Philosophical and Psychological Horizons of Post Modern Hermeneutics


We must avoid isolating the problem of sense and reference from the context of the speech events in which they occur; religious language or poetical forms must broaden the effect on a philosophy of language; we must reject cataloging the "forms of transcendental subjectivity" as engaging in a basically taxinomical analysis of "depth structures in consciousness" (the archaeology of knowledge); transforming power of understanding or the self understanding of the interpretation in post-Bultmannian "language events" expressed by theologians Gerhard Ebeling's and Ernst Fuch's attempt to remove hindrances (cf. G. Ebeling "Word of God and Hermeneutics" in his Word and Faith (Fortress, 1963), pp. 305-32; Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader (Johns Hopkins, 1973); message of sacred text—his altering power; dialectical character is implied in the very naming of Hermes in the term hermeneutics. Hermes is the god of boundaries and thus the "mediator" between gods and man (Martin Heidegger, On The Way to Language) Harper, 1971); Hermeneutics, then, implies a mediator between worlds, between latent and manifest worlds, unconscious and conscious, past and present, a foreign tongue and one's own between "higher consciousness" and the consciousness or self-understanding one has now (cf. Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy; An Essay in Interpretation (Yale, 1970); Jacques Lacan, The Language of The Self (Johns Hopkins, 1968).  Paul Recoeur, "Philosophical and Religious Language" Journal of Religion 5JJ (Jan. 197U) 71-85; Hans George Gadamer, "On the Scope and Function of Hermeneutical Reflection" Continuum § (Spr/Sum 1970): 77-95; Karl Otto Apel et al, Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik (Frankfort, 1974, the festschrift for Gadamer's 70th birthday, Hermeneutik und Dialectik, ed. R. Bubner, et al, 2 vols (Tubingen, 1970); Jurgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests (Beacon, 1971) as an example of the impact of hermeneutical thought on theory of scientific interpretation; Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference; On Being and Time; and The End of Philosophy (Harper, 1969, 1972, 1973).


1.0  Hermeneutically, the mediation is described as between the "understanding" one now has and the "new understanding" one could have.  Hermeneutics in its essence, then, is the art of destroying one's present misunderstanding (or limited) of the world.  Since the time of Bacon and Descartes, modern thought has been characterized with encountering "the text" in order to bring the text into the right mode with the self.  Rather, one starts with the fact the "I am" and with the world tat appears to observing consciousness and must be brought in to some kind of order by one's reason. The problem, then, is to develop a tool for distinguishing ideas that are foolish and have no "basis in fact" from those that are true to fact or at least are in themselves clear and distinct which points to' mathematical ideas at the top of the scale, (cf. ontological status of numbers, specifically negative indigers, et. 0-1, -10,-1000, 100 10 etc). It is true that the empiricism of Hume and the modern tradition that stems from it, did take a very different view of the status of Descartes' famous "clear and distinct ideas." Nevertheless, it did not alter the starting point of an observing consciousness as arbiter of all in its world, a consciousness that has 'sensations' and a desire for some principle for allowing one sort of knowledge to be kept as reliable and another to be tossed into the fire.


And Kant took up the challenge of Hume's skepticism about human knowledge. But his solution contained the "modern" view of human reason as autonomous, a kind of king of the world of knowledge, and the modern interpretation problem or that of gaining reliable knowledge. Kant's view was able to refute Hume's skepticism and at the same time not fall into the snare of earlier rationalist idealism, that could deduce from its own premises, that this is the best of all possible worlds. Still Kant, like Descartes and Hume, placed man at the center of a world of phenomena whose meaning was itself the creation of his own imagination.


One may see in the thinking of Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Kant the root assumptions of modern thought, that man stands at the center of a world of which he is the foundation and judge, the subject in that consciousness possesses the ideas, categories, or conceptual tools (methods) by which it takes the measure of the world and assigns to each thing its place, that therefore the aim of knowledge is to bring the world under usefulness for this purpose, that is its "objectivity." The quest for objectivity has continued to dominate Western thought through the 18th and 19th and 20th centuries. But as we have noted, it rests philosophically on the human judging subject and a network of assumptions about knowledge in relation to a judging subjectivity. Se we see that fairly depends on a belief in an assumed structure and status of human subjectivity. The protest against objectivity, which we might call the cryporeligion of the Enlightenment, took the form of upholding the claims of "subjectivity" against the abstractness of raising rationalism and "Newton's sleep". But this does not really take us very far, in that it only serves in the other pole of a subject-object schema that remains rooted in the same primacy of the subject and of consciousness, only now with an expanded sense of the range of consciousness it does not escape the self-enclosed and basically autonomous world of the human subject as the final arbiter of reality.  Already in the early 19th century the stage is set for the despair of Schopenhauer, for the nihilist slogan that "all is permitted," for Nietzsche's assertion that "God is dead", for positivist nominalism, and also for a religion of "progress."


Of course, protests against rationalism and mechanism and deism arose with stridency in the Romantic period, and have continued to the present day. This emphasis appears in the "life philosophies" of Nietzsche, Dilthey, and Bergson, the "living reason" of Ortega; and Un amuno' protest on behalf of the "man of flesh and bone" already in Hegel's reaction against Kant one finds a dialectical manner of thinking that always takes the already given. Understanding as something to be negated thus containing a certain element in hermeneutical thinking—reversal transformation of understanding (cf. Hegel's The Phenomenology of The Mind where each successive level of reflection dialectically encompasses the previous stage.


In Hegel's (1770-1831) fondness for history and his insistence on the mediated character of all knowing, a mediator that allows the known object to "give itself" to perception, one finds already a leap beyond the autonomous meaning giving 'consciousness of that bloodless Kantian (1724-1804) "epistemological subject" (G. W. Hegel, in 'One Philosophy' in G. W. F. Hegel's Art, Religion and Philosophy (ed. J. Glenn Gray (NY: Harper, 1970). Kierkegaard (1813-1855) too reversed the hermeneutical direction in placing man before God and before a scriptural message that placed an absolute demand on him. Kierkegaard's protest against Hegel was really against the metaphysics of idealism, and he himself contained a Hegelian dialectical manner of thought and a Hegelian emphasis on concreteness and immediacy (Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Princeton, University Press, 1941).


Marx (1818-1883) remained distinctly modern in his affirmation of the free-productive human subject, yet there is also suggested a demand for a different base for reflection; actual exploitation and the society shaping impact of the economic structure (D. J. Strunk, ed., The Economic and Philosophic Manuscript of 1844 (NY: International Pub., 1964). Each of these creative shapers of the post modern culture are generally viewed as 'correctives' for an overemphasis on reason. But as such, they fall short of the genuinely postmodern. To take the postmodern turn in one's thinking, one must be willing to call the whole development of modern culture during the past three centuries into question.  It is not postmodern to demand a 'holistic' or 'gestalt' psychology that remains satisfied to encourage the individual to adjust to society as it is. It is postmodern to treat mental illness as a 'myth' and to find in schizophrenia a phenomenon that calls ordinary consciousness into question. It is not postmodern to say that the medium is the message, or to advise us to get ready for a 'future shock' of paper dresses and throwaway toothbrushes.  It is postmodern to call into question the whole scarcity — oriented, manipulative, exploitive, individualistic mindset that dominates modern existence (crucial definition of post modern). Being post modern does not mean that one abandons the rigors of thought. It only means that one is no longer satisfied with the fruits of that development of man which has culminated in modern technological civilization. It means that one has reached that part of turning against accommodation and adjustment and against all confidence that just a little more of this or that humanizing psychology, cleaning up government, teaching 'values' in the abstract, controlling inflation, population or pollution, will solve the crisis that is 'modern' man. For the problem may be precisely his modernity.


Thus it becomes important to know what this modernity means to man as an interpreting being!!!! How does it affect the way he pictures his interpretive situation? How does it effect his conception of the task or function of interpretation? The basic element in Descartes, Hume and Kant mentioned earlier, gives rise to the 'modern' definition of language, understanding, world and man himself. The image of man in Descartes is of a consciousness trapped in a world of extension, the physical world, consciousness frames proportion about the physical world and seeks to validate them. The interpretative situation is not that of man trying to come into relationship with a text, but of man trying to clear his mind of deception.  The object of understanding in modern thought may be a ball of wax, or a billiard ball, or a stone, but the general image is one of consciousness surrounded by "silent objects" as it tries to bring some measure of order into the world through the acquisition of valid knowledge. Language and mathematical symbols take their place as tools for the control of the natural world. The need to control the world is considered self evident, and human thought is ordered to achieve this purpose more efficiently! To exercise one's understanding as defined as coming into general control of the external world through clearer ideas.  Understanding is thus trivialized into the acquisition of true propositions about the world of objects that surrounds man. Man stands essentially alone in the world of nature, for he alone has 'world' and it is he who gives nature the very connection and context in which it can be 'world' at all (contra the Judaeo/Christian Creator/Redeemer God). The world is what man finds as his arena of activity, and he must progressively seek to control it.  "Man" is defined as the creature who can translate the world of nature into language and language is defined as the medium for ordering the world (see my Paradigmatic Revolution from Creation non Linear Physics to Socio/Economic/Political World).


One can see how this flows, from the very project in which Descartes and subsequent modern thought has engaged itself, a definition of man as the center of a universe of his own ideas and of objects which he must understand through reason. From this definition of man the technological definitions of language and of understanding follow quite naturally. The mind is a tool for understanding the world. It is from something like this image of man, and reason and language and world that modern man gets his technological view of understanding (contra God, the origin and center of creation, not secularistic man). Unfortunately this model of understanding is a myth. It leaves several things out, most importantly "other persons." For the world is not made up of 'silent objects' but of 'other persons' for whom the modes of manipulative understanding fall short. It fails most glaringly of course, in the hermeneutical situation, where one confronts, not some natural object that is silent about man and his world and in which one makes 'judgments' about, but rather an 'enworlded', 'embodied,' linguistically mediated other,' namely a text. Yet modern thought has persisted in taking as its central epistemological model a lonely French philosopher seated at his desk contemplating a ball of wax (Descartes (1596-1650). From this has arisen modern subject centered, consciousness-oriented, verifiability-seeking philosophies with their consequent misconception of man, language, and the world, and their technologized conceptions of understanding and interpretation.


The hermeneutical problem, then, offers a contrasting image of the interpretative situation of man in the world, and it offers to philosophical reflection the basis for moving decisively beyond the over simplified modern model of man's relation to language, world and the task of understanding (of. hermeneutics is concerned with how we understand anything, not merely a text).


Philosophical Horizons, the Hermeneutical Maze:


1.1  Philosophy - for the past century and a half, has offered rich resources for a new adequate conception of the hermeneutical situation and the task of interpretation. The philosophical light shed on the hermeneutical problem derives from some who dared to question the basic assumption of modern thought: the lonely Kierkegaard, the iconoclastic Nietzsche; Dilthey with his dream of a 'critique of historical reason;' Heidegger's views on understanding and interpretation in Being and Time (esp. sections 31-34; 42-44; and 76-77).  Also his later remarks on modern subjectivity and technological thinking (cf. Heidegger, "Die zeit des Welt-bills" in Holzwege (Frankfort, 1950); Die Frage nach der Technik" in Vortreege und Aufszetze). and "Der europaeische Nihilismus in Nietzsche (Plullingen, 1961):2.31-256. Ortega's discovery of Dilthey (Jose Ortega y Gesset, "Wilhelm Dilthey and the Idea of Life" in Concord and Liberty (NY: Norton, 1963):129-82; also his demand for a "vital reason"; the Husserl dates of Logical Investigation and especially the Crisis of the European Sciences; the Wittgenstein of The Philosophical Investigations, the Merleau-Ponty dates of the Phenomenology of Perception, but more especially of the Working Notes for The Visible and The Invisible (Evanston, IL, 1968); also John Sallis' excellent work on Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology and the Return to Beginnings (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1973); Lonergan's painstaking distinctions among modes of understanding (Insight (London: Longmans, 1964); Foucault and his "archaeological" exploration of the roots of Modern Thought since the Renaissance and the interconnections between the conceptions of language, the functions of economics, and the forms of scientific knowledge (The Order of Things (NY: Pantheon Books, 1970; and The Archaeology of Knowledge (NY: Pantheon, 1972);


Derrida's critique of Husserlian and Heideggerian ontology as well as the gap between written and spoken word (Derrida, Speech and Phenomenon (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973; De la grammatologie (Paris, 1967); L'ecriture et la difference (Paris, 1967); and Derrida's review of Rousseau in Paul de Man, Blindness and Insight (NY: Oxford, 1971), pp. 102-41); Habermas' Knowledge and Human Interests with its delineation of the way "interest" determine the shape of knowledge; and of course, the work of the explicitly "hermeneutical philosophers." Paul Ricoeur and Hans George Gadamer, these thinkers all contribute to a more complexly differentiated understanding of the post modern hermeneutical problem. All make an important contribution to the development of a post modern hermeneutical self-awareness even though they might question the term "post modern." (There is a paradigmatic revolution between modern and post modern thought).


1.1 In terms of philosophy of interpretation, perhaps the turn to a post modern standpoint is most characteristically marked by a movement beyond objectivity and beyond subjectivity!! (i.e. coming of non-linear physics (New Age Monism, Hinduism, Buddhism). This is achieved in most cases, not by going around phenomenology but through and beyond it. For phenomenology furnishes the philosophical foundation for a convincing critique of objectivity and thus enables one to go decisively beyond the standpoints of Realism and Idealism.  (For this task Husserl's Ideas or Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception suffice.) But it is in the movement beyond "subjectivity" and beyond "philosophies of consciousness" that philosophy of interpretation takes the post modern turn; for in this rejection of the hegonomy (leadership, go on ahead) of consciousness and of subjectivity one goes definitively beyond what is most fundamental to post modern thought (cf. Philip Slater, Earthwake (NY: Garden City, 1974; the novel by Robert Persig, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (NY: Morrow, 1974; Richard E. Palmer, "The Post Modern Turn in Philosophy of Interpretation" Journal of Illinois Speech and Theatre Interpretation Association (Fall, 1974):1-6). The explanation of this step might start with the question of why Heidegger chose not to articulate a philosophy of consciousness or transcendental subjectivity, or the question of what Husserl himself was trying to do in the crisis by articulating the concepts of "Lifeworld" in more social and historical terms, or whether Husserl's turn to transcendental subjectivity was a betrayal of his own earlier thought.


1.10  Three important principles of understanding can be derived from these shapers of post-modern hermeneutics (basic to the new awareness):  (1)  The interpreter is forever beyond all naive assumptions that he is perceiving without his own participative doing, and he rightly includes that doing as part of the whole interpretative situation.  (2) Interpretation is grasped as a mode of relating to the text, and that mode of relation will determine the style and character of the interpretative situation (cf. feminists, black, youth culture, etc.).  (3) Every effort must be made to "detechnologize" (and "detrivalize") one's view of what it is to encounter, receive, and understand a text (cf. these presuppositions enter contemporary theology via Bultmann, et al).


1.11  Nietzsche (18M-1900) and Post Modern Hermeneutics


Nietzsche serves as a clear example of how profoundly the whole framework in which the hermeneutical problem is conceived may be altered by philosophical reflection. Categorically Nietzsche rejects his whole age and the ideals on which it lived. He rejected the epistemological tradition of the contemplative knower and the world that is known to the "epistemological subject" (cf. esp. Book 3 of The Will to Power (see my work "Paradigmatic Revolutions in Logic, Language and Epistemology" in the library). He rejected the idea that there is any firm and logically ordered metaphysical reality beyond the appearances of our world and therefore the idea that we can penetrate phenomenological reality either through clear and distinct ideas or through the Kantian transcendental categories. For "Truth" was something human beings invented in order to designate statements they could depend on as useful in controlling the world (contra technology in post modern culture). Therefore, "truth" was guided by an interest in security; the logical structures one finds in the world are not the firm outlines of the 'real' but the products of man's inventive faculties, the artistry of understanding (cf. demise of Schaeffer's "True Truth" -here is the failure to confront the foundations of its demise). Knowledge is man's great "fictive" faculty and truth his fiction (thing-made-creation) with this metaphysics goes down the drain!  (Cf. Here is the collapse of all forms of classical Christianity (Protestant and Roman Catholic. This position also destroys science) For the hermeneutic, this means that interpretation must go beyond the comfortable assumption of a metaphysical realm of truth. It means that literature (scripture, etc.) cannot reveal metaphysical truths, or "truth" at all, in any normal sense, and it calls into question the whole project of a search for the "truth" beyond appearances. For the interpreter it means going beyond metaphysics. Nietzsche rejected the hegemony of consciousness in philosophy. He articulated a conception of interpretation that referred not to an act of consciousness but to movement of "will to power." He argued that the rational faculty is a "little reason" but the body that contains it is a "great power" with its own purposes (of. Thus Spake Zarathustra BRI - "As the Despisers of The Body". And even these purposes conflict and compete with each other for mastery, so that it makes very little sense to equate a person's 'identity1 in his rational faculty or even his rational will, a human being is not a unitary interpretive consciousness but a plurality.  This calls into question philosophies of "subjectivity" that are based on some kind of unitary conception, but the mind as a unitary interpretative center. One's feelings echo and mirror deeper autonomous cravings of the organism, since in conflict with each other (and thus we have the conflict of feelings with each other), so one cannot speak of the "human subject" so simply.  Consciousness loses its status as the governor of everything, the king of the body, and is itself a follower of other powers within and outside the organism. Just as cells orient themselves as potential sources of nourishment, so the different organisms of the body orient themselves to their situation and set in motion efforts to satisfy instinctive needs.  This orienting process of cells, organs, instincts, and finally the rational faculty, is "interpretation." Every level responds, reacts, orients itself, takes steps to achieve its goals; this is "interpretation." There are in man different centers of interpretation competing with each other, often at the expense of the other centers (cf. Jeen Granier, Le_ probleme de_ la_ Verite dans la philosophic de_ Nietzsche (Paris, 1966, pp. 303-306). The story of the victory of the rational faculty may be the triumph of that faculty's will to deny the life-asserting lower faculties, so that the unqualified victory of rationality will be something like death in life.  This, in fact, is what Nietzsche sees as the case in modern times: a victory of Platonist-Christian metaphysics has created what is ultimately a life denying way of "being in the world" (cf. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil; also M. Heideggers' Nietzsche 1:177-89; God and creation alone can address this dilemma.


Metaphysics, the belief in a realm of eternal logical structures beyond the phenomenal world, is not only false but perniciously life-denying.  Nietzsche's conception of interpretation means that there is always a certain teleology in interpretation, a guiding purpose. The quest for scientific, objective truth is really a disguised search for security through domination of the world. Descartes' (1596-1650) quest for "clear and distinct" ideas, and thereby for "apodectic" knowledge was really a demand for more security that is more control. Such a quest will lead to the kind of knowledge that gives external control of the world precisely because that is its hidden "guiding interest" to use a phrase of Habermas (cf. his Knowledge and Human Interest throughout).


1.12   There are, of course, a variety of potential guiding interests at work in the rational faculty itself, so it would be an oversimplification to suggest the instrumentalizing of knowledge as the sole possibility developed in modern thought. But Nietzsche at least brings forward a vivid sense of the pragmatism of human knowledge (cf. fundamental in the development of John Dewey's Pragmatism (1859-1952) is the demise of subject/object epistemology and coming pluralism of goals without ultimate criteria of selection or direction as the sole possibility developed by modern thought and this robs the modern positivist of any clear grounds for claims about "neutral facts."


1.13  This hermeneutical revolution has brought the death to the "modern view" of knowing as some kind of disinterested contemplation of the world.  The epistemological subject hides what is really an "interested" and actively interpreting subject. The image of some kind of abstract consciousness floating around and contemplatively "knowing" the world is simply a philosophical fiction. As Dilthey observed, in Kant's epistemological subject, there is no real blood; also no real instincts, no knowledge guiding interests.  The Kantian subject did not have a lifeworld, only a set of categories of judgments, for the philosophy of interpretation all this suggests that there is no abstract, presuppositionless, objective knowing; one's knowing is guided by interests, and the hermeneutical challenge is to be critically aware of and reflective about the adequacy and appropriateness of these interests (cf. all knowledge is paradigm oriented; there is no objective presuppositionless knowledge claims. This is not a new insight. The entire Reformed tradition has affirmed this thesis, e.g. Clark, Schaeffer, Henry, Van Til,  Nietzsche's philosophy of art is equally a paradigmatic revolution in aesthetics. Art is the highest expression of the will to power, the creative and active power of man in its highest form (cf. "The Will to Power as Art." in Bk 3 of The Will to Power).


Art renders eternal, not a metaphysical truth but the truth of flux of appearance; but this is the highest truth man can know. It is the antidote to the life denying truths of the rational faculty; man needs art in order not to perish from his own truths (cf. Will to Power, paragraphs 822 and 853).  This swept away the aesthetics that starts with the disinterested pleasure in the contemplation of feelings as expressed in forms. It also does away with the problem of the irrelevance of art to life and truth. The aesthetics of Kant and Schopenhauer were oriented to contemplation, but Nietzsche's concept of knowing as really interpretation already disposed him to approach the question of art from the standpoint of the artist's purpose is creating art. The purpose in approaching it would follow. Nietzsche's rejection of Wagner showed his own distaste for art that is placed in the service of morality, especially Christianity. It also showed his more classical preferences for discipline and strength, not an endless, undisciplined line of melody in a conglomerate art form. For Nietzsche art grows out of fullness of being, from spiritual intoxication, but it does not for that reason lose all form (cf. The Birth of Tragedy (section 2 and paragraph 811, etc., Will to Power). For the interpretation of works of art, this lays a new basis. The issue is art and truth are placed in anew context, and the rationale for art is taken out of the limbo of mistaken hedonist theories familiar in positivist thinking and placed within the fabric of a more fundamental human "needs" than "pleasure." For Aristotle was right to observe that pleasure cannot be an end in itself but is a proper by-product of the fulfillment of another purpose (cf. Nichomachen Ethics, first part of Book 10). One needs always to ask in what the pleasure is taken and how it happened to arise. Pleasure is not the answer to a question: it is the starting point for questioning. Nietzsche makes art a need of man, one might say a "metaphysical" need and he explicitly refers to art as the "metaphysical" activity of man (cf. The Birth of Tragedy and Will to Power, parag. 853). For hermeneutics, this places the activity of interpretation of art in a new context. For it makes a difference whether one starts with modernist Kantian assumptions about art as the disinterested contemplation of forms (a function of subjectivity) or with Nietzschean assumptions about art as the properly metaphysical activity of man.


1.14  The thinking of Nietzsche may be interpreted in terms of his negative reaction to three "modern" creative thinkers—(1) Descartes (1596-1650); (2) Wagner (1813- 1883); and (3) Schopenhauer (1788-1860).  (1) Against Descartes he denied the unity of the human subject and the supremacy of consciousness, and he opposed the abstract model of knower and known that form the basis of the "subject-object schema." (2) Against Wagner, he protested violently the adulation of Parsefals Christian self-negation, and he urged a thinking that would go "beyond good and evil," beyond the life-denying impact of Christianity.  Platonist moral values and metaphysics.  (3) And against Schopenhauer, he protested the contemplative attitude that steps aside from life.  Schopenhauer's Buddhist negation of life itself and his idealist metaphysics. To this world-denying pessimism and despair he opposed his original image of a god that laughs and dances and sings: Dionysus against Schopenhauerian denial he asserted a Dionysus that says "yes to life." (Cf. Will to Power, Book 4 on Dionysus, as well as Dionysus' discussion, The Birth of Tragedy, section 2).


1.15  Ultimately, Nietzsche takes steps to transcend the vitalist pragmatism of his own concept of will to power. In tragic knowledge he asserts that there is a will to truth that goes beyond self-preservation, beyond the will to dominate, beyond the personal will to power.  Nietzsche derives an interesting factor from his hermeneutical experience as a philologist.  Here he expresses the necessity for a philological probity that respects the text and takes from it not what one wishes to hear but what asks to be heard (cf. Nietzsche's hermeneutic derives from his philosophy of textual interpretation (cf. see Gramier op cit in section entitled "La passion de la connaissance: 1'ideal de la probite philologique et la justice," pp. 498-506). Nietzsche seeks to escape both the illusions of object vision and also go beyond the realm even of that larger plurality of interpretive center, the organic subjectivity which Nietzsche opposes to the Cartesian subjectivity and philosophy of consciousness. It suggests a truth beyond both objectivity and subjectivity (see my Kuhn's Paradigmatic Revolution Search for Transcendence Beyond Objectivism and Subjectivism).


1.16   Whatever his resolution, Nietzsche's radical thought places interpretation in a whole new framework and the fact redefines interpretation itself. Nietzsche is probably the best introduction to a post-modern philosophy of interpretation.




2.0  Psychology and Hermeneutics: Psychological Circle and Post Modern Hermeneutics


The second category that is fundamental in the development of Post-Modern Hermeneutics lies between psychology and hermeneutics. There has been little fundamental exploration between psychology and hermeneutics. The enterprise of hermeneutics takes place within the wider context of the debate about tradition and modernity. Hermeneutics is an ancient discipline in both the literary and its theological forms. It has always been concerned with traditional meanings and postmodern hermeneutical theory is concerned with recovering for modernity the meaning of tradition. Because it dwells upon traditional meanings, hermeneutics has ignored psychology which is the very essence of modernity. Psychology defines itself as over against tradition!! Therefore, to explore the relation between the two is to carry the debate over tradition and modernity one step further. Fundamental in the relationship is the effort for psychology to become itself in the modern world hermeneutical debate. Post-modern hermeneutics focuses upon the consciousness of the interpreter as well as upon the objective meaning of the texts.


2.1  In so doing it creates the need for a psychology. For, of the various disciplines available to hermeneutics, psychology is the most concerned with the structure and function of consciousness. On the other hand, psychology is not often aware of its hermeneutical implications. In the past 100 years it has separated itself from the philosophy of religion and moral philosophy. In a fundamental sense we could assert that psychology is a missing component in hermeneutics. As a result of this separating, hermeneutics has had to do its own psychologizing. Psychology is engaged in interpreting religion and cultural texts without relevance to the various problems involved in what is essentially hermeneutical work. Just as hermeneutics has produced its own psychological schemas, so psychology has created its own hermeneutical world, what are the fundamental bridges and resources involving hermeneutics in the interrelation between psychology and hermeneutics? (1) Develop a typology of psychological theories of religion; (2) or Develop a typology of hermeneutical models and insert psychology into the discussion. This would update the old "theology of culture" model.  (3) Attempt to bridge the models of psychology and hermeneutics. But how and why?


2.12  By arbitrarily selecting the models of Paul Ricoeur and Sigmund Freud we will seek to evaluate how these two systems can be fused. The choice stems from the fact that Ricoeur employes Freud in a most impressive and thorough manner.  At the heart of this effort to fuse these two interpretative schemas is the "problem of ideology" as fundamental in the debate between tradition and modernity (cf. Kuhnsian Paradigm; World View, mode of integration). Crucial to our hermeneutic pluralism is the presupposition (ideology) of the Relativism of Modern Thought.


2.13  Ideological Relativism of Thought as a Bridge Between Psychology and Hermeneutics:


Freud is well known for his delineation of "three outrages" or blows to the pride of Western man:  (1) Copernicus (1473-1543), (2) Darwin (1809-1882) and (3) Freud himself (1856-1939)- each in his own way decentered the sense of absoluteness of Western man's image of himself, his thought, and his vision of the world (cf. Freud's A General Introduction of Psychoanalysis (E.T. NY: Washington Square Press, 1952, p. 296; also Marx (181-1883) though Freud does not mention him).

2.14  Freud identified the central problem of Western man with that of Narcissism. He related the effect of his own theories on the problem of tradition and modernity. Freud's psychology was designed to make Western man modern man, to free him from the restraints of tradition and the authority of the past.


2.15  Despite the recentness of its formulation Freud's vision of Western man has already become obsolete. It needs to be qualified. Freud's three "blows" have been at least four circumstances: these lie at the heart of the defining characteristics of modern man and they provide the context for any current estimate of his limitations and possibilities.  Six characteristics locate modern man in relation to the Western past.  (1) Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton.  (2) Freud's psychology as the very circumstance which defines modern man.  (3) Another circumstance is the rise of Marxism (cf. demise of Marxism in Russia) and its power to organize the daily lives of vast numbers of people in both the east and the west.  (4) Darwinian

paradigm - all reality is in process.  (5) Discovery by Western historians of primitive man and his religions; and (6) Emergence upon the Western consciousness of Eastern religions and their Pluralistic/Pantheistic approaches to the nature of life. These six circumstances focus the issue of tradition and modernity.


2.17  These pluralistic issues have created the rise of post-modern hermeneutics and also account for the fragmentary character of hermeneutics for there is no general hermeneutical theory. How can these issues focus on the problem of the relation between tradition and modernity? Each in its own way affirms a distinction made famous by Karl Mannheim, the problem of the relativism of modern thought and whether relativistic relationism is possible.  (Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia (E.T., NY: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1936, chp 2). How has each of our six circumstances relativized the status of thought and action in the post-modern West? (cf. see my Demise of Transcendent Explanatory Models, pp. 1-55 in library)


2.18  Freud (1856-1939) and Marx (1818-1883) both embodied in their thought the forces of positivism and science (see my Thomas Kuhn's Theory of Paradigmatic Revolution and Changing Views of The Nature of Science - in the library). Following this pathway each labored to show the hidden basis, the infrastructure of thought. For Freud there was a developmental infrastructure; for Marx there was an economic infrastructure. Each relativized the claims of tradition. The Western discovery of primitive religions has created a debate in anthropology between functionalists and structuralists about whether primitive man and modern man are essentially the same or different? The functionalist maintains that there is a basic difference between modern and primitive man, while the structuralist insists upon a basic continuity. Through their position on this issue the structuralists have relativized modern thought. They argue that thought, especially mythic thought, is expressive of social and ethnographic conditions. The true source and meaning of thought are removed from the individual consciousness of the thinker creating the thought. The thinker cannot discover the real source and meaning of his thoughts, and the interpreter who can discover the source and meaning does not participate in the thought process.  In such a way structuralism relativizes the claims of tradition. The impact of Eastern religions has created relativism in a different, much more obvious way. The presence of Eastern traditions on the Western scene has challenged the absolutic and universalistic claims of Western thought (cf. Science's impact in Africa and Asia reveals universal structure. There is no Japanese physics, medicine, law, etc., nor East African biology or chemistry. These six fundamental circumstances have challenged the autonomy and universality of Western thought and constitute the major materials with which hermeneutics deals.


2.19  These circumstances have caused the very rise to prominence of hermeneutics itself; that is, they have created the need for hermeneutics and they constitute its situation. Because of the Hermeneutical (and Scientific) revolution, it is not longer possible to identify theological thought as the major representative thought form of the West, the thought form in which so many Western philosophical, moral, and social ideas have been cast. From this it follows that theology is the major bearer of the hermeneutical tradition. As such, it is confronted, as we have now recognized, by trends both internal and external to it, trends which strive to surpass it. How has theology, as the bearer of hermeneutical thinking, sought to meet this confrontation?


2.20  Two stages of its response are found on the very recent theological scene.  (1) the first stage is Barthian Neo-orthodoxy and other neo-reformation theologians. The text studied by these theologians were restricted very much to the Western tradition itself. The theologians' fundamental task was that of responding to the rise of science and of positivistic methods. Liberalism was an antecedent of this state, for it engaged the problem of writing scientific history, while neo-orthodoxy responded to the scientific knowledge of men in the form of theological anthropology. Especially did neo-orthodoxy respond to Freudianism and Marxism, the first two of our six circumstances. Its response to them consisted of the demythologizing method. Accordingly, Freud and Marx were viewed as having created secular mythologies which embodied a doctrine of man composed of images of his essence, his alienation, and his salvation. By means of such as these, hermeneutics attempted to cope with dissent from within its tradition (cf. but not from without the tradition).


3.0  A Crucial Turn: The decline of Theological Anthropology and the Method of Demythologizing as two central agendas for this genre of theology, was due to the increasing sense of the importance of primitive and Eastern religions for the Western mind (cf. also the rise of counter-culture, for it embodies all sets of circumstances in special ways; however, it is chiefly the discovery of primitive religion and the presence of Eastern religion and mythology that has given rise to what could be called the stage of hermeneutics proper.  Hermeneutics proper is therefore a response to the six sets of circumstances. The task of hermeneutics is to bring some sort of order to the conflicting views of Western man occasioned by these six circumstances and their relativizing effects!!! This is a central challenge to the Church at the end of the 20th century. (W. Kaiser/M. Silva, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Zondervan, 93) Hermeneutics as a Delineation of The Problems which Constitute the Work of Hermeneutics  (cf. "Problem Areas" as distinct from "circumstances")


Post-Modern Hermeneutics must content with the following challenges, i.e., they are the Post-Modern parameters of any hermeneutical theory.  As such they are also the issues to which psychological thought must also be addressed:  (1) Problem of Subjectivism; (2) Problem of Objectivism; and (3) Problem of Meditation (cross-cultural Communication and Cross-Horizon Communication.


Problem of Subjectivism: The demythologizing controversy focused upon the relation between myth in the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition and positivistic assumptions regarding the nature of modern consciousness. However, demythologization focuses less upon the structure of consciousness and more upon the plausibility of traditional Western myths. Hermeneutics, on the other hand, engages in a direct and fundamental way the problem of the structure of consciousness in relation to the activity of interpretation. Hermeneutics asks the crucial question, What effect does interpretation have upon the structure and function of consciousness? (Relationships of Presuppositions, Horizons, Paradigms, World Views, Legitimization Structures, Integration modes, etc.)


3.1  This problem area may be illuminated by contrasting the views on interpretation of M. Eliade and C. Levi-Strauss (cf. M. Eliade, Myth and Reality (E.T. Harper, 1963; also his "Methodological Remarks on The Study of Religous Symbolism" in The History of Religions (Eliad/Kitagawa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959); and C. Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology (E.T. NY: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1967). Eliade writes in the tradition of Dilthey, Husserl, and Heidegger, maintaining above all else that the interpreter must discover relations between the text and consciousness. This discovery constitutes one of the central issues of hermeneutics! Transposing Eliade's notion of valorization we may say that the text valorizes consciousness. On the other hand for Levi-Strauss interpretation is like astronomy; there is a formidable distance between meaning of the text and the consciousness of the interpreter. The creator of the myth can never know the meaning of the text, and the interpreter who does know the meaning of the text does not share in this meaning, as does the creator or believer. Thus Eliade and Levi-Strauss polarize, very dramatically, the problem of consciousness in hermeneutics. This polarization bears some similarity to Paul Ricoeur's well-known distinction between "demystification and demythologization" (cf. Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy (E.T. New Haven, Yale,1970, p. 27).


3.2  The Problem of Objectivism:


The objective problem is the problem of the nature of the "objects" of consciousness. In hermeneutics this is the problem of myth and symbol, the meaning of what the consciousness of the interpreter takes as its object (cf. the problem of myth was central to the demythologizing approach). In focusing on the objective problems, however, the demythologizing approach did so within the context of the Western tradition, seeing Freud and Marx, for example, as cryptio-demythologizers; it did not attend to primitive religions are to Eastern traditions. Crucial to this area of hermeneutics is the question of whether Myth is a living structure, or a dead structure to be relegated to a uninfluential past. Can myth be appropriated into contemporary forms of consciousness or must it be relegated to the ethnographic contexts of its origin and emergence? This question engages the process of mediation.


3.3  The Problem of Mediation: Is Cross-Paradigm Communication Possible?


The third problem area for hermeneutics is the problem of mediating between the subjective and objective poles, the problem of how subjective and objective factors, both consciousness and myth, coalesce. The question is what structures lie at an intermediate position between the great myths of the past and the post-modern present? What structures lie intermediate between the experiencing of everyday life and the mythic structures of tradition? The problem of the intermediate, of mediation is the problem of ideology.  (cf. Kuhn's Paradigm, Worldview, Integration mode, etc.) Theological hermeneutics also ignores it to a considerable degree. Ideology engages very directly the problem of the nature of contemporary culture. In particular the counter culture, for the latter raises the question of popular myth -those myths which lie midway between everyday life and the great myths of tradition (see my bibliography on Ideology and The Culture of the Post Baby-Boomers, e.g., "Age of Ideology" and "The End of Ideology," "The Age of Ideology" lies at the heart of the rise of pluralized social conditions and correspondingly pluralized worldviews. The notion of ideology has passed through two stages, which correspond to the two phases of hermeneutics. The first stage was viewed as a distortion of rational consciousness, and consequently what was called for was an attempt to interpret this "false consciousness" reductively in order to develop a "nonideological" point of view. This is the position taken by neo orthodox theology, with its program of theology of culture and demythologization.  In this fashion this orientation approached Freud and Marx. It saw Freudianism and Marxism as propaedeutic to faith, or means of eliminating false consciousness and restoring a higher form of clarified consciousness, free of ideological distortion (see my bibliography on Ideology in the library).


3.4  The second phase clearly separates the hermeneutics of demythologization from hermeneutics proper. For in it ideology is seen as a necessary element - albeit -but one element in the modern consciousness with whiclrtnny theory of interpretation must come to terms (cf. the fact that man can communicate Horizons is proof that hermeneutical horizons are not necessarily "context bound"). Ideology cannot be simply eliminated through a reductive act of interpretation. It is, instead, an unavoidable factor in human thinking (i.e. presuppositionless interpretation is impossible!). Both Freudianism and Marxism have recognized this!  (1) For example, the work of Erik Erikson makes an explicit place for ideology in the mature functioning of the young adult and as a persisting factor in adult experience (E. Erikson, "Identity and Life Cycle" in Psychological Issues, no. 1, 1959:153-159). (2) The Marxist theoreticism, Louis Altusser, has remarked that ideology cannot be eliminated from consciousness, that it is an inevitable consequence of social and historical life (cf. Louis Altusser, For Marx (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1969, p.251).  These two agree that it is impossible to eliminate ideology in the work of understanding and any theory of interpretation must take it into account.


4.0  The Relevance of Psychology for Hermeneutics:


Psychology is of special significance for our post modern discussion of hermeneutics. It has significance for the six major circumstances defining modernity and also, especially, with the five problem areas of hermeneutics.  (1) Psychology is a modern discipline, everything about it stand in opposition to tradition.  A new science, it is in some ways the science of modernization itself, as indeed it defines itself. It emerged as a result of freeing itself from the traditional disciplines of moral philosophy and philosophy of religion.  (2) Much contemporary psychology is concerned with the problem of consciousness. Psychology is the discipline most given over to the analysis of structures of consciousness. In the absence of psychology hermeneutics has had to do its own psychologizing.  (3) Much of psychology has engaged in a kind of crypto-hermeneutics developing theories of its own about symbol and especially about myth. This is primarily true of the Depth Psychologies.  (4) Psychology is concerned with the character of consciousness in relation to everyday life. As such, it is concerned with ideology and with interpreting ideology in everyday life.  (5) Much of psychology is ideology.  It has become commonplace to speak of the post modern man as the psychological man (cf.  Philip Kieff, The Triumph of The Therapeutic (NY: Harper, 1966); psychology as social criticism e.g. B. F. Skinner's behaviorism).


Since psychology engages all areas of human consciousness it is relevant for hermeneutics. But often ideology obstructs the work of interpretation. How are we to go about the task of creating an engagement between the two areas of thought? In order to approach a point of contact between the two disciplines perhaps a typology of psychologies will suffice (cf. Pluralism in Psychologies and Pluralism in Hermeneutics; conflict among ideologies/paradigm, worldviews, integration modes, etc. - conflicting orientations). Not only is psychology pluralized but also cut off from culture, that is, it lacks a sense of its own origins in the epistemological debates of modern/post-modern Western thought (cf. T. Kuhn's theory of Scientific Paradigmatic Revolution - astronomy, physics, chemistry - developed first, then the so-called Scientific Method was applied to every area of investigation.  Psychology developed late in the scientific revolution (see my Origin and Development of The Social/Behavioral Sciences in the library).


4.1  There are four major paradigms of psychology which cannot be reduced to variants

of one another.


4.10  Behavioral Paradigm: Behaviorism is one of the best known, especially in American psychology. Its most famous figures are John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner (cf. J. B. Watson, Behaviorism (Chicago, 1930) and B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (NY: Knopf, 1971). The goal of behaviorism is to develop a scientific analysis of behavior by focusing upon the complex interrelations between behavior and environment rather than between behavior and inner intention. The individual is therefore defined in terms of his relation to the immediate natural and social environment. Behaviorism derives from the rise of science in the West, with its rejection of idealistic, mentalistic interpretation of natural phenomena (cf. Behaviorism is based in a positivistic paradigm of science; this paradigm collapsed as the result of the world of Planck and Heisenberg, Einstein, et. al. - see my work Changing Paradigms of Science in Light of Thomas Kuhn's Theory o£ Paradigm, i.e. are scientific revolutions merely derived from incremental knowledge or do Scientific Paradigms occur as a radical rejection of "the received view" of scientific interpretation? Evidence and interpretive paradigm). Behaviorism is thus self-consciously modern taking on its task the freeing of the individual from traditional modes of thought (cf. Behaviorism seeks to free man from one paradigm, only to lock him in a totally determined structure-paradigm). How can the "mind" transcend a totally determined thought structure? What caused the acceptance of the behavioristic paradigm? It therefore rejects the moral, humanistic, and theological values of the West.  It is not concerned with religious tradition in other culture, be they primitive or Eastern.  In rejecting consciousness as an object of study, behaviorism rejects all the major problem areas of hermeneutics; the structure of consciousness, myth and symbol and especially ideology.





4.1 Classical Psychoanalysis:


This orientation in psychology is best represented by the definable positivistic trends in S. Freud's thought and his classic interpreters, such as Fenichel. Included also are non-Freudian efforts (cf. C. S. Hall and G. Ludzey, Theories of Personality (NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1970).  This orientation has provided most of the psychological materials for hermeneutics as the literature is quite formidable. Representatives of it are Fromm's analysis of Protestantism, Wheelis' Analysis of Modernity and Roheims' work on primitive religion as well as Erickson's discussions of religion (cf. Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom (NY: Rinehart & Co., 1941; Allen Wheelis, The Quest for Identity (NY: Norton, 1958); G. Roheim, The Eternal Ones of The Dream (NY: International University Press, 1945); and Erik Erikson, The Young Man Luther (NY: Norton, 1958).  Classical psychoanalysis, unlike behaviorism, has been concerned with the past!  Its principle efforts in this regard has consistently been to reduce the symbols and myths of the past to a clear field of rational consciousness in order for the individual to function instrumentally in contemporary everyday life. These products of the past are interpretively reduced to present functionings. The hermeneutical task of this reduction is to free modern man from the past so that he may live more effectively in the present. Thus psychoanalysis is very much concerned with such problem areas of hermeneutics as consciousness and myth. Psychoanalysis has left itself open to criticism that is itself an ideology. Perhaps because there can be no "totally objective hermeneutic" of any are of reality. All interpretation is "theory laden." Can the mind transcend "contextual boundary?" The history and development of science and mission-transmission/translation across linguistic and culture hermeneutical horizons is proof of the possibility!  The human mind is not necessarily "context bound"!!  (Cf. the work of Nida and Pike of translation across cultures stands as remarkable proof.)


4.12  Phenomenology Psychology:  (often inseparable from Existential Psychology) This orientation in psychology is best represented by the writings of such men as Binswager, Boss, May, Rogers, Merleau-Ponty, and Gendlin (cf. Ludwig Binswanger, Being in The World (NY: E.T. Basic Books, 1963); Medard Boss, Psychoanalysis and Dasein Analysis (NY: E.T. Basic Books, 1963); Rollo May, Existence (NY: Basic Books, 19548); Carl Rogers, Christ-Centered Therapy (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1951); Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Structure of Behavior

(Boston: E.T. Beacon Press, 1963); and Eugene T. Gendlin, Experiencing and Creation of Meaning (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1962). It has definable roots in the work of William James. Phenomenological psychology focuses upon the structure of consciousness and immediate experiencing. Its intent is to discover the uniqueness of the individual in relation to various social roles hence the well-known categories of Dwelt, Mitwelt and Eigenwelt. Through an analysis of these dimensions of personal existence this psychology seeks to understand how the individual can be restored to authentic relations with himself and others and with his material surroundings.


Phenomenological psychology is deeply rooted in the Western tradition.  It attempts to fulfill the images of person and community in the Western metaphysical and ethical tradition but to do this without explicitly returning to classical Western paradigms. It considers Freud and Marx to have had seminal insights into the problems of modern mass society.  It ignores primitive and Eastern religion in favor of a direct concern with the problem of making whole the alienated consciousness of Western man. Thus, it addresses itself to the problem of myth, but only for the purpose of demythologizing it.  It does not engage the problem of ideology except to view it as a distortion of consciousness. There is no concern with analyzing the roles and rules formed by social structures for phenomenological psychology assumes that the individual can relate to and transform any social structure, provided that the structure of consciousness itself is clarified and reason given for exchanging one paradigm for another.


4.13  Structural Paradigm of Hermeneutics (see my Hermeneutics and Structuralism; Truth and Meaning in the library)


Here we encounter a pluralism of interpretative schemes. Gestalt psychology is a forerunner of structuralism and Piaget, Kohlberg and Loevinger to be the major representatives. However, included also are Lacan's structural reinterpretation of Freud's psychology some structural anthropology and sound structuralist work on popular culture which again alludes to Freud's psychology (cf. Jean Piaget/B. Inhelder, The Psychology of The Child (NY: E.T. Basic Books, 1969); Jean Piaget, Structuralism (NY: Basic Books, 1970); Lawrence Kolhberg, "From Is To Ought: How To Commit The Naturalistic Fallacy and Get Away With It In The Study of Moral Development," in Cognitive Development and Epistemology (NY: Academic Press, 1971); Jean Loevinger/Ruth Wassler, Measuring Ego Development Vol. I (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1970); Jacques Lacon "The Function of Language in Psychoanalysis" in The Language of The Self (E.T. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968). But a structuralist theory of signs and culture really steps beyond the boundaries of structuralist psychology. Structuralists often speak of stages of cognitive moral and psychological development. Each stage presupposes the prior one.


There is an overall gradual movement from hedonism to genuine concern for others. These intrinsic stages are cross-cultural and are not class special or class bound.  Structuralism is neither concerned with traditions nor with retrieving contemporary meaning from the tradition of the West or from other religious traditions, primitive or Eastern.  It makes no distinction between traditional/modern or between religious and non religious. It does not focus specifically upon the problems of consciousness, myth or ideology.


5.0  The Horizon Fusion between Psychology and Hermeneutics:


Two observations are in order to take note of the fusion effort:  (1) Note the privileged position of the psychoanalytic orientation for hermeneutics.  (2) Need to assess the four orientations in psychology, giving criteria for stipulating which orientation is most useful to hermeneutical theory.  Is an integrating theory visible between Psychoanalysis and Hermeneutics?

Freud's psychology seems to be most versatile and adaptable from among major psychological paradigms (noted above). This versatility lies in the fact that other orientations in psychology are indebted, in varying degrees, to psychoanalytic theory. Behaviorism seeks to integrate psychoanalysis by their "learning theory." (John Dollard and Neal E. Miller, Personality and Psychotherapy (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1959); observational formulation of psychoanalysis by Peter Madison, Freud's Concept of Repression and Defense (University of Minnesota, 1961); structuralist orientation has made use of Freud in Lacon/Wilden/Michell, Psychoanalysis and Feminism (NY: Pantheon Books, 1974).


The central thrust of these discussions has been the exploration of meaning embedded in the Western past and their relations to the secular present. Hermeneutics, i.e., the phase of demythologizing, which saw Freud as the author of secularization freeing modern man from authority of the Christian past. But following up on the demythologizing debate, a new group of thinkers took a far more positive note, seeing in Freud an ally in the interpretation of the present in light of the past (cf. Norman 0. Brown, Life Against Death (NY: Random House, 1959); David Bakon, The Duality of Human Existence (Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1966); and Peter Homans, Theology After Freud (NY: Bobbs-Merrell, 1970) for a review discussion of these reinterpretations of Freud).


We must not forget that Freud's psychology has been used in varying degrees to illuminate each of the six sets of circumstances which have been associated with modernity.  Freud has been related to Marxism through the Frankfurt school and through the work of Lacan, Wilden and Mitchell, to primitive religions in the work of Levi-Strauss and Leach, and to Eastern religions through Eliade's guarded references to the history of religion as a kind of metapsychology. In all these areas, when taken together, we set the interplay between consciousness, myth, and ideology.  No one approach deals with all six sets of circumstances or all three problem areas in a focused, active and full intentional manner. The Freudian materials deal primarily with the problem of traditional meaning in the West and this relates to modern Western, secularized consciousness; efforts to expand beyond this to the problem of primitive and Eastern religion are unsuccessful (Demise of Secularism break down of Physics, Education and Technology as salvific).  This is due to the simple fact that there are intrinsic links between the Freudian materials and the Western tradition. Freud's psychology is limited in the same fashion that Western theology and hermeneutics have been limited. Furthermore, the Freudian tradition, despite its readiness to focus on consciousness and its relation to symbol and myth, cannot deal with ideology; it simply cannot engage this problem in a productive way, despite efforts to integrate it into a broader point of view that includes ideology (cf. ideas that organize a given social structure, Worldviews, Paradigm, Integration mode, etc.)


The same criticism hold true for each of the psychological paradigms mentioned above. The behavioral approach is concerned solely with adaptation to current social circumstances and in no way with the question of retrieval of meaning. The Phenomenological orientation is devoted entirely to the freeing of the self from an authoritative models of contemporary Western social existence.  And the Structuralist approach ignores the problem of Western meanings.  The theme of insularity can be carried one step further.  Each of these psychological orientations is extremely isolated from all the others, so that there is no way to take advantage of any sort of potential division of labor between them (cf. Pluralism of psychologies -pluralism of hermeneutical approaches to Western consciousness).  Within this pluralistic mode between psychology and hermeneutics we need a psychology which will do three things:  (1) It must be cross-cultural to avoid the culture-bound character of so much modern psychology and also hermeneutics, at least those orientation preoccupied with tradition modernity debate.  (2) We need a psychology which can approach the problem of "the other" and of "otherness", since it is not clear that modern Western individuals are confronted by different world views and different persons.  (3) We need a psychology which can incorporate other different psychological orientations, one which has promising interpretative power of "inclusiveness."  (cf. Pluralistic Secularism).

(1) Hermeneutically, we need a theory which is first of all rooted in the Western tradition but which is aware of the pluralized worldview that confronts the modern Western mind - that is aware of the problem of secularization especially as embodied in the works of Freud and Marx; this is necessary simply because hermeneutics is a Western phenomenon and because secularization is the social context in which any hermeneutical theory must be constructed (Socialism has failed in three areas—nature of Science, shaping force of Education, and Technology as salvation). (2) We need a theory which has the capacity to deal with primitive religions and Eastern religions (cf. there are pantheists in nature).  This means, in effect, that the theory must be able to incorporate the methodological frameworks and insights of structural anthropology and of the history and phenomenology of religions.  Is an integrating hermeneutic (integral theory) possible in our secularistic/pluralistic world? Where can we search for a means to integrate the six sets of circumstances and the three problem areas, for is it not characteristic of the modern world to be pluralized? What framework of hermeneutics can address itself to international pluralism? The task of hermeneutics is to interpret the various symbolism of contemporary culture in such a way as to render the inhabitants of that culture whole and all of one piece. And, to become a whole person, we need a world which is whole. The Western Christian tradition is a place to begin for it has given rise t the hermeneutical question; yet it has come to be confronted with symbol systems which are not of its own making but which nonetheless impinge upon it with great force and even greater degrees of self-evidence

Thus, the Western tradition must come to terms with what is other than itself, as it finds this in the paradoxes of Freud and Marx and in the ambiguities created by the discovery of primitive religions and the presence of Eastern religions. Wholeness is no longer a coming to term with one's own past. The sense of what is other than ourselves, of what is alien to ourselves, is much greater now than it was in the earlier periods of hermeneutical work. And as such, it gives rise to the demand for an integral theory (Worldview, Paradigm, Integration mode, etc.), which can accommodate not only the peculiarly Western context of hermeneutics, but also the particular circumstances and problem areas what context engenders (cf. Carl Braaten, History and Hermeneutics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966); Rudolph Bultmann, Kerygma and Myth (E.T. London: S.P.C.K., 1954); William Palmer, Hermeneutics (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969); and J. M. Robinson (J. B. Cobb, ed.) The New Hermeneutic (NY: Harper, 1964).  Can Paul Ricoeur's structural psychology produce an integrating hermeneutic?


Crucial in our search for integrating model of hermeneutics is the connection between styles of hermeneutical thinking, or modes of interpretation and stages of the moral development of the person (see especially Matthew Ikeda, "Yukio Mishima: A Study of Personal Metamorphosis" (PhD thesis, University of Chicago, 1974). The contention that there are relations between psychology and hermeneutics, taken as two types of thinking, has been developed around the work of Piaget, Kohlberg and Loevinger (see thesis mentioned above). What is the relation between moral and psychological, rather than cognitive development? (1) Structuralist approach strives to be cross-cultural.  The stages of development are not restricted to specific social conditions.  (2) Structuralism seeks to development a sense of the other otherness.  (3) Structural orientation does not focus upon specific moral and ethical contents but upon the forms of developments, irrespective of specific moral principles. Kohlberg and Loevinger have applied Piaget's theories of cognitive development to the problem of moral development and ego development. Each stage of development produces a more complex and adequate "order" than the preceding one, each in a structural whole, a full organization to all mental processes and not just a set of attitudes, so that each person must go through each stage.  (Why?)

For our hermeneutical purposes we will take note of the last three states: Ikeda’s (4) conscientious - presence of self-evaluation standards, capacity for self criticism; guilt for consequences of breaking the law; long term goals and ideals; law and order orientation.  (5) autonomous - capacity to cope with inner needs; ability to tolerate difference among groups of people; democratic frame of reference. (6) integrated - reconciling inner conflicts; universal ethical orientation; renunciation of the unattainable; concern with universals and essences.


6.0  How Can We Integrate These Stages of Psychological Development Without Thinking About Hermeneutics?


Ikeda maintains that these hermeneutical stages reflect the various relations that exist between consciousness, myth, and ideology. Ricoeur's hermeneutic asserts that there are three levels in the formation and usage of symbols:  "I suggest that we distinguish various levels of creativity of symbols. . . at the lowest level we find various stereotyped and fragmented remains of symbols. . . that has nothing to pass. This is the level of dream symbolism and also of fairy tales and legends; here the work of symbolization is no longer operative.  At the second level we come up with the symbols that function in everyday life. . . serve as clockwork of a given society. ... At a higher level comes the prospective symbols, these are creations of meaning that take up the traditional symbols with their multiple significances and serve as the vehicle of new meanings.  This creation of meaning reflects the living substrate that is not the result of social sedimentation." (Paul Ricoeur, ibid, pp. 504-505)


Perhaps the key stage for hermeneutics is stage 4, the stage of consciousness, of the capacity for self-criticism and of guilt for consequences of breaking laws. For this is a fundamental step in the process of the individual socialization (cf. Ricoeur's level 11, wherein interpretation focuses upon the symbolism of everyday life and their function as a token of social contract. Within this stage there is little awareness of the myth and symbolism which exist outside one's culture but great awareness of the myths and symbols within it). The individual uncritically accepts the dominate ideologies of his own immediate, everyday life (cf. 7,000 languages and dialects and hundreds of cultural structures). Stage four is depicted by Freud's notion of the internalization of the cultural "superego", the dictate of parents and teachers (cf. Jung's stage of individualism in which the person is the dominate psychological structure.  We are on the way to the omnipotent and autonomous child) (cf. Erickson's notion of pseudospeciation and to Carl Roger's notion of conditions of worth). Stage 5 referred to as the stage of autonomy, characterized by the ability to tolerate differences among groups of people and by the presence of a democratic frame of reference as regards hermeneutics this stage is identified by the work of demystification or perhaps demythification (cf. the first term emphasizes the mature guiding the interpretation of texts in a reductive manner, whereas the term "demythification" avoids any reference to the motives of the interpreter).  In the hermeneutics of Stage 5 there is a distance between consciousness and myth. Myth is viewed relativistically for its humanists and comparative value (cf. Bultmannian demythologization belongs in stage 4). The difference between demythologization and demythification is important. Demythologization translates myth into an existential epistemological vision, while demythification translates it into the scientific framework of the day. Demythologization retrieves meaning from the past; demythification treats myth iconoclastically, in order to free meaning in the present, from the past.

Stage 5 thus corresponds to Freud's critique of religion through his analysis of the cultural superego.  It also corresponds to Erikson's concept of identity.  It is the stage of development which is paralleled by the comparative approach in the study of religion and it views ideology as a distortion of human consciousness, something to be interpreted and analytically removed (cf. Thiselton's Paradigmatic Revolution). Stage 6 represents the most advanced stage of development, and can be the most inclusive hermeneutical style. The key to this style is the re-emergence of myth as a genuine possibility, even for the rational consciousness of modern man.  In stage 6 the individual is characterized as integrated, that is, he is capable of being concerned with the otherness of universals and essences.  This stage can become constructive hermeneutics, characterized by a dialectic between human consciousness and the re-appropriation of mythic form. Myth and consciousness are related once again (stage 4, dialectical distance between stage 4 and 5).  Ricoeur's third level of symbolization in which prospective symbols create new meanings through the re-appropriation of the meaning of the past.  Under these conditions there is a dialectic between the comparison of myth (stage 5) and commitment to a master myth (stage 4).


At this point we note again the importance of the place of ideology (see my bibliography on Ideology). Ideology is an enduring factor of all living, although it is also viewed not as a single and dominant idea system, but rather, in relation to the ideologies of other cultures. Ideology is the medium by which myth is mediated to consciousness. Freud's positivistic psychology is unable to comprehend the characteristics of this stage of development. Erikson's notion of integrity, Maslow's notion of self-actualization and the peak experience of Jung's notion of individuation into selfhood seek to transcend the Freudian positivistic impass, of being unable to cross the bridge of the hermeneutical cycle (cf. Erikson, "Identity and Life Cycle"; Maslow, Toward A Psychology of Being (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand Co., 1962); and Carl Jung, Two Essays in Analytical Psychology (NY: E.T. Meridian Books, 1956).


Is it possible to bridge the three modes of thought—Philosophy, Psychology and Hermeneutics? (See the following schema of Relationship between stages of Development and Hermeneutical Styles (Peter Homons, "Psychology and Hermeneutics: An Exploration of Basic Resources" Journal of Religion, vol. 55, 1975), pp. 327-346. What is the Church's challenge in the Global Village (1990's - 2001) so separated by a dualism of hermeneutics?



Dr. James Strauss, Theology/Philosophy

Lincoln Christian Seminary

Lincoln, IL 62656-2111