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Back lit man with circles of light.

Hermeneutical Circle

For every question already has some direction, and we could hardly ask about anything unless we had at least some idea of what we were asking about: yet we would not trouble to ask about anything unless it were something that we did not know about...
...for interpretation could get started only if we already had some understanding of what is to be interpreted, whilst there would be no point in any interpretation unless our initial understanding were filled out, corrected and perhaps very much altered in the course of the interpretation.

John Macquarrie (1968)


Maybe you have come across this unwieldy beast, the hermeneutical circle: circles have no beginning. Heidegger exhumed this phrase out of the cryptic depths of theology. That is where he had started his academic career, later changing to philosophy. Traditionally this was a theological circle referring to the way we need to consider any part of a text as belonging in a greater whole, maybe a book, however, the whole is made up of those parts; round and round we go. Heidegger takes this idea and adapts it to a fundamentally philosophical problem. Unless we want to know something new why bother to inquire, but if we do not already know in which direction to look how can we inquire. Here there is an echo of an old problem: how can we ever come to know anything new? The photographer mirrored. The page on 'Emergence' is concerned with this idea. How do we come to see what we see? How can something come out of nothing? Yacht on the Minch. A page about nothing, well more about the problem of what does it mean to be?

The quotes are taken from his clear and precise little (60 pages) book Martin Heidegger published by Lutterworth, London. p.6 and p.9. Together with Edward Robinson, Macquarrie published the first and still authoritative version of Heidegger’s Being and Time, so he ought to understand more than most people of Heidegger’s troublesome, but thought provoking, ramblings. Macquarrie was a minister in the Church of Scotland, then Episcopal Bishop of New York, and later a professor of divinity at Oxford University.

Heidegger uses this concept in his explication of human being, which offers an excuse for the photograph. Instructively circles are rare in nature, mostly occurring in human creations or when, as in this case, these creations interact with nature.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 6th February 2021

Murphy on duty to this site