Is Hermeneutics Realistic?
On the Normative Orientation toward Plurality
Significant proponents of both postmodern and realistic hermeneutics suggest that our efforts to understand are better when they involve a plurality of interpretative perspectives. The author of this essay argues, however, that a realist approach can provide a more persuasive reason for this orientation toward plurality. Postmodern approaches in hermeneutics suggest that we should pursue a plurality of interpretations to help us break free from the influence of reductive interpretations inherited from the past. Yet, this normative orientation runs the risk of a proliferation of interpretations that leaves us in hermeneutical isolation from one another. A realistic hermeneutics, by contrast, suggests that we should pursue a plurality of interpretations because the matters of mutual concern to us are, in and of their own reality, plural. This realistic reason to pursue a plurality of interpretations does not silo us from one another but, on the contrary, reminds us of the need for conversation that allows us to address our shared world of matters of mutual concern.
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