Scholarly article on topic 'The Case of Schleiermacher In The Context Of Hermeneutic Method In Education'

The Case of Schleiermacher In The Context Of Hermeneutic Method In Education Academic research paper on "Philosophy, ethics and religion"

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Abstract of research paper on Philosophy, ethics and religion, author of scientific article — Mehmet Faik Yilmaz

Abstract Very wide range of methods has been used throughout the history of education. Some of these methods have been long-running and employed for centuries; some of them occupied a significant place in the history of education only for a certain period of time and some of them have been frequently in and out of sight in the historical scene. Hermeneutic method, which is also known as a form of interpretivist method, whilst having experienced very functional periods throughout the history of science, also have seen certain periods in which it was not much mentioned and even fall into oblivion. Having taken its name from Hermes who was believed to be a messenger between the gods of the ancient Greek Mythology and the human beings, Hermeneutics experienced a very functional period in the ancient Greek philosophy and literature and played a very active role in interpreting the religious and profane texts. Not much mentioned along the medieval ages encompassing practically a period of a thousand years, in the New Age, especially after Renaissance and Reform, hermeneutic method played a key role in the reinterpretation of the Sacred Texts. In the eighteenth century, the natural sciences virtually monopolized the science by using the “explanation” method and the social sciences retreated to the background. As a consequence, hermeneutics was left aside and not mentioned at all till the end of the nineteenth century. It was not until Wilhelm Dilthey, the most significant theoretician of the discipline called Geisteswissenschaftlicen Hermeneutik, came up with the “understanding” method as opposed to “explanation” method, and hence hermeneutics reappeared in the historical scene. This paper will deal with Schleiermacher as an educator and discuss his teaching method in the context of the application of the hermeneutical method to education.

Academic research paper on topic "The Case of Schleiermacher In The Context Of Hermeneutic Method In Education"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 55 (2012) 531 - 538

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NEW HORIZONS IN EDUCATION

INTE2012

The Case Of Schleiermacher In The Context Of Hermeneutic

Method In Education

Associate Professor Mehmet Faik YILMAZa*

aYildiz Technical University, Faculty of Education, Head of the Department of the Primary School Teaching

Abstract

Very wide range of methods has been used throughout the history of education. Some of these methods have been long-running and employed for centuries; some of them occupied a significant place in the history of education only for a certain period of time and some of them have been frequently in and out of sight in the historical scene. Hermeneutic method, which is also known as a form of interpretivist method, whilst having experienced very functional periods throughout the history of science, also have seen certain periods in which it was not much mentioned and even fall into oblivion.

Having taken its name from Hermes who was believed to be a messenger between the gods of the ancient Greek Mythology and the human beings, Hermeneutics experienced a very functional period in the ancient Greek philosophy and literature and played a very active role in interpreting the religious and profane texts. Not much mentioned along the medieval ages encompassing practically a period of a thousand years, in the New Age, especially after Renaissance and Reform, hermeneutic method played a key role in the reinterpretation of the Sacred Texts.

In the eighteenth century, the natural sciences virtually monopolized the science by using the "explanation" method and the social sciences retreated to the background. As a consequence, hermeneutics was left aside and not mentioned at all till the end of the nineteenth century.

It was not until Wilhelm Dilthey, the most significant theoretician of the discipline called Geisteswissenschaftlicen Hermeneutik, came up with the "understanding" method as opposed to "explanation" method, and hence hermeneutics reappeared in the historical scene.

This paper will deal with Schleiermacher as an educator and discuss his teaching method in the context of the application of the hermeneutical method to education.

©2012PublishedbyElsevierLtd.Selectionand/or peer-reviewunderresponsibilityofTheAssociationofScience, EducationandTechnology

E-mail address: mfaikyilmaz@hotmail.com

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of The Association of Science, Education and Technology doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.09.533

Keywords: Education, hermeneutic method, hermeneutics, Dilthey, Schleiermacher.

1. Main text

Introduction

It would be proper to inform the reader about the life and thought of Schleiermacher, before we get started on this paper named "The Case of Schleiermacher in the Context of the Hermeneutic Method in Education".

One of the famous thinkers of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher, was born on October 21, 1768 in Breslau, Poland and died on February 12, 1834 in Berlin. The German philosopher is a theologian and also a philologist. He laid the foundations of the Protestant Theology and made a systematical interpretation of the Christian dogmas in his book named Der Christliche Glaube / The Christian Faith.

Approximately in 1925-55, the theological ideas of Schleiermacher which had been influential during the nineteenth century was criticized harshly by a group named "The Word of God" which was led by Karl Barth ve Emil Brunner on the grounds that his ideas created a religion depended on the human culture rather than the absolute truth. However, the importance of the contributions of these ideas have begun to be better understood recently (Yilmaz, 2003, 104).

According to Schleiermacher, hermeneutics is the art of understanding the meaning of another person's words correctly. That means building a bond between the person one understands and the third person to whom the thing that one understood was transmitted to (Berger, 1999, 14; Schleiermacher, 1977, 11). As opposed to the former theoreticians, Schleiermacher problematized the question of understanding another person and rendered it a general problematic about knowledge by dealing with intent rather than reality and appealing to intuition rather than research. His analyses depend on examples from Bible or Classical Antiquity and for all that his attempt remains to be a bit theological still (Freund, 1997, 30).

At the beginning, the hermeneutical techniques had been developed to overcome the difficulties or failures in understanding the obscure or apparently incoherent passages which takes place mostly in religious texts. Schleiermacher thought our seeing neither an obscurity nor incoherence in a text is not a clue that our interpretation was correct. Potentially, understanding is always open to misunderstanding. We can't get anywhere as long as we acknowledge that the familiar words bear the same meaning as they are understood by us in daily usage when they take place in a historical text. As Linge claims, misunderstanding can naturally occur because of the changes in the meanings of words and worldviews which have occurred in the period that set apart the writer from the interpreter. These historical changes bring forth a trap which will make the understanding inevitably difficult, unless the consequences of these changes are neutralized. Thus, we appeal to hermeneutical rules not only when we confront difficulties, but also whenever we attempt to understandanyhing (West, 1998, 121).

The essential contribution of Schleiermacher to the formation of a hermeneutical approach is his attempt to investigate the conditions for the possibility of valid interpretation and to develop a new concept of understanding by relying on the legacy of the former transcendental philosophy and romanticistic movement. According to Schleiermacher, while a literary text belongs to the entire works of the author (objective factors of the texts), the peculiar meaning of the text depends on the subjectivity of the author at the moment of creation (subjective factors of the text). He thinks that understanding is a creative reformulation and reconstruction acting in a circular and dialectial flow, since it always contains a formerly known appeal. This approach to understanding anticipates the concept of hermeneutische zirkel (hermeneutical circle), which in future will be one of the main

concepts of the hermeneutical approach. Having distinguished two types of interpretation, grammatical and phsychological, and having tried to determine the particular laws of these two types, Schleiermacher has been interested only in understanding and interpreting the text yet, but he has also claimed that the true object of understanding is a text which is to be understood and deciphered, an idea which will be influential along the whole development of the hermeneutical thought (Goka, 1993, 86; Goka, Topfuoglu, Aktay, 1996, 28-29.).

Schleiermacher's hermeneutical circle approach can be outlined in three steps: (1) In order to reach the meaning of a text, one has to place it in the entire works of the author, in the same way as one has to place each word in the context of the entire work. (2) Likewise, one has to place the works of the author in the relevant literary genres and gradually in the whole literature. This is the objective aspect of the matter. (3) On the other hand, the interpreter has to determine the place of the same text in the spiritual life of the author as an expression of a moment of the creative process. Thus, according to Schleiermacher, when the circle containing the objective and subjective dimensions were completed and thus the "hermeneutic circle" was formed, only then it would be possible to reachthe meaning (Kasaboglu, 1992, 61).

The Development of the Hermeneutic Method since the New Age

With the Renasaissance, the interpretation and its rules had gained a new dimension and as a consequence the language, life conditions and nationality concept of the classical, Christian Mediaeval Ages had been fully changed. Thus, the interpretation shifted to a a new area different than the former one in Rome where its function was interpreting the Bible and it began to be employed to interprete another spiritual life through grammatical, objective and historical researches. This new philology, polymati and critique usually had to work with only small pieces of information. So these new sciences had to change into a new type and become creative and constructive. Therefore philology, hermeneutics and the critical science approach rose to a higher position. Last four hundred years have witnessed a very broad hermeneutical literature. Classical and sacred texts were powers to be gathered, so hermeneutics formed two movements. Classical and philological prescription was described as the art of critique (ars critica). The then-uncompleted works of Scioppius, Clerius ve Valerius manifested themselves in this period. These works gave the hermeneutical teaching of art in their first chapters. Countless writers and speakers wrote and talked about interpretation (de interpretatione). However, in the final analysis, the construction of hermeneutics was indebted to the interpretation of the Bible. The most important and perhaps the essential one among these works was Key (Clavis) which was written by Flacius and oublished in 1567 (Dilthey, 1924,317).

The rules of interpretation which had been discovered and then reached the climax up to that time were brought together in a teaching structure. So, with these rules, artistic method had to acquire universality as a means of the postulate. This rule-based point of view that shaped hermeneutics raised the awareness of Flacius through the discussions of sixteenth century. He had to struggle in two fronts. One of these fronts was the authorities of restorated Catolicism, who claimed that there was no ambiguity in Bible. Having learned much, especially from the interperetations of Calvin, Flacius objected to these ideas. This interpretation of Calvin was a return to its foundations rather than merely interperation. For a Lutherian of that time, the most important mission was to refute the traditional teaching of Catolicism which had been recently formulated. The Catholic tradition which determined the interpretation of the Bible opposed to the rules of interpretation which was adopted by Protestants to interpret the Bible only on the grounds that it was impossible to deduct universal and sufficient interpretations from the sacred text. Some time after the publication of the works of Flacius, Bellarmin, the Catholic representative in the Trieste Concile, published an essay opposing severely to the idea that the Bible interprets itself in 1581 and tried to prove the necessity of the tradition. In the context of these discussions, Flacius attempted at raising the rules of interpretation into the universal rules of hermeneutics. In order to bring these efforts to conclusion, means and

rules which had never been used in any hermeneutical study before were developed. The interpreter will be in need of an elavatory means, if he confronts a difficulty in a text. These are the sacred texts formed in the context of the living Christian piety. We translate this from the dogmatical cast of mind into our way of thinking. This hermeneutical value which is the experience of this piety is only the principle of particular events. Therefore, in each method of interpretation, the interpretation itself is a factor derived from the objective context. However there is a rational rule of interpretation besides this religious rule of interpretation. Grammatical interpretation is the next one. However Flacius underlines that the physchological and technical rule of interpretation should be interpreted according to the composition of certain parts and the entire text and also the aim of the work. And the studies on the re-organization of Aristotelian Rhetoric were conducted by Melanchthon. Flacius was conscious of the necessity to consider some parts and elements of the text according to the context, aims, proportion and equality which was inherent in them in order to determine the monosemy of the text by this means. Therefore he adds the hermeneutical value to the viewpoint of his methodical teaching itself. "Just like the parts of a whole hold their own understanding in their relationship with this whole and the other parts of it." He starts with the inner form of an object, then proceeds to its style and the elements of influence and develops the fine characteristics of the Pavlusian and Johannesian style. This was a great step within the scope of the rhetorical understanding. Melanchthon and Flacius claim that each text is written and understood according to certain rules. This resembles a logical automat by which the text is transformed into the figures of style, form and speech (Dilthey, 1924, 318).

The deficiencies of Flacius' work were overcomed in the hermeneutics of Baumgarten which was developed much after. Baumgarten accomplished in his work a second great theological and hermeneutical movement. Owing to the information supplied by Baumgarten from a Halle library, not only the Dutch interpreters and English free thinkers but also the interpreters who expounded the Bible in a German framework rather than as an ethnological work apperad in the field. Semler and Michaelis got contact with him and joined his researches. Michaelis applied the uniform outlook of language, history, natura and law to the interpretation of the Old Testament. Semler, predecessesor of the Great Christian Baur, destroyed the uniformity of the interpretation of the Old Testament text and started a proper study. In this way he tried to understand each Holy Scripture according to its own local character. He then bound these Holy Scriptures together and formed a new unity. With this unity, he put the the oldest Christian-Jews conflict in the living historiografies in order. In the preliminary phase of the theological hernemeneutics, he divided the whole science into two parts resolutely: Interpretation based upon the usage of language and interpretation based upon the historical situations. In this way, interpretation was freed from dogmatism and the grammatical and historical schools were founded. Careful and sophisticated genious of Ernesti formed a new hermeneutics for the interpreters of the classical texts (Dilthey, 1924, 319).

Contributions of Schleiermacher to the Hermeneutical Method

Schleiermacher developed his own hermeneutics from his readings. These developments formed within the precise limits. Compositions and thoughts were formed by these interpreters according to the conditions of the time of each text within the frame of local and temporal visions. According to this pragmatical understanding of history, the human nature seen as consisting of equal religious and ethical aspects was confined only outwardly, locally and temporally. The human nature is not historical.

Up to that time, classical and Biblical hermeneutics acted in unison. Didn't these two practices have to be understood generally? In 1757 Meier took this step with his book named An Essay on a General Art of Interpretation. He tried to generalize the concepts of his own scientific field. It was necessary to develop rules from the signs which can be followed in each interpretation. However this book once again indicated that it was impossible to form a new science according to this architectural and symmetrical point of view. Only thing that this point of view could generate were

blind windows that nobody could enter in. A very influential hermeneutics could only be generated by an attitude of mind that had brought the mastery of philological interpretation and the real philosophical talent together. He was Schleiermacher who had such a mind (Dilthey, 1924, 320).

Under what conditions did Schleiermacher work? His interpretation of the art works of Winckelmann, Herder's ability to understand the spirit of the ages and societies cognitively, Heyne's, Friedrich August Wolf's and his students' (among whom Heindorf carried out Platonic studies in a close contact with Schleiermacher) introducing a new aesthetical point of view to the philological studies—all these conditions together bound Schleiermancher to the experience of the German Transcendantal Philosophy. The idea of returning to an ability given in subconscious and the impact of this association unwittingly revealed the whole form of our inner world and from the association of these two moments emerged a particular art of interpretation and the grounding of the scientific hermeneutics.

Up to that time, Hermeneutics was at least a structure of rules. Its parts and own rules were linked together by the aim of a universal interpretation. Hermeneutics had some functions classifying the interpretation into certain parts grammatically, historically, aesthetically, rhetorically and objectively. For centuries, Hermeneutics had raised awareness about how the functions of the rules stemming from philological mastery should operate. Now Schleiermacher had returned again to these rules in order to analyze the understanding. In this way, in order to understand this movement itself, he deduced from this understanding the potentiality, means, limits and rules of the universal interpretation. However he expressed that the understanding which he defined as imitating, constructing and planning could only be analyzed if there is a living relationship between the method and the literary product. An influential work emerges from this creative method and thus it recognizes the necessary condition for another method to be understood. We can understand the author's state of mind from his aim, in the same way as we understand the whole of a work from its style (Dilthey, 1924, 324).

Therefore, a new historical-phsycological outlook was required for the solution of the problem. In this context, we tried to find out what is mentioned here by tracing the formation of hermeneutics as an artistic teaching of a certain kind of literary product between the Ancient Greek interpretation and rhetoric. However the concepts of these two methods always remained historical and logical. The categories in which these ideas realized were continuous practices, logical context, logical order and the dressing of these logical products with style, speaking figures and pictures. Now very new concepts are used to understand a literary product. This ability which contains integrity and creativity accepts the firstly expressed ideas and shapes them without being aware of its own influence and creativity. Receiving and forming spontaneously these ideas are the integral parts of it. Here, individuality manifests itself in each word. The inner and outer form of a literary work is the highest expression of it. Now, in order to understand this work, an unceasing requirement occurs: The necessity to confine one's own individuality because of the opinions of the other people. Understanding and interpretation is constantly active in life. They fulfill their development in the artistic interpretations of the crucial works and in the minds of writers themselves. This is a new perspective formed in Schleiermacher's mind in a different manner.

However there was a one more condition required for this great leap forward of the general hermeneutics. This historical-phsychological outlook was developed by Schleiermacher and his friends together with the philological art of interpretation. The German Spirit of Schiller, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Schlegel brothers ceased to be a poetical literary product and turned out to be the understanding of the historical world. This was a powerful movement. Bockh, Dissen, Welcker, Hegel, Ranke and Savigny joined this movement. Friedrich Schlegel became the pioneer of Schleiermacher in the philological art. The concepts which was used by Schlegel in his brilliant works on The Greek Poetry, Goethe and Boccaccio, shed light on the inner style of the work, the developmental history of the author and every fields of literature. The particular success of this

profoundly-constructed philological art stemmed from the scientific critique. Art of critics (Ars critica) must have been founded upon the theory of these generated literary abilities, as mentioned briefly in Schleiermacher's "Hermeneutics and Critique (Hermeneutik und Kritik)" (Dilthey, 1924, 324).

First of all, Schlegel developed a scheme for the translation of Plato. It was followed by the founding of the new interpretation technique which will firstly be applied to Pindar by Bockh and Dissen. According to this technique Plato had to be understood as an artist of philosophy. The aim of this interpretation is to create coherence between the Platonic philosophical character and the artistic form of the Platonic works. At that time philosophy is still a living phenomenea united with speech. Its literary formation is necessary for only remembrance. It should be a dialogue in an artistic form. Philosophy is in need of a living connection of thinking to continue reproducing itself. According to this Platonic thought which has also a firm integrity in itself, each dialogue should involve the background of the event, organize its aftermath and continue forming the various parts of the philosophy. If we follow this relationship of the dialogue, then the connection of the sources are formed which will reveal the undermost inner aim of Plato. Schleiermacher claims that Plato can only be understood after the connection which is formed artistically. With regard to this, in the chronological order of his works a disconnection might occure or the connection might become less important. In his famous critique (Rezension), Bockh claims that this work on Plato is a masterpiece in the science ofphilology.

Such a philological mastery and a philosophical talent first came together in the genious of Schleiermacher. In this success, the solution of the hermneutical problem and the transcendental philosophy which offers an adequate means for all the texts played a great part. So hermeneutics as a general science and an art ointerpretation emerged.

In the fall of 1804, Schleiermacher developed the first scheme of hermeneutics from the Ernestian interpretive readings. So he wanted to start the interpretation lectures in the University of Halle. We had only an ineffective form of this hermeneutics. It was Bockh who was his student in the University of Halle that brought the required influence to his hermeneutics in the wonderful part of his lectures on the encyclopedia of philosophy (Dilthey, 1924, 332).

In conjunction with another development, I would like to quote some sentences which seem to me essential from the hermeneutics of Schleiermacher. The interpretation of each literary work can only be fulfilled by the method of understanding which was formed artistically. It extends to all aspects of life and contains all types of speech and writing. Accordingly the analysis of understanding is essential for the rulemaking in interpretation. However this can only be associated with the analysis of the literary works. The relationship between the understanding and fruition which determines the means and limits of interpretation can only help to form the connection of the rules.

The potentiality of emerging of a universal interpretation can only be generated from the nature of understanding. The characters of the interpreter and the author of the text do not confront each other since they are uncomprable facts. This two facts lie in the foundation of the general human nature. Therefore, the collectivity of human is only possible with speaking and understanding. Here we can once again explain the expressions of Schleiermacher phsycologically. Ultimately, all differences depend on the differences stemming from the essential mental conditions of different people rather than the qualitative differences. However, the interpreter can succeed in emphasizing and strengthening the mental conditions in effect, leaving behind the others and embedding the imitation of the foreign lifes in himself, if he practices and places his own vitalness into an historical environment.

This logical aspect of the interpretation which we have expressed in our logical terminology is founded in the coeffect of induction, in the application of general truths to the particular situtiations

and in the comparative method. The last thing to do is to determine the particular forms, fulfill the logical operations aforementioned and recognize the connections.

Here the main difficulty common in all arts of interpretation becomes evident. It is supposed to understand whole of the work from each word and their connections, however understanding the "part" depens on understanding the "whole". This cycle repeats itself in the relationship between the work, the development and mood of its author and the literary genre to which it belongs. Schleiermacher best analyzed this problem in his work, "The Introduction to the Republic of Plato". I came across different examples of the same method in his lecture notes on interpretation. DHe started his lecture with the summary of the chapter which might be compared to a slapdash reading. This introduction involved the entire context, including the main lines. He shed light to the difficulties. In everywhere that informs us about composition, he stopped and contemplated. Then the real interpretion began. □ Theoretically, we see here the limits of all possible interpretations which to some extent perform their function. So understanding everything is impossible because it is a relative thing and it never ends.

Schleiermacher refused to divide the method of interpretation to four categories (grammatical, historical, aesthetical and objective) as it was practiced before him. If the interpretion has begun and been capable of having an impact on each category, then this division only points out to the realization of the grammatical, historical, aesthetical and objective cognition. However, the method of interpretation itself can be divided to two categories which serve to deduct from the things inherent in the lenguistical signs a mental creativity. Grammatical interpretation goes from context to context and continues until the highest connection in the whole of the text is established. Psychological interpretation starts with the formation of the inner creative process, proceeds with the inner and outer form of the work and finally records the development and mood of the author creating the coherence of the work (Dilthey, 1924, 336).

It is just the point where Schleiermacher masterfully brought the art of interpretation. In his teaching, the inner and outer form is essential. Especially, the general theory of the literary products bears a profound meaning, in the same way as Organon has an important place in the history of literature.

The highest aim of the hermeneutical method is to understand the author better than himself. Imagine a sentence that the coherence of its teaching has been come into existence from an unconscious creating.

Now we have arrived at the conclusion, which says understanding is only possible with an interpretation which reached universality against the language monuments. If hermeneutics is conscious of the philological interpretation method and the causes of truthfulness; when the practical use of this discipline is compared with a living exercise, it can't have a great impact, as Friedrich August Wolf has rightly criticized. However, besides this practical use, it seems to me that, the second and even the most important duty of interpretation is grounding the universality of interpretation theoretically in a historical perspective against the persistent pressure of skeptical subjectivity, because the reliability of history completely depends on this. When the teaching of interpretation is recognized as the logical and methodological teaching of the human sciences in the context of the theory of knowledge (Erkenntnistheorie); then it becomes an important link between historiography and philosophy. In other words, it becomes the essential supplementary and grounding element of human sciences (Dilthey, 1924, 317).

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Acknowledgements

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