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Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences$
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Gurpreet Mahajan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198076971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198076971.001.0001

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Hermeneutic Understanding

Hermeneutic Understanding

(p.50) III Hermeneutic Understanding
Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences

Gurpreet Mahajan

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses hermeneutic understanding, which is primarily a way of recovering the meaning of utterances and performances of historical agents. However, what distinguishes it from other modes of inquiry is the historical nature of its perception, namely, its claim about the historicality of human existence and the plurality of historical worlds. Advocates of hermeneutic understanding maintain that we can understand the actions and utterances of men and recover the link between life and experience embodied in these expressions only by reconstructing the life of the other. The purpose of a hermeneutic inquiry is twofold: (a) it seeks to understand the other and (b) it opens up new worlds and possibilities to us by making available the life of the other.

Keywords:   hermeneutic inquiry, meaning, historical agents, human existence, historical worlds, other's life

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