Prior Conversations

Alberto Romele

Associate researcher, IZEW, University of Tübingen

September, 4th 2021

“Digital Hermeneutics” is Said in Many Ways

Hermeneutics is the discipline that deals with interpretation and understanding. My research in the field of digital hermeneutics stems from the observation that today more and more interpreting and understanding the world depends on the use of techniques and technologies, in particular digital technologies. Sometimes it even happens that it is the technologies themselves that interpret and (perhaps) understand the world for us. Like classical hermeneutics, however, digital hermeneutics is said in many ways. The purpose of my presentation will be precisely to introduce some of these ways. Specifically, I will focus on: digital hermeneutics as a theory of “interpreting machines”; digital hermeneutics as a hermeneutics of the self; and finally, digital hermeneutics as a hermeneutics of digital worldviews.

August, 1st 2021

Architecture and Hermeneutics

The disciplines of urbanism and architecture have gone through a noticeable transformation in recent years. Today we can observe a clear shift both in the nature of discussions within architecture and urbanism and in their relationship with other academic disciplines. Not only are architects and urban planners becoming more receptive and sensitive to philosophy and social theory, but social thinkers and philosophers are becoming increasingly more involved in debates about architecture and the social dimensions of the urban environment. This discussion aims to add to this development through exploring the insights of hermeneutics into architecture and the interactions of urban inhabitants with the built environment.

Brian Treanor

Professor of Philosophy

July, 10th 2021

Environmental Hermeneutics: Interpretation from the Ground Up

Aldous Huxley observed, “in a world where education is predominantly verbal, highly educated people find it all but impossible to pay serious attention to anything but words and notions.” This bias is evident in hermeneutics as well, which remains enthralled by what I refer to as “the metaphor of the text,” the idea that interpretation and understanding are to be understood in terms of reading a text, even in instances in which the “reading” and the “text” are metaphorical. Thus, for example, we speak of “reading” the landscape, or of starting a “new chapter” in one’s life. The metaphor of the text is a powerful one, and it’s given rise to lots of good philosophy. However, if hermeneutics teaches us anything, it is that every “way of seeing” reveals some things and conceals others. The metaphor of the text, while useful, also has some significant blind spots. These blind spots are particularly evident when thinking about the environment or the “more-than-human” world. When we understand nature through the lens of language, we tend to slide into an easy anthropocentrism—the view that human beings, human concerns, and human perspectives are the standard by which everything else is measured and understood. That, however, misses a great deal of what is interesting about our embodied experience of the material world. Rather than limiting hermeneutics to interpretation, we should think of it in terms of perception, orientation, and inclination. When we reflect carefully on our embodied experience of the material world, we find alternative metaphors for understanding that help to correct for the biases of traditional frameworks, metaphors rooted in our embodied experience of the material world.

Annemie Halsema

Associate Professor of Philosophy

June, 5th 2021

Narrative Medicine

On the basis of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics, this presentation argues for considering the interaction between medical professionals and patients as a narrative practice. Even if a physician talks from an external point of view – for instance, in explaining lab results to a patient – she is at the same time in conversation with the patient, addressing the latter as an interlocutor and in this process evoking, co-constituting and receiving first person accounts of the patient’s experience.

Todd Mei

Public Philosopher & Philosophical Consultant

May, 8th 2021

Meaningful Work

Todd Mei discussed the ways in which hermeneutics can help us to better understand how work can be meaningful. He explored the roles of storytelling, virtues, and personal development.

Mootz III, Francis J.

Professor of Law

April, 3rd 2021

What is Sex?

Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect gays, lesbians and transgendered persons from employment discrimination because of "sex"? Can hermeneutical thinking help to resolve legal issues? Can hermeneutical thinkers learn from legal practice?

Richard Kearney

Founder, The Guestbook Project

March, 7th 2021

The Guestbook Project

Richard Kearney talked about the relation of hermeneutics to the Guestbook Project he leads. The project promotes, through the exchange of stories across groups in conflict, "the power of digital storytelling as a means of healing divisions."