Phil4220W Hermeneutics

Dr. Janet Donohoe

Spring 2009


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.


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.


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 9:00-11:00a.m., M, F 12:00-1:00pm

Office: TLC2250

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



E. D. Hirsch, Jr.                     “In Defense of the Author”

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

Antonin Scalia                     “Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System: The Role of the United States                                                      Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitution and Laws”

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

Michel Foucault                   “What is an Author?”

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





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

9              What is Hermeneutics?

12           Schleiermacher                    HR 72-85

14           Schleiermacher                    HR 86-97

16           Schleiermacher

21           Husserl                                   HR 165-186

23           Husserl

26           Husserl

28           Heidegger                              HR 214-227

30           Heidegger


2              Heidegger                              HR 228-240

4              Heidegger

6              Heidegger

9              Bultmann                              HR 241-248

11           Bultmann

13           Gadamer                               TM 265-276

16           Gadamer                               TM

18           Gadamer                               TM 277-306

20           Gadamer                               TM

23           Gadamer                               TM

25           Gadamer                               TM 307-323

27           Gadamer                               TM


2              Gadamer                               TM 324-345

4              Gadamer                               Midterm Exam

6              Gadamer                               TM 346-380

9              Gadamer                               TM (paper abstract due)

11           Gadamer                               TM 346-380

13           Gadamer                               TM

16-21     Spring Break

23           Hirsch                                    “In Defense of the Author”

25           Hirsch

27           Hirsch                                    (rough draft due)

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


1              Honors Convocation          Class cancelled

3              Weberman                           

6              Weberman

8              Foucault                                “What is an Author?”

10           Foucault                                (Paper Due)

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

15           Farber

17           Scalia                                     “Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System”

20           Scalia

22           Gadamer                               “The Artwork in Word and Image”

24           Gadamer

27           Concluding discussion

29           Review


Final exam is Wednesday, May 6, 11am-1pm.