Category Archives: Abstracts

E. Sonderegger, Nichtempirische Begründungen von Wissen und Verstehen

Nichtempirische Begründungen von Wissen und Verstehen
Erwin Sonderegger

Phenomenology and hermeneutics are two powerful strategies to avoid the apories of realism and empiricism, in particular the problem of the first experience. To give a background to these alternatives, I will highlight the core theses of realistic and empirical positions from three periods. With regard to phenomenology particular emphasis is placed on the intentionality whereby cogito and cogitatum are together right from the outset, and as concerns hermeneutics on the thesis that our understanding is based on the prior knowledge (Vorwissen). I cover the problems of both movements, in particular the solipsism and the apparent relativism and ask how to prevent them. At the end you will find a presentation of Meinungswelten, which allows us to keep realism in everyday life and nonetheless gives a nonrealistic and nonempirical foundation to our knowledge and understanding.

Knowledge a priori, opinion–based worlds (Meinungswelten), fundamental opinions, first experience


M. Soboleva, Plato, Hermeneutics and Knowledge

Plato, Hermeneutics and Knowledge
Maja Soboleva

The dialogue “Theaetetus” has once again become famous due to discussion on the concept ‘knowledge’ in analytic philosophy. In my paper, I provide a novel interpretation of this dialogue and demonstrate how it can be applied for a specification of hermeneutics. For this, I revisit this dialogue and argue, against the dominant view, that Plato achieves a positive result concerning the concept of knowledge. I show that this kind of knowledge can be interpreted as a special kind of ‘practical knowledge’ and used for the reconstruction of a hermeneutic tradition à la Dilthey. I then demonstrate the main characteristics of this kind of knowledge analysing the relationship between the concepts ‘knowledge’ and ‘belief’ and between the concepts ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’, and challenging the standard definition of knowledge as a true justified belief from the hermeneutic perspective. One methodological implication of my paper may be to challenge the dominant and sometimes eliminative projects assuming that all knowledge can be somehow reduced to propositional knowledge.

Hermeneutics; knowledge; Plato; Theaetetus; practical knowledge; intellectual perception; belief; truth.

J.-I. Lindén, Apperception and Experience

Apperception and Experience. Some Ontological Perspectives
Jan-Ivar Lindén

The modern era is profoundly marked by the idea of a subjective consciousness. This idea remains fundamental, not only in Descartes, but in all currents of thought using the distinction between the subjective and the objective – even if it is not always recognized as such. There is, however, a difference between perception and apperception which remained unclear in the Cartesian conception of consciousness, but which was articulated by Leibniz and became a major theme of philosophical psychology in the 18th and 19th century. From the beginning of the 19th century the discussion was also complicated by the concept of the unconscious, which in a way means a rediscovery of the Aristotelian psyche.
What should we understand by apperception: a self-consciousness, a consciousness of second degree, a retroactive awareness or reflection, a stream of consciousness or perhaps something rather like insight? Which is the relation between sensation, perception and apperception and in which sense are these irreducibly psychic functions? The article suggests some possibilities for describing the ontological status of experience.

Apperception; pattern; quality; presence; appearance.

J.L. Harmon, Interpretation from the Ground Up

Interpretation from the Ground Up. Luigi Pareyson’s Hermeneutics of Inexhaustibility and its Implications for Moral Ontology
Justin L. Harmon

In this paper, I argue that Luigi Pareyson’s hermeneutics, the mature form of which appears in Verità e interpretazione [1971], is at the same time a radical ontology with consequences for both moral and aesthetic theory. In contrast to the better known approaches of Hans–Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, Pareyson’s account of interpretation strives to respect the interpreted object — whether an everyday thing, a work of art, or a human other — as an inexhaustible plenum whose unitary meaning remains irreducible to any given interpretive framework or historical expression, but which requires a multiplicity of such frameworks and expressions. My argument proceeds via an analysis of the four major features of Pareyson’s thought: (1) aesthetic form as formativity, (2) ontological personalism, (3) the ulteriority of truth, and (4) ethical tragedism. The view that emerges presents the sensible intuition of objects as essentially interpretive on the part of concretely existing persons, who in each case aim to reveal the truth of the object in their interpretive expression. But, owing to the inexhaustibility of being as such, every interpretive expression is doomed to fall short, thus establishing hermeneutic experience as an inescapable and infinite ethical task.

Luigi Pareyson, Hermeneutics, Ethics, Personalism, Ontology.

W. Clark Wolf, Analogy as a Mode of Intuitive Understanding in Ricoeur

Analogy as a Mode of Intuitive Understanding in Ricoeur 
William Clark Wolf

Traditionally, the ideas of “intuitive” and “discursive” forms of understanding have been seen as near opposites. Whereas an intuitive understanding could have a direct grasp of something, a discursive understanding would always depend on what is given to it, as mediated by concepts. In this essay, I suggest that Paul Ricoeur’s conception of analogy presents a way of overcoming this opposition. For Ricoeur, an analogy works within discursive understanding, but it depends on an eventful insight that leads beyond what is merely given in discourse. The analogy “gives more” for thought. Yet, as I argue, what analogy gives for thought is always explicable in conceptual terms: any intuitive understanding is commensurate with a discursive one. I illustrate Ricoeur’s mediation of discursive and intuitive understanding in particular with his conception of metaphor, which vividly depends on overcoming a discursive contradiction by analogical and intuitive means. Before introducing Ricoeur’s conception, I discuss the Kantian background of the intuitive/discursive distinction. In particular, I suggest how Goethe’s attempt to revitalize a notion of intuitive understanding can be compared to Ricoeur’s conception, though Ricoeur improves upon Goethe by grounding intuition in the specific phenomenon of analogy.

Paul Ricoeur, Analogy, Intuition, Immanuel Kant, J.W. von Goethe.

M.A.C. Jennings, De-fusing the Horizons? Content Analysis and Hermeneutics

De-fusing the Horizons? Content Analysis and Hermeneutics 
Mark A.C. Jennings


Content Analysis (CA) is a set of methods used for examining texts. I commence by outlining the conceptual foundations of CA articulated most recently by Klaus Krippendorff. He contends that in order for CA to be a reliable method, practitioners must cease understanding texts as ‘containers’ holding a single, inherent meaning. In contrast, the analyst and their interpretive context determine the inferences, and effectively the meaning, of texts.
Outlining the hermeneutics of Hans–Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, I challenge Krippendorff’s assertions, demonstrating that a hermeneutic approach renders visible necessary interpretive decisions which CA obscures. Hermeneutics thus offers an important critique, alerting us to the limitations of CA, and the boundaries it must remain within if it is to remain useful.

Content Analysis, Hermeneutics, Interpretation, Method, Big Word.

E. Alloa, “Laddove c’è prova, non c’è testimonianza”

“Laddove c’è prova, non c’è testimonianza”. Le aporie del testimone secondo Jacques Derrida 
Emmanuel Alloa

The priority that phenomenology grants to the first–person perspective is challenged in different ways by post–phenomenological thinkers, such as Jacques Derrida. The article aims at outlining the strategic function that the figure of the “witness” (témoin) plays in Derrida’s thought, i.e., as a “third” that in Derrida’s early writings undermines the metaphysics of presence and, especially in the later works, appears as a speculative figure between belief and knowledge. On the basis of various remarks on the “witness” to be found across Derrida’s oeuvre it is possible to articulate a grammar of the “witness,” grammar characterized by three constitutive paradoxes: (a) the substitutability of the unsubstitutable, (b) the foundation of the unfoundable, (c) the repetition of the unrepeatable. By elaborating a constitutive logic of the “witness,” Derrida works a complication of phenomenology that falls back upon the notion of “remediation.”

Person, evidence, perception, language, remediation.

A. Rotundo, The Cogito in Nature and History

The Cogito in Nature and History. Phenomenological and Hermeneutical Aspects
Alessio Rotundo

The paper sets out to offer a brief overview on the elaboration of phenomenological understanding in its original form within Husserl’s program and in later developments (Heidegger, Gadamer, Merleau–Ponty). It is argued that the still overarching idea of science leads Husserl’s self–understanding of the task of phenomenology. Heidegger’s far–reaching criticism of this stance as well as later critical approaches within the tradition of hermeneutical philosophy (Gadamer) are presented as working on the rehabilitation of the vital substructures that sustain any scientific endeavor, included that of Husserl’s phenomenology. Hermeneutical criticism and its thematization of an unreflected “life of spirit” (embodied by the notion of “understanding”) calls however for a necessary integration that pays heed to the aspect of the unreflected “natural life” operative in our experience of reality. I claim that this latter integration is achieved by Merleau–Ponty’s reformulation of the notion of cogito and of “intuition” in Phenomenology of Perception.

Phenomenological tradition, hermeneutic philosophy, life–philosophy,
cogito, operative intuition.

A. Kumar, Hermeneutics from the Margins

Hermeneutics from the Margins. Provisional Notes 
Apaar Kumar

This paper provisionally offers a way of addressing the predicament of a person who does not feel at home in her own concepts, because these concepts were once forced upon her by a colonial regime. If the goal for a person in such a circumstance is to overcome this alienation through intellectual means, then one way in which this might be accomplished would be to develop a hermeneutics that would enable her to ascertain the alienating aspects of her existing concepts. To this end, I outline a hermeneutical strategy which requires that, in reading the colonizer’s textual tradition, the colonized/ex–colonized person must heuristically presuppose that her current concepts are entirely determined by this tradition unless these concepts can be shown to resist such determination on reflective–systematic grounds.

Hermeneutics, colonialism, intellectual self–determination, Husserl, social ontology, critique of ideology.

A. Mumbru Mora, The Ontologization of the Concept of Symbol in H-G. Gadamer’s Hermeneutics

The Ontologization of the Concept of Symbol in H-G. Gadamer’s Hermeneutics
Alejandro Mumbru Mora

H–G. Gadamer’s aesthetic reflection constitutes the previous step to a theoretical proposal, philosophical hermeneutics, which is released from the epistemic and ontological prejudices of modern scientific tradition. The aesthetic concepts of play, festival and symbol, intend to serve as a basis for an alternative description of the phenomenon of understanding. In this paper we aim to show how these notions are not just preparatory but ontological concepts since they give an account of understanding as the fundamental mode of being of each and every individual. We will focus in particular on the concept of symbol: to the extent that our understanding occurs through a language that reflects in a permanently unsuited way the whole of the tradition that constitutes us, the notion of symbol becomes a basic ontological concept since it expresses the tension between the sensible and the intelligible in which our hermeneutic experience occurs.

Aesthetics, hermeneutics, symbol, linguisticity, understanding.