Fall 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Bambach, Charles
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6395 Section 001
T Time 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
History of Hermeneutics

Description of Course:

Textual interpretation is never an autochthonic, self-generated activity; rather it always places us within the very matrices bequeathed by tradition. Texts come down to us in the form of palimpsests, written upon by other texts which shape the way we approach and interpret them. When the texts are written in a different language we inevitably confront the problem of translation; when they derive from an ancient culture we are forced to account for the problem of temporal distance. This graduate seminar on "The History of Hermeneutics" will raise questions about the practice of translation/interpretation within the context of philosophical and literary tradition.

In this graduate seminar on philosophical hermeneutics we will explore various aspects of the problem of interpretation. What do we do when we interpret? Is this a value-judgement? an act of critical engagement? an historically learned prejudice? an inevitable consequence of human activity? Does interpretation - in literary, aesthetic or historical practice - require a method? a theory? a grounding in principle? Could there ever be something like a "science of interpretation"? Or is interpretation something particular to the scholarly practices of the arts and humanities?

These are some of the questions we will pursue in our semester's reading. By focusing on the work of four modern German thinkers - Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer - we will try to develop a better sense of how the problems of modern and postmodern discourse are related to theories of interpretation. In practical terms, we will spend most of our time reading BEING & TIME carefully with an emphasis on close hermeneutical interpretation.

Required Texts:

Heidegger, BEING & TIME
Jean Grondin Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

A Protokoll of 1-2pp., a paper proposal of 1-2 pp. and an essay of 13-15 pp. length to cover some aspect of hermeneutics which we deal with this semester.

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