by exact sciences. Life is unpredictable, it can not be placed within the framework of unambiguous causal determinations. Life is wholeness, freedom, development and creativity. At the same time, some philosophers saw life in the sphere of biological phenomena, others, like Dilthey himself, in the work of the human spirit. "Life," says Dilthey, "is an interaction that exists between individuals in certain external conditions, comprehended independently of changes in place and time. I use the expression "life" in the sciences of the spirit only in relation to the human world ... Life consists in the interaction of living beings [8]. Spirit is historical in its very essence, for the spirit is life, and life goes on in time, and therefore all the sciences of the spirit are historical. According to Dilthey, it is possible to comprehend what life is, only by studying the history of [6, p. 396].

The categories that describe life are fundamentally different from the concepts that work in the natural sciences. This, for example, "meaning", "goal," "value," "significance." It is clear that the meaning or significance of an event can not be investigated by the methods of exact experimental natural science; and not because the humanities "have not grown" to their level, but because their subject is different in principle. Such things as meaning or value, according to Dilthey, are discovered in direct experience. At the same time, the inner meaning of external events is recreated; the researcher revives the significance that these events had for his participants. Thanks to this, the historical past revives, ceasing to be a dry summary of dates and details, and again becoming the life itself under the pen of the historian. The most characteristic form of research of this kind is the biography of a historical figure, philosopher, writer, when working on which the historian seems to be reincarnated as his hero and re-experiences the events of his external and internal life.

At the same time, the life of the spirit is objectified, i.e. is embodied in cultural values ​​or social systems. The life of the past, with its special forms of social institutions, law, religion, forms special cultural systems, closed in themselves, i.e. filled with meanings and values, different from those in which modern people live. The work of a historian, his attempt to penetrate the inner world of the past, broadens our horizons with new life opportunities that are only achievable. The historian revives for us other spiritual worlds, and this helps us to enrich our own world.

As already mentioned, everything that is created by the spirit is historical. Therefore, the key methodological problem of all the sciences of the spirit is the question of how objective historical knowledge is possible? Where to look for a guarantee that the historian has reproduced the real past life, and not his own inner world? Dilthey thinks a lot about the hermeneutic circle. He agrees that the historian is constantly moving in it. But on what basis can you be sure that this movement will end with an objective result? Dilthey seeks such guarantees in human psychology. He believes in the community of the human psyche. Understanding can be achieved, because in the sciences of the spirit life knows itself, that is, a person knows a person.

At the same time, it must be emphasized that Dilthey did not reduce the historian's task only to feeling and experiencing. He sought the connection between the emotional and the rational in historical knowledge. Therefore, he said that the historian's task is understanding, and it, unlike experience, must be expressed in terms. "Only understanding," Dilthey said, "removes the restriction associated with an individual experience, as well as, on the other hand, it gives personal experiences the character of life experience. When it spreads to an increasing number of people, spiritual creations and communities, the horizon of individual life expands, and in the sciences of the spirit a path opens that leads through the general to the universal " [9, p. 186].

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