The Hermeneutic Tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur

The Hermeneutic Tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur

The Hermeneutic Tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur

The Hermeneutic Tradition: From Ast to Ricoeur

Excerpt

I know not what to say to it; but experience makes it manifest, that so many interpretations dissipate the truth, and break it . . . Who will not say that glosses augnient doubts and ignorance, since there is no book to be found, either human or divine, which the world busies itself about, whereof the difficulties are cleared by interpretation. The hundredth commentator passes it on to the next, still more knotty and perplexed than he found it. When were we ever agreed among ourselves: "this book has enough; there is now no more to be said about it?" . . . do we find any end to the need of interpreting? is them, for all that, any progress or advancement toward peace, or do we stand in need of any fewer advocates and judges? . . . Imere is mom ado to interpret interpretations than to interpret things; and more books upon books than upon any other subject; we do nothing but comment upon one another. Every place swarms with commentaries . . . Is it not the common and final end of all studies? Our opinions are grafted upon one another, the first serves as a stock to the second, the second to the third, and so forth . . .

--Michel de Montaigne, Essays

The "Experience" of Interpretation: "them am only interpretations . . ."

Montaigne's comments on interpretation, cited here, appear in an essay entitled Of Experience." In this essay, Montaigne begins with an allusion to Aristotle's famous dictum: "All men by nature desire to know." Montaigne writes: "Tbere is no desire more natural than that of knowledge. We try all ways that can lead us to it; where reason is wanting, we therein employ experience." What follows this paraphrase is a gloss; it is an interpretation of the thought that opens Aristotle's Metaphysics, introducing the single, very complex theme which, momentarily, orders Montaigne's musings. In short, the gloss "interprets" Aristotle while it simultaneously . . .

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