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(1985) Phenomenology and the human sciences, Dordrecht, Springer.

The hermeneutics of suspicion

Hans-Georg Gadamer

pp. 73-83

In proposing to discuss the hermeneutics of suspicion, I clearly had in mind the usage of Paul Ricoeur; Ricoeur who never opposes without somehow reconciling, could not avoid opposing — at least in a first approach — hermeneutics in the classic sense, of interpreting the meaning of texts, to the radical critique of and suspicion against understanding and interpreting. This radical suspicion was inaugurated by Nietzsche and had its most striking instances in the critique of ideology on the one hand, and psychoanalysis on the other. Now it is necessary to examine the relationship between traditional hermeneutics, its philosophical situation, and this radical form of interpretation, which is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum of interpretation — because it challenges the claims to validity of ideas and ideologies. I should begin by saying that the problem of hermeneutical suspicion can be understood in a more radical or wider sense. Is not every form of hermeneutics a form of overcoming an awareness of suspicion? Husserl himself tried to found his own phenomenology on the basis of the Cartesian way of doubting the appearances of reliability of first impressions. That was a consequence of the modern sciences, so there is no question that the problem of suspicion has also this place in our context.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-5081-8_6

Full citation:

Gadamer, H.-G. (1985)., The hermeneutics of suspicion, in J. N. Mohanty (ed.), Phenomenology and the human sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 73-83.

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