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From the Bookshelf

Subjective or Sympathetic Interpretation?

The later is arguably a better practice than the former:

We can set aside Schleiermacher’s ideas on subjective interpretation. When we try to understand a text, we do not try to transpose ourselves into the author’s mind [in die seelische Verfassung des Authors] but, if one wants to use this terminology, we try to transpose ourselves into the perspective within which he has formed his views [in die Perspective, unter der der andere seine Meinung gewonnen hat]. But this simply means that we try to understand how what he is saying could be right. If we want to understand, we will try to make his arguments even stronger (Gadamer, Truth and Method 292; italics added; Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode 297).

Of course, in addition to its direct relevance to interpreting the New Testament, this suggestion to seek to understand “how what [another person] is saying could be right” and even to understand how these arguments could become more plausible is good advice for interpreting all kinds of human communication, perhaps especially communication from those with whom one disagrees. Specifically, such understanding helps prevent premature critiques, and it enables critiques that are made to be made much more carefully.


In this post:

Hans Georg Gadamer

Hans Georg Gadamer

Wahrheit und Methode

Hans Georg Gadamer

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Associate Professor

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This site and its content are licensed by J. David Stark under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person(s) or institution(s).
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