Hermeneutics refers to the art of interpreting texts whether they are sacred, philosophical or literary.
Also, through hermeneutics it is intended to find the true meaning of words, both written and verbal.
Hermeneutics has its origins in Antiquity, when various thinkers focused on the task of interpreting sacred texts or writings in order to differentiate the truth from the spiritual, and clarify what was ambiguous or unclear. Some of them were Philo of Alexandria, Agustín de Hipona, Martín Lutero, among others.
However, it was in the Modern Age that studies around hermeneutics took more form after the contributions of the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher, which is why he is considered the father of hermeneutics.
Among his principles proposed by Schleiermacher, the idea of understanding and interpreting the discourse, as the author exposes it, stands out, and then proposes an interpretation even better than this.
The hermeneutical term derives from the Greek ἑρμηνευτικὴ τέχνη ( hermeneutiké tejne ), which means the ‘art of explaining, translating, clarifying or interpreting’. Likewise, the word hermeneutic is related to the name of the Greek god Hermes, the messenger god with the ability to decipher hidden meanings.
The purpose of the biblical hermeneutics is to study the principles, rules and methods to make an adequate interpretation of the biblical texts in order to understand their meaning.
In this sense, it aims to offer the means to make a correct interpretation of the texts of the Bible. Some of the methods used require textual, literary and historical analysis.
Also, hermeneutics is used to interpret other religious works of diverse cultures. Hence, in many cases it is related to the term exegesis, which refers, and strictly speaking, to the ‘interpretation’ of both a religious and scientific and philosophical text.
Hermeneutics in Philosophy
Since philosophical studies, hermeneutics has been a term interpreted in different ways by philosophers and thinkers at various times.
Hence, it can be defined as a philosophical current applicable to the analysis of human sciences, in order to establish the importance of interpreting and understanding human facts taking into account the socio-historical context in which they occur.
In this sense, the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher presented hermeneutics as a practical knowledge that allows the interpretation of written or oral contents based on the reconstruction of the author’s context, which in turn allows us to put ourselves in his place and make a better understanding of the information.
In the study of this term, the philosopher Martin Heidegger places understanding before interpretation. For his part, the German Hans-Georg Gadamer is considered a renovator of the concept of hermeneutics as a theory of truth and an interpretive method.
Legal hermeneutics is the study of the rules and methods for the interpretation of legal texts. Its objective is that the interpretation of this type of texts is not made based on subjective criteria that can modify the original meaning of the texts.