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SOSC 1009 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Lifeworld, Edmund Husserl, Friedrich Schleiermacher

Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 1009
Study Guide

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Hermeneutics is basically the art of interpretation. This word was first mentioned by a German
philosopher, who is Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768 - 1834) in Bible studies. At first,
“hermeneutics” is used in term of interpreting the text, the context and the author of the sacred
text, or scripture, in Bible. Hermeneutics comes from the Greek word “hermeneueien” (“to
understand”) and Hermes, the divine messenger in Greek mythology who is the bearer of
information and knowledge. Later, the word “hermeneutics” was applied in human science
research by Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 - 1911) and in contemporary hermeneutics, Hans Georg
Gadamer (1900 2002) introduced an important term in hermeneutics, that is “a fusion of
horizons”. In other words, Gadamer claimed that when one is reading a text, he brings together
his own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, knowledge… (and these are so called his own
“horizons”). The readers horizons and the authors horizons, expressed by the literary world of
the text, both made a collision in the act of reading and interpreting. Different people would have
different outlooks even when reading the same text. Therefore, one should look beyond his own
assumptions, or his own “horizons” so to speak, to capture a broader image of a text.
More recently, Kneller (1984) has suggested four principles for hermeneutics, as following:
1. Understanding a human act or human product is like understanding a text. This
means, if we want to understand a phenomena of human being, it should be researched in
its own context instead of understood independently.
2. All interpretation occurs within a tradition. This means, one can never be positive that
what he understands from the text is exactly the same as what the author meant to
3. Interpretation involves opening oneself to a text or any kind of phenomenon and
questioning it. This means, when a fusion of horizons is created, it challenges one’s
assumptions whether it is right or it should be changed.
4. One must interpret the text in the light of one’s situation. This means, one should
leave behind one’s own assumptions and experiences because they make a big impact on
the act of interpreting the text which could lead to misinterpretation.
Social Science is the study of the society. The society is a human creation, that is to say Social
Science is the study of human. More clearly, Social Science is like a Ring Theory that consists
of layers of perceptions (disciplines of Social Science), such as anthropology, psychology,
history, sociology, geography, education… and human being stands in the middle of these
concentric circles. Some fields could overlap to others because all the fields connect together
and cannot stand separately. With this in mind, researching in Social Science by the
hermeneutical approach, the whole cannot be understood without its part and vice versa, like
in a hermeneutic circle. Looking beyond one’s immediate layers perceptions allows one to be
more open to possibilities which could help to elucidate the text more properly and precisely in
the authors context.
You’re definitely on the right track. Think of some examples to illustrate interpreting the text,
social science (ring theory) and hermeneutic circle.
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