Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory… Understanding: A Preliminary Act of Interpretation

PALMER, R.E. (1969) Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

“a scientist will call interpretation his analysis of given data; it would be correct also to call his seeing of the data interpretation. Even in the moment that the data becomes statement, interpretation has occurred. Likewise, the literary critic calls his analysis of a work interpretation; it would be correct also to call his way of seeing the work itself interpretation. But the ‘understanding’ that serves as the foundation for interpretation is itself already shaping and conditioning interpretation – it is a preliminary interpretation, but one that can make all the difference because it sets the stage for subsequent interpretation.” (p22)

Understanding is a foundation for interpretation and as Palmer points out, in itself, understanding is a preliminary act of interpretation on which future interpretations are built. If examine this idea understanding emerges from analysis. Analysis of scientific data, or literary work, or studied behaviour, all involve early interpretation from background knowledge to test, understand and interpret.

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