Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The theory and methodology of interpretation, especially of scriptural text.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The art or science of interpretation or exegesis; also, the study of or instruction in the principles of exegesis: as, a professor of hermeneutics.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

From the Ancient Greek ἐρμηνεύς (ermeneus, "translator, interpreter"), from ἑρμηνεύω (ermeneuo, "translate, interpret"), from unknown origin. The term was introduced c.360 BC by Aristotle in his text Περὶ Ἑρμηνείας ("On Interpretation"). It is often suggested that the Greek word root is etymologically related to the name of the Greek mythological deity Hermes, but cognate to a corrupted composite borrowing from Hebrew Har [ha]Emet (Emes) referring to the Biblical Mount Sinai where Moses interpreted the Jewish Law (known as haEmes ("the Truth")) to the people. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term hermeneutics, a Latinized version of the Greek hermeneutice, has been part of common language from the beginning of the 17th century.

    Hermeneutics

  • Possessed by madness and in hermeneutics overdrive, he will decipher this bit of the built environment.

    Dan Brown's Campidoglio

  • This is what fancy theorists call a hermeneutics of belief.

    The least worst form of Government…

  • It spends a great deal of its time fretting about interpretation, or what it prefers to call hermeneutics, as in Hermes, the most elusive of the Greek gods, the very icon of instability and movement, of zooming out of focus and into enigmatic strangeness, with riddling messages under his wing.

    BREAKFAST WITH SOCRATES

  • One the one hand, Gadamer stalwartly defends the autonomy of the art work and, on the other, despite his resistance to any subsumption of art within philosophy, he insists nevertheless that aesthetics should be absorbed within hermeneutics, which is for the most part understood as a theoretical enterprise.

    Gadamer's Aesthetics

  • In paranoid schizophrenia, for example, patients tend to interpret what other people say with what might be called a hermeneutics of fear and suspicion, and in extreme cases, will have elaborate and fixed fantastic theories about ways in which others are aiming to harm them.

    Mental Illness

  • Meier's contribution to hermeneutics is to argue for the interdependence of hermeneutics and language, introducing a semantic holism in which linguistic obscurities are detangled by reference to language itself, not by reference to extra-linguistic elements such as the intention of the author.

    Hermeneutics

  • Marxist critics often practice what is known as the hermeneutics of suspicion - that is, they question the motives of authors and seek to explain why some would ever choose to support capitalism.

    Mises Institute Daily Articles (Full-text version)

  • The aforementioned volume, consequently, criticizes the conciliar "hermeneutics" of men who are certainly not "closed" toward Vatican II or opposed to it, such as Jedin, Kasper, Ratzinger, and Poulat himself.

    A Timely Re-Read on a Critique of a Particular, and Popular, Hermeneutic of Vatican II

  • Otherwise, I wonder if mind-wrought signs and symbols don't require a different kind of hermeneutics than the signs of natural phenomena.

    AKMA’s Random Thoughts

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Comments

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  • Is "hermeneut" a legitimate form of this word? (as in "interpreter"?)
    Kitchsbest

    December 2, 2008

  • The word 'hermeneutics' is a term derived from the Greek word for interpreter. This is related to the name of the Greek god Hermes in his role as interpreter of messages, from the gods.

    September 17, 2008