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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Hermeneutics \Her`me*neu"tics\, n. [Gr. ? (sc. ?).] The science of interpretation and explanation; exegesis; esp., that branch of theology which defines the laws whereby the meaning of the Scriptures is to be ascertained.
--Schaff-Herzog Encyc.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1737, from hermeneutic; also see -ics.


n. The study or theory of the methodical interpretation of text, especially holy texts.


n. the branch of theology that deals with principles of exegesis


Hermeneutics ( or ) is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. It started out as a theory of text interpretation but has been later broadened to questions of general interpretation.

Hermeneutics was initially applied to the interpretation, or exegesis, of scripture. The terms "hermeneutics" and "exegesis" are sometimes used interchangeably. Hermeneutics is a wider discipline which includes written, verbal, and non-verbal communication. Exegesis focuses primarily upon texts.

Modern hermeneutics includes both verbal and non-verbal communication as well as semiotics, presuppositions, and pre-understandings. Hermeneutics has been broadly applied in the humanities, especially in law, history and theology.

Hermeneutic, as a singular noun, refers to some particular method of interpretation (see, in contrast, double hermeneutic).

Hermeneutics (disambiguation)

Hermeneutics is a theory of text interpretation.

Hermeneutics may also refer to:

  • The hermeneutic circle, the process of understanding a text hermeneutically
  • Biblical hermeneutics, the study of the principles of interpretation of the Bible
  • Environmental hermeneutics, applies the techniques and resources of hermeneutics to environmental issues
  • Philosophical hermeneutics, a theory of knowledge initiated by Martin Heidegger
  • Quranic hermeneutics, study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book
  • Talmudic hermeneutics, the rules and methods for investigating the meaning of the Jewish scriptures
  • Theological hermeneutics, the application of hermeneutics to theological texts
  • Vedic hermeneutics ( Mīmāṃsā), the exegesis of the Vedas, the earliest holy texts of Hinduism
  • Hermeneutic style, an elaborate style of Latin in early medieval Europe

Usage examples of "hermeneutics".

However, deep hermeneutics maintains that once the person loosens the repression barrier, exposes this deeper truth, and acknowledges it, then a certain liberation is gained, a liberation from the distortions, lies, and delusions that were constructed to hide the truth.

Surfaces can be seen but depths must be interpreted, and in that interpretation, you and I can be mistaken, and thus some sort of the hermeneutics of suspicion will always accompany us into the depths.

The discovery of the importance of the constructed intersubjective space is the essence of the genuinely post-Cartesian paradigms, from structuralism to hermeneutics to genealogy and archaeology and grammatologya point we will return to below.

Hermeneutics focused on the signifieds (LH), which could only be grasped from within by empathic participation, and structuralism focused on the signifiers (RH), which can best be approached in a distancing stance of exterior study.

Foucault, in his archaeological period, outdid them both, situating the both of them (structuralism and hermeneutics) in an episteme (later, dispositif) that itself was the cause and context of the type of people that would even want to do hermeneutics and structuralism in the first place.

These are questions, not for hermeneutics or semiotics, but rather for population genetics.