You are on page 1of 1

Hermeneutical and Critical Theory

From Synoptic past paper 2012: Outline and discuss the key concepts of both Hermeneutical and Critical Theory A brief introduction: What do we mean by Hermeneutics? Hermeneutics is the art of interpreting. Although it began as a legal and theological methodology governing the application of civil law, canon law, and the interpretation of Scripture, it developed into a general theory of human understanding through the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and Jacques Derrida. Hermeneutics proved to be much bigger than theology or legal theory. The comprehension of any written text requires hermeneutics; reading a literary text is as much a hermeneutic act as interpreting law or Scripture. What do we mean by Critical Theory? Critical Theory has a narrow and a broad meaning in philosophy and in the history of the social sciences. Critical Theory in the narrow sense designates several generations of German philosophers and social theorists in the Western European Marxist tradition known as the Frankfurt School. According to these theorists, a critical theory may be distinguished from a traditional theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human emancipation, to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them (Horkheimer 1982, 244). Some useful links: On Hermeneutics http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/ http://groups.chass.utoronto.ca/iih/AboutHermeneutics.htm http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/wphil/lectures/wphil_theme19.htm http://www.westminster.edu/staff/nak/courses/documents/Gadamer%20Philosophical%20Hermeneuti cs.pdf On Critical Theory http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/ http://people.ucalgary.ca/~rseiler/critical.htm http://www.iep.utm.edu/frankfur/