Friday, 19 March 2021


The human search for truth and knowledge is an unending enterprise. There are different ways of knowing and arriving at the truth. Irrespective of the source and medium through which knowledge has come about, the truth is arrived at, it is an undeniable fact that human experience and its analysis do point us in some direction. Since knowledge is mediated, it is in some way an interpretation. There is always a background in which perception takes place.

Elements of Hermeneutics:

According to Crotty, the origin of hermeneutics in its modern-day use dates back to the 17th century, where it gained importance in the context of biblical studies. Hermeneutics provide guidelines for interpreting scriptures. Since the 17th century, hermeneutics has moved into many areas of scholarship and been applied to text other than scriptures, including unwritten sources.

The meaning and scope of the term “hermeneutics” is an important consideration in a research study that concerns itself with interpretation. Etymologically the roots of the word hermeneutics lie in the Greek verb hermeneuein, which is generally translated as “interpret” or “understand”.

Six different elements of hermeneutics emerged during modern times, each representing a standpoint on the act of interpretation. Although each element brings to the forefront legitimate but different influences on the act of interpretation, there are particular hermeneutic elements that suit the unique beliefs, philosophies and practices of the interpretive inquirer. The two elements that offer the greatest meaning in the context of this particular hermeneutic inquiry are the phenomenology of existential understanding and interpretive procedures.

The Capacity of the Text

The text in the strict sense of hermeneutics is one of the key elements. Text generally understood as that stretch of written language which has a beginning and end. In a metaphorical sense, text can be extended even to include messages generated by sign-systems of various religious, economic, social etc.

The Capacity of the Reader / Interpreter

Like the text, the reader too has an impact on the text: being influenced by the text and influencing the text. Every reader brings a horizon of expectation to the text. The horizon of expectation is a mind-set, or system of references, which characterizes the reader’s finite viewpoint amidst his or her situations in time and history.

The Capacity of the Author

The author cannot be ignored in the hermeneutics. It is his worldview, unconsciously comes into the text and affects the text. An author cannot dispatch himself fully from his historical condition. He feeds both the actual meaning and intended meaning into the text. However, the text has traces of his world view and his times, which can be traced through hermeneutics.


The primary concern of hermeneutics is the philosophy of understanding. Interpretive hermeneutic understanding differs from other ways of understanding by presupposing that all texts and non-texts are strange and inaccessible - and, as such, distanced from the interpreter. But a paradox exists: for, despite the sense of strangeness and distance between the interpreter and the individual and/or text, there is an assumed link or commonality between the two, making the event of understanding feasible.

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