Thursday, 2 August 2012

Holism without Skepticism… Circularity

BOHMAN, J.F. (1991) Holism without Skepticism: Contexualism and the Limits of Interpretation. In: D.R. HILEY, J.F. BOHMAN, and R. SHUSTERMAN (Eds.) The Interpretive Turn. Cornell University Press. pp129-154

“the background thesis makes all actions, theories, and expressions context dependent. Taken together, circularity and reference to a background exclude the possibility of reducing interpretations to semantic explication or to some other procedure for fixing determinate meanings without reference to holistic constraints. These two premises [1&2] alone are sufficient to warrant scepticism about interpretation. It is commonplace in hermeneutics to argue that circularity need not be vicious.” (p137)

The fact that interpretation is circular, perspectival and exists within a socio-cultural context (meaning the interpreter’s actions and expressions are context dependent) does not mean that the circularity itself be vicious. Just because a determinate meaning cannot be achieved, due to such an existential problem of the individual’s understanding of being-in-the-world, doesn’t mean that understanding cannot be reached within using a hermeneutic circle. On the contrary. 

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