Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher

Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings.


"In terms of the well-known etymology hermeneutics can be regarded as a name which is not yet fixed in a scientific manner: a) the art of presenting one's thoughts correctly, b) the art of communicating someone else's utterance to a third person, c) the art of understanding another person's utterance correctly."1a

"Even within a single text the particular can only be understood from out of the whole, and a cursory reading to get an overview of the whole must therefore precede the more precise explication."1b

"The divinatory method is the one in which one, so to speak, transforms oneself into the other person and tries to understand the individual element directly. The comparative method first of all posits the person to be understood as something universal and then finds the individual aspect by comparison with other things included under the same universal. The former is the female strength in knowledge of people, the latter the male. Both refer back to each other . . ."1c


"If we consider the expression criticism etymologically, then two things come into consideration, on the one hand, that criticism is in some sense a court of judgment, on the other, that it is a comparison."1d

"The universal presupposition of conversation is the identity between thought and word. All understanding rests on this."1e

" . . . [A]ll operations of criticism are determined by the emergence of the suspicion that something is there which should not be. Where there is no such suspicion no critical procedure can be begun either."1f

General Hermeneutics

"The goal of hermeneutics is understanding in the highest sense.
Lower maxim: one has understood everything that one has really grasped without encountering contradiction. Higher maxim: one has only understood what one has reconstructed in all its relationships and in its context. -- To this also belongs understanding the writer better than he understands himself."

Schematism and Language

" . . . [T]he relation of a particular image to a general image cannot be a mistake. For this relationship is the truth."1h


* Italics in the original.

1 Friedrich Schleiermacher. (1768-1834). Hermeneutics And Criticism and Other Writings. Translated and Edited by Andrew Bowie. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
a Introduction, at 5.
b Ibid., at 27.
c Psychological Explication, at 92-93.
d Criticism, at 158.
e Ibid., at 167.
f Ibid., at 170.
General Hermeneutics
g Introduction, at 228.
Schematism and Language
h At 275.