The Handwritten Manuscripts
Ed. Heinz Kimmerle (1977).
Trans. James Duke and Jack Forstman. Atlanta (GA): Scholars Press, 1986.
Translators' Introduction (1-18).
James Duke: "Schleiermacher: On Hermeneutics" (1-15)
The Art of Understanding
2- Schleiermacher constructs his theory in debate with Enlightenment hermeneutics on the Classics and Biblical exegesis—which are unsystematic and fail to do justice to the phenomenon of understanding.
3- They take understanding as a matter of course; Schleiermacher warns against the equal possibility of misunderstanding. He analyzes understanding in ordinary conversation: based on a shared language (universal) plus a personal message (a particular element); they interact and complement themselves. "The established linguistic system 'allows' one to speak, and by the same token it channels and otherwise conditions one's pattern of thought".
4- "Yet the message one thinks and articulates is one's own. It varies from one's own experience, one's perspective on the world and one's special designs". Three phases: general hermeneutics, grammatical interpreatation, and psychological interpretation.
5- "In effect the interpreter is to trace the stages in the composition of the work, from its original inception to its completion." —To see the author's idea and his decision to comunicate. But there is an interplay of grammar and psychology. A dynamic process— and also an interplay, a dialectical movement, between the comparative and divinatory methods. (The author or text are compared with similar authors or texts). "The interpreter needs some talent for 'feeling' or 'divining' how language as a living, organic power has affected the fabric of thought and the mode of presentation", and must have an insight into the author's personality. The metaphor of the hermeneutic circle: "The logically vexing proposition that the whole is understood from its parts and the parts from the whole".
6- Part/whole relationship in word vs. sentence, and in text vs. language; in a given statement vs. the personality development or life of the author. This circular "motion" from part to whole makes hermeneutics an art. Agility is necessary. A perfect or ideal understanding is never attained.
Schleiermacher's Biblical Hermeneutics
7- Schleiermacher was a lecturer in Biblical hermeneutics at halle and Berlin. His New Testament hermeneutics is warranted by a general theory of interpretation (in a way like his Englightenment predecessors). A special hermeneutics is only justified by a special language and content.—e.g. Christianity (a language-producing power).
8- Schleiermacher is in favour of understanding the New Testament authors within their context—but they also create and reshape that context. "Thus the New Testament texts illustrate how universal and particular features intersect to produce a unique literature". Pro seeing the specificity of both a "school" and of authors inside it. Schleiermacher is rooted in a hermeneutic tradition (because of the problems he deals with, etc.).
9- Kimmerle's Interpretation of Schleiermacher
A contribution to the post-Heideggerian reassessment of the hermeneutical tradition. Kimmerle's thesis: "Schleiermacher shifted from a hermeneutics oriented toward language to one oriented toward the subjectivity of the author". The first relies only on language; the second is ideal: its expression is language. Now language does not equal thought.
9-10: "Thought", as a purely ideal reality, is by necessity modified when rendered in the form of empirical language." The Lücke edition is weighted towards the later Schleiermacher, a psychological emphasis. For Kimmerle, "Schleiermacher's preoccupation with pure understanding leads him to abstract hermeneutics from its historical matrix"—
11- this happens both regarding the historicity of the object and that of the interpreter. Schleiermacher's "shift" is challenged by the translators. There is also psychology in the early manuscripts—perhaps developed later? There is a greater continuity than Kimmerle suggests.
12- From the start we find both objective and subjective factors in Schleiermacher's hermeneutics. Are they both in language, or is language fully objective? A crux. And "does attention to the process of composition afford a better grasp of the text itself?" Role of sujective factor in interpretation: how to take it into account?
Schleiermacher's Hermeneutical Legacy
13- Founding hermeneutics on the problem of understanding as a whole. A tension between difference and commonality between persons—hermeneutics spans distances. "For Schleiermacehr, the historical text is not addressed directly to the present interpreter, but to an original audience. The present interpreter is to understand that original communication in terms of its historical context."
14- Dialogue with the past, etc. A relation between historical distance and authority: the classics appear as a norm for the present, or the Bible, but on the other hand there is the problem of applicability, a different question [Cf. Ed. D. Hirsch's notions of "meaning" vs. "significance"]. Schleiermacher's orientation to understanding is still valid now.
The Text and Translation (by James Duke and H. Jackson Forstman, 15-18). Only the Academy Addresses in this volume were meant for publication. The rest are lecture notes by Schleiermacher.
Foreword to the German edition by Heinz Kimmerle (19-20)
19- "The present practice of understanding in the sciences—and even in life itself—is determined by the image of historical-ontical research that developed in the previous century" [meaning of course the 19th century].
20- Schleiermacher tries to develop a science of understanding, but this "methodizing" separates understanding from life and from the application of what has been understood (due to his psychologism).
Editor's Introduction by Heinz Kimmerle (21-40)
Schleiermacher's manuscripts; dating, etc. Ms. on criticism is not suitable for publication (dealing with philological criticism, previous to hermeneutics, in order to secure an authentic text).
The development of Schleiermacher's Thought on Hermeneutics
27- Schleiermacher is now seen through Dilthey's "Die Entstehung der Hermeneutik" (by Odebrecht, Bultmann, etc.). But Dilthey's description is only valid for the late Schleiermacher, from 1819 ms. on; based on "psychological reconstruction" for understanding, and directed towards the creative process of the origin of a work. 28- The early emphasis on grammatical interpretation is not properly recognized, nor his evolution.
Hermeneutics as a 'philological discipline'
In Kurze Darstellung der theologischen Studiums, 54 (1811), the "art of interpretation" is a "philosophical discipline which deends on principles as those in any other (art)". Idea of hermeneutics as a systematic whole—not a loose collection of rules.
29- Schleiermacher advocates a general hermeneutics; vs. dealing only with special problems. Vs. normative assumption of Ernesti (Biblical interpretation) and Ast & Wolf (classics), which give a special status to their texts. But also from the start, "Schleiermacher's conception of a universal hermeneutics was linked to a fruther, questionable view that hermeneutical method should not be concerned at all with the historical particularity of the item to be understood". Understanding as a special, self-enclosed process. One must become the immediate reader of the text, but somehow historical knowledge is irrelevant for that.
30- "Just as Schleiermacher tried to separate the process of understanding from the appropriation of historical knowledge in order to distill its universal principles, so too he wants to detach the pure conception from the further task of assimilating the thing conceived and to confine hermeneutics to the first" [Cf. Hirsch's objective meaning vs. significance - JAGL]. Vs. Ernesti's inclusion of subtilitas explicandi within hermeneutics. Pure comprehension must precede judgment.
31- Schleiermacher tries to leap over historical distance and be absorbed in the view of those who lived in the past. Language is the only presupposition in hermeneutics. Vs. Ernesti's linguistic theory that one word has only one sense (sensus) which unflods into various meanings (significationes)—for Schleiermacher every word has a general sphere of meaning which can be 'felt' in its concrete applications—'feeling' instead of completeness. Hermeneutic circle:
32- "According to Schleiermacher, one can escape this apparent circle. One must begin by ascertaining the usage of the given word from the context of the sentence in which it occurs. Then, by comparing all known applications of the word, one can determine the general sphere in a provisional way. This provisional grasp of the general meaning becomes the point of departure for the hermeneutical operations, specifically directed towards determining the special application in each particular case." A comprehensive hermeneutics, dealing with the whole of language, starting with children's acquisition of language.
33- Understanding "is structured as a complex coinherence of universal and particular acts of reason (inner symbol or idea, & language). Grammatical interpretation interprets a word as general language, and "technical" interpreatation does so "'positively', as it is dependent on the power and mode of speech of a particular person".
34—individuals thereby develop language through their expressions while remaining bound by the possibilities of language. Technical interpretation interprets style.
35- Hermeneutics as a 'doctrine or art' [Kunstlehre] or a 'technique' [Technik].
In Kurze Darstellung des Theologischen Studiums, 53 (1830), Schleiermacher writes "The full understanding of a discourse or writing is an artistic achievement and this requires a doctrine of art or technique, which we designate by the term 'hermeneutics' . . . Such a doctrine of art only exists insofar as its rules from a system based directly on clear principles drawn from the nature of thinking and language." Schleiermacher tried to incorporate his hermeneutics into his concept of ethics.
36- As with other disciplines, Schleiermacher inadequately posits for hermeneutics "a discrepancy between the ideal inner essence and the empirical external appearance." —> The object of hermeneutics is split into internal thinking and external language—> "Schleiermacher backs off from the thought that dominated his earlier herrmeneutical sketches and that he could formulate as late as 1813: "thought and expression are essentially and internally entirely the same". Now, no longer a concern about how general, external language is individualized. Language is now only the expression of individuality. "More and more the process by which thinking emerges into empirically graspable linguistic form becomes the proper object of hermeneutics, with special reference to how in thies process of the externalization of thinking the individuality of the speaker comes to be known."
37- For Kimmerle, our thinking is determined by language, and Schleiermacher gives up this insight. A knowledge of the state of language, and a knowledge about the life and thought of the author are necessary for interpretation. In Schleiermacher's "Introduction to the New Testament", he wants to
38- "place us (by gathering historical knowledge) in the position of the original readers for whom the New Testament authors wrote" [But wasn't he supposed to ignore history? - JAGL] This is preparatory, separate from actual exegesis . In the 1819 account, technicall interpretation does not concern itself with individuality, but withstyle (even if individuality appears fully represented there). The modification of general language is seen as the individuality of the speaker.
39- Later (in the "Academy Addresses") the work is seen as an act, the object of interpretation is individual and internal thought; the aim is "understanding how something is an empirical modirfication of an ideal reality."
40- A whole series of processes to this end (ms. 6) but only one more section is added, "psychological" interpretation (subdivided into 'psychological' and 'technical').
THE APHORISMS OF 1805 AND 1809-10
1) Vs. Ernesti - Hermeneutics concerned only subtilitas intelligendi. Subtilitas applicandi involves the production of texts, "and is itself subject to hermeneutics"; "hermeneutics may offer suggestions for the proper use of commentaries, but not for writing them".
3) "Two divergent maxims for understanding: (1) I am understanding everything until I encounter a contradiction or nonsense. (2) I do not understand anything that I cannot perceive and comprehend [construiren] as necessary. In accordance with this second maxim, understanding is an unending task"
4) The failure to understand is failuree to understand words—some aspect of "The entire schematic view [Anschauung] present in a word-sphere."
6) "Strictly speaking, grammatical interpretation is the objective side; technical, the subjective. Consequently, grammatical interpretation plays a negative role in hermeneutical construction, masking the boundaries; technical interpetation is positive. These two sides of interpretation cannot always coincide, for that would presuppose both a complete knowledge of and completely correct use of language. The 'art' lies in knowing when one side should give way to the other."
7) Vs. axiomantism in method.
8) "In interpretation it is essential that one be ahble to step out of one's frame of mind into that of the author"