The science of interpretation of texts and symbols. Originally hermeneutics was concerned with biblical scriptures and philosophical commentaries. It has however be widely extended during the last century, for ex. by DILTHEY (1922, 1935)
Hermeneutics is closely related to semiotics, the science of signs and their meanings
By extention, the science of the interpretation of human individual and social behavior.
What people think they themselves are doing, as well as what other people are doing is of course not necessarily the same as what they are "really" doing. The problem is obviously the meaning that should be given to the word "really ", as it does not seem possible to establish perfectly objective criteria for describing "reality". This is specially true in human sciences, in which values, norms, mental frames, etc… can never be "objective".
J.Z. YOUNG shows himself somewhat skeptical about hermeneutics as a science when he defines it more modestly as "the study of the supposed fundamental significance of human thoughts, utterances, actions and institutions" and observes that "Hermeneutics was used originally by theologians for interpretations of the truths in the Bible" (1978, p.293).
Of course, the study of human conditions of knowledge… by humans is by its nature always relatie and possibly questionable. It is however better than the mere naive uncritical belief of an observer who does not understand his own defined and limited mental and psychical conditions or, as said by Ortega y Gasset, his belief in his own transparency as observer (1965, p. 145)
The German philosopher Hans GADAMER (1900-2002) is generally considered to have founded Hermeneutics (J. GRONDIN, 1995, 1996, 1999). Much of his work has its roots in the pre-socratic greek philosophers, among them Heraclitos and Parmenides.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
We thank the following partners for making the open access of this volume possible: