Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Remote students
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Course Description: 

Hermeneutics is a strain in German philosophical thinking according to which the concepts of understanding and interpretation are as central to our grasp of the world as is the concept of knowledge. In this sense, it stands as a kind of rival to epistemology as traditionally conceived.  In its 20th century versions, it also inclines toward holism and pluralism. Its attention to certain kinds of objects such as texts and artworks means that categories such as intention and context figure centrally.  One key question is this: Is there only one correct way to understand and interpret things? This question touches on debates related to certain versions of relativism. We will read Schleiermacher, Heidegger and Gadamer and my own writing on the subject.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, participants should be able to explain the problems dealt with in hermeneutics and the way in which its conceptual framework differs from epistemology. Participants should also be to present and assess the positions taken on these issues by thinkers in the Heideggerian and Gadamerian tradition


Regular attendance, preparation, and participation in discussion for all. For all students: 1) One 15-minute class presentation (ungraded).  For grade-takers 2) One 2,000-word term paper. 80% of final grade based on term paper, 20% on class participation. An A grade requires a clear, focused and somewhat original paper. [There is an optional mid-term take-home essay exam. It can count for 20% of your grade, and then the term paper for only 60%.]



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