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Research Seminar for Philosophical Hermeneutics

Philosophical Hermeneutics can be described as a philosophical position which reflects the essence of human being in terms of historicity . Human beings do not have a history but are historical in nature. This insight has been put forth prominently by Hegel; its idealistic framework has been challenged by various philosophers such as Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Cassirer, Gadamer, Foucault, Ricoeur, Derrida, Deleuze, Vattimo, Agamben and others. Common to these various thinkers is a non-naturalistic approach to human existence, which explores the various media of cultural formation and meaning generation in both individual and collective perspective. Philosophical Hermeneutics reflects the fact that what it means to be a person (or a group of persons, an institution, a company, political party, a nation, a social class, a generation) depends on one’s understanding of being that particular person (or that particular group of persons, …). That is to say that understanding does not display or represent one’s own way of being as if this was given as an independent object. Understanding does not refer to a non-mediated reality, which could be taken as the object of knowledge. The reality referred to by understanding is always already in itself mediated. In other words: What people in fact are, depends on how they understand themselves, rather than their understanding merely would depict their way of being. It is the plurality of the discourses of our understanding, which constitutes the human way of being.

Philosophical Hermeneutics reflects this mediated or interpretative identity on various levels. Given that the knowledge-society is characterized by the global distribution of knowledge and information, which is taken to be the true resource of welfare in the 21. century, Philosophical Hermeneutics delivers a pivotal contribution to our understanding of modern society. It provides an insight of the cultural and historical mechanisms which constitute our modern self-understanding and thus our reality. It addresses the question, what it means to be a being, whose reality consists in its (historically, culturally, technologically mediated) understanding.

The overall aim of the permanent Research Seminar for Philosophical Hermeneutics is to reflect on the mechanisms of human understanding from a phenomenological and hermeneutical point of view, supplying or challenging recent tendencies of a naturalization of human understanding within cognitive sciences including neurobiology. According to philosophical hermeneutics a holistic approach is needed, which takes human embodied situatedness into account. As this situatedness can be addressed on various fields, with various both empirical and philosophical perspectives, the seminar has a broad scope of actual research topics.

The seminar has been devoted to topics such as the following:

  • The hermeneutics of memory (Aristotle, Bergson, Ricoeur)
  • The phenomenology of love
  • Otherness in philosophical hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics and the metaphysics of immanence – Spinoza and Nietzsche
  • Human being as responsive beings: Heidegger and philosophical anthropology
  • Gadamer and Cassirer on questioning
  • Anthropology and the need for the first-person-perspective
  • Phenomenology of psychology and the hermeneutics of freedom
  • The hermeneutics of coaching
  • The hermeneutics of trust

Seminar Programme Autumn 2016