Phil4220W Hermeneutics

Dr. Janet Donohoe

Spring 2011


1.  Learning Outcomes: The aim of this course is to examine critically the historical development of the discipline of hermeneutics.  Hermeneutics is the art and theory of interpretation.  We will investigate various approaches to interpretation as presented by philosophers ranging from Schleiermacher through Heidegger to Ricoeur.  By the end of the semester students will be able to:



2.  Requirements: The requirements for the class are sixfold.


a) attendance and class participation                                                             10%

b) in-class midterm exam                                                                                  25%

c) Paper abstract with thesis and outline                                                         5%

d) Paper rough-draft                                                                                           10%

e) 2100-3000 word paper                                                                                  25%

f) final exam                                                                                                        25%


In order to meet these requirements, it will be necessary to attend class regularly and to do the assigned reading.  It will be evident if you have not done the reading and this will not be beneficial to your success in the course.  Papers absolutely will not be accepted after the due date unless you have discussed it with me prior to the due date.  No paper will be accepted if a rough draft was not handed in.


Primarily, your term paper should be focused on a text or texts that we have discussed in class.  The goal is for you to express your own understanding and analysis of a text or texts.  If you want to do research into secondary sources, the best way to do so is to consult the Philosopher’s Index to see what kinds of articles might have been published that would be pertinent to your issue.  I would highly recommend that you not rely on the Web to get information on your issue.  Web sources are notoriously unreliable and can often be overly simplistic in their presentation of any philosophical view.  Scholarly articles and books are the best sources to consult.  Be sure that if you consult any secondary sources that you cite those sources.  Failure to do so can have dire results. 


The Department of English and Philosophy defines plagiarism as taking personal credit for the thinking of others as it is presented in electronic, print, and verbal sources.  The Department expects that students will accurately credit sources in all assignments.  Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course and may result in further consequences of being expelled from the University.


Any student wishing to receive honors credit for this course must get the approval of the professor and complete all the necessary paperwork within the first two weeks of class. No honors forms will be signed after this point.


3.  Availability: I am available outside of class during office hours, or by appointment.  If there are questions or problems, do not hesitate to see me.


Hours: M, W, F 9:00-10:00a.m., M,W,  F 12:00-1:00pm

Office: TLC2230

Phone: 678-839-4743



4.  Book List: The books listed below should be available in the bookstore.  Course readings will also be made available through the library Docutek system.  Password: Hermeneutics.


The Hermeneutics Reader                                                  ed.Kurt Mueller-Vollmer

Truth and Method                                                               Hans-Georg Gadamer




“Whose Home is it Anyway? A Feminist Response to Gadamer’s Hermeneutics” by Robin Schott

“Gadamer’s Hermeneutics and the Question of Authorial Intention” by David Weberman

“The Originalism Debate: A Guide for the Perplexed” by Daniel Farber

“What is an Author?” by Michel Foucault

“The Artowrk in Word and Image—‘So true, so full of being!’ (Goethe)” by Hans-Georg Gadamer

“Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology” by Paul Ricoeur






5              Introduction.  Discussion of themes.  Biblical Hermeneutics, Legal Hermeneutics, Aesthetic Hermeneutics.

7              What is Hermeneutics?

10           Class cancelled

12           Class cancelled

14           Class cancelled

17           MLK Day—No Classes

19           Schleiermacher                    HR 72-85

21           Schleiermacher                    HR 86-97

24           Schleiermacher

26           Husserl                                   HR 165-186

28           Husserl  

31           Husserl  


2              Heidegger                              HR 214-227

4              Heidegger

7              Heidegger                              HR 228-240

9              Heidegger

11           Bultmann                              HR 241-248

14           Butlmann                              HR

16           Gadamer                               TM 265-276

18           Gadamer                               TM 277-306

21           Gadamer                               TM

23           Gadamer                               TM

25           Gadamer                               TM 307-323

28           Gadamer                               TM


2              Gadamer                               TM324-341

4              Midterm Exam

7-13        Spring Break

14           Gadamer                               TM 362-380

16           Gadamer                               TM

18           Gadamer                               TM

21           Schott                                    “Whose Home is it Anyway?”

23           Schott

25           Ricoeur                                  “Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology”

28           Ricoeur                                  (Abstract and Outline Due)

30           Weberman                            “Gadamer’s Hermeneutics and the Question of Authorial Intent”


2              Weberman

4              Weberman                            (Rough Draft Due)

7              Foucault                                                “What is an Author?”

9              Foucault

11           Farber                                    “The Originalism Debate”

14           Farber

16           Scalia                                     TBD

18           Scalia                                     (Paper Due)

21           Scalia                    

23           Gadamer                               “The Artwork in Word and Image”

25           Gadamer

28           Review


Final exam is Wednesday, May 4, 11am-1pm.