HERMENEUTICS (Theories of Interpretation)

Dr. Harry P. Reeder

(Sample Syllabus)



I. Objectives: This course will begin with a consideration of the background of philosophical hermeneutics in modern philosophy (Descartes, Hume, Kant). Then it will follow the hermeneutic tradition in philosophy as it develops in the twentieth century, through a philosophical examination of the works of influential hermeneutical philosophers, especially Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, and Paul Ricoeur. In addition, we will examine the independent yet in part parallel philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

II. Format: In each class we will discuss the weekly assigned reading. Students should come to class prepared to discuss issues arising from the texts. Students are expected to prepare at least one written question for each class (after the first class), in order to facilitate discussion. Because of the nature of philosophy, it is essential for students to attend every class, and to come prepared to discuss the assigned readings; if you must miss a class it is your responsibility to get notes from someone else. Because the exams will include material from the lectures it is also essential for students to TAKE NOTES in class (pen and paper!); I have noticed an alarming trend of students failing to take notes, and it has adversely affected their grades. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

III. Texts:

The following text will be available from the bookstore:
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, Tr. Joan Stambaugh, SUNY Press, 1996.

A number of other texts will be available via the Black Board.

IV. Assignments: (Graduate assignments differ) Grades will be based upon four assignments:
  1. written questions about the reading assignment, to be handed in each week except weeks 1 and 15 (10% cumulative)
  2. one short (5-7 page, graduate students 7-9 page) essay due in week 8 (40%)
  3. a 10-12 page (graduate students 12-16 page) term paper that discusses a major theme carried through all, or almost all, of the assigned readings (50%), due at the last class.
The essays will discuss some issue arising in, or through, the week's reading assignment (e.g., an objection, a discussion of the relation of the reading assignment with some other text, etc.).

Students are urged to work early on their essays, as DUE DATES ARE FINAL!!! Students may present the instructor with drafts of the essays, for comments. See Tentative Course Calendar, below, for due dates. LATE ASSIGNMENTS will not be accepted, except in extraordinary (and documented) circumstances.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS will not be accepted, except in extraordinary (and documented) circumstances.

V. Attendance and Drop Policy: Attendance of EVERY class is a minimum requirement of this course. The work done in class in mostly NOT repeated in the text. Each student is responsible for getting notes and announcements from class that he/she has missed. The instructor cannot drop students from the class. To drop, a student must fill out a drop slip (and then in accordance with university rules).

VI. Academic Dishonesty: It is the philosophy of the University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University.

"Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or to the attempt to commit such acts." (Regents' Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter VI, Section 3.2, Subdivision 3.22)

VII. Americans With Disabilities Act: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 9311—The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act—(ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is a renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens.

As a faculty member, In am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodation" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty at the beginning of the semester and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

VIII. Aid for Students: The University of Texas at Arlington supports a variety of student success programs to help you connect with the University and achieve academic success. They include learning assistance, developmental education, advising and mentoring, admission and transition, and federally funded programs. Students requiring assistance academically, personally, or socially should contact the Office of Student Success Programs at 817-272-6107 for more information and appropriate referrals.

IX. Tentative Course Calendar:
Week
Reading Assignment
Written Assignment
Topic
1 Palmer, Ch. 1-4 Introduction to twentieth-century hermeneutic philosophy
2 Palmer, Ch. 5-8; M-V Intro. Reading questions The hermeneutic tradition
3 Hirsch, Ch. 1; M-V, Ch. 5 Reading questions Text interpretation
4 Fish; M-V, Ch. 6 Reading questions Text interpretation
5 Palmer Ch. 9; Heidegger, Introduction Reading questions Heidegger's phenomenological method
6 Heidegger, Pt. 1, Div. 1, Ch. I-II Reading questions Heidegger's hermeneutic ontology of Dasein
7 Heidegger, Ch. IV, VI Reading questions Heidegger's hermeneutic ontology of Dasein
8 Heidegger, Div. 2, Ch I, III, IV(§63 only), V Reading questions, Short essay Gadamer and Habermas
9 Palmer, Ch. 12; M-V, Ch. 9 Reading questions Gadamer
10 Ricoeur, Ch. 1-5 Reading questions Ricoeur's hermeneutic phenomenology
11 Ricoeur, Ch. 6-7 Reading questions Ricoeur's hermeneutic phenomenology
12 Ricoeur, Ch. 8, 11 Reading questions Hermeneutic phenomenology
13 Wittgenstein, Part I, §§1-133 Reading questions Wittgenstein's linguistic philosophy
14 Wittgenstein, Part I, §§140, 154, 195-219, 241-251, 256-58, 293-4, 304-09, 326, 339, 370-74 Reading questions Wittgenstein's linguistic philosophy
15 Review Term paper Review

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