On the Concept of Auslegung (Interpretation) in Philosophical Hermeneutics

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 7, 2021


On the Concept of Auslegung (Interpretation) in Philosophical Hermeneutics



Hong Handing


Auslegung (interpretation) is a core concept of contemporary philosophical Hermeneutik (hermeneutics). Its essence is the gleichzeitig (the synchronic), rather than the simultaneous, of meaning generation and historically effected events that arise between the text and the Ausleger (interpreter). As an event, Auslegung is a bridge between tradition and modernity, between the unfamiliar and the familiar, and between the foreign and the local; it is an event that is at once inheritance and innovation. Auslegung can be categorized into two kinds of action, long-range and short-range; the short-range is ontological, the long-range methodological. Therefore, the question of Auslegung as a way of existence for Dasein is a short-range one, whereas the specific practical problems of Auslegung are long-range. The latter includes the relationships between Auslegung and meaning, truth, and dialogue, and the limits of Auslegung. How should we understand these issues? Is the meaning of the ausgelegt the intention of the author, the endowment of the reader, or the meaning of the text itself? Is the truth of Auslegung really approachable but never reachable, or is this kind of truth always evolving in different circumstances? In Hegel's words, is the truth of Auslegung the infinity of evil, or the infinity of reality? Does public reason exist? Can consensus be reached? This article proposes some preliminary discussion of these questions.