Hermeneutics is the study of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. Hermeneutics includes the art of understanding and communication.
Contemporary scholor Theodore George states:
- Hermeneutics is the study of interpretation. Hermeneutics plays a role in a number of disciplines whose subject matter demands interpretative approaches, characteristically, because the disciplinary subject matter concerns the meaning of human intentions, beliefs, and actions, or the meaning of human experience as it is preserved in the arts and literature, historical testimony, and other artifacts. Traditionally, disciplines that rely on hermeneutics include theology, especially Biblical studies, jurisprudence, and medicine, as well as some of the human sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In such contexts, hermeneutics is sometimes described as an “auxiliary” study of the arts, methods, and foundations of research appropriate to a respective disciplinary subject matter (Grondin 1994, 1). For example, in theology, Biblical hermeneutics concerns the general principles for the proper interpretation of the Bible. More recently, applied hermeneutics has been further developed as a research method for a number of disciplines (see, for example, Moules inter alia 2015).
- Within philosophy, however, hermeneutics typically signifies, first, a disciplinary area and, second, the historical movement in which this area has been developed. As a disciplinary area, and on analogy with the designations of other disciplinary areas (such as ‘the philosophy of mind’ or ‘the philosophy of art’), hermeneutics might have been named ‘the philosophy of interpretation.’ Hermeneutics thus treats interpretation itself as its subject matter and not as an auxiliary to the study of something else. Philosophically, hermeneutics therefore concerns the meaning of interpretation—its basic nature, scope and validity, as well as its place within and implications for human existence; and it treats interpretation in the context of fundamental philosophical questions about being and knowing, language and history, art and aesthetic experience, and practical life.
- Audi, Robert (1999). 377. ISBN 978-0521637220. (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.
- Reese, William L. (1980). Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. Sussex: Harvester Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0855271473.
- Zimmermann, Jens (2015). Hermeneutics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780199685356.
- Hermeneutics, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy