Huang Yufeng (Bio)

The Divinatory and the contemporaneity: different thoughts of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard on hermeneutics

In this paper, I would like to investigate into the similarities and differences of these two thinkers on hermeneutics especially regarding to two important concepts respectively: one is Schleiermacher’s divinatory interpretation; another is Kierkegaard’s contemporaneity. Not only do these two concepts criticize traditional hermeneutic methods (especially philological and exegetic methods), but they are also heading toward a more existential understanding of hermeneutics. In fact, the divinatory can be regarded as a kind of contemporaneity which on the one hand identifies the temporal (historical) distance that has been proposed by the grammatical interpretation, while it, on the other hand, negates the distance in a mysterious and secret way. However, Kierkegaard might regard this approach as a leap in the first immediacy that merely focuses on the “whatness” instead of the “howness”. Instead, Kierkegaard emphasizes on the second immediacy in which the relationship depends not on the content but on how one relates himself or herself with something (this something could be God, biblical texts or deeds of prophets). At last, there might be a convergence on breaking down the hermeneutics circle by Schleiermacher’s divinatory interpretation and Kierkegaard’s contemporaneity respectively. Through the former, the hermeneutics circle might be collapsed in a perfect understanding. Through the latter, the hermeneutic circle might end up with an eluding understanding which necessarily demands and inevitably enables an endless play between the writing and the author/reader. This breaking down is not to break the hermeneutic circle, but is parallel to the opening up of it.