Haverford College
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Description: This course has two goals. The first is to read closely Gadamer’s Truth and Method in order to understand what philosophical hermeneutics is all about. The second is to explore Gadamer’s hermeneutics in relation to how we learn to read and interpret works of art and of thought that are both ancient and culturally other to us. We will focus on the case of traditional Chinese poetry and thought. (“The ‘Great Preface’ to the book of songs,” selected poetry by Wang Wei, “Interpretations of Poetry, by Wang Fu-Chih, and the “Inner Chapters” of Chuang Tzu).

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Philosophy 335a Topics in Modern European Philosophy- Topic: Hermeneutics

Kathleen Wright



Description: This course has two goals. The first is to read closely Gadamer’s Truth and Method in order to understand what philosophical hermeneutics is all about. The second is to explore Gadamer’s hermeneutics in relation to how we learn to read and interpret works of art and of thought that are both ancient and culturally other to us. We will focus on the case of traditional Chinese poetry and thought. (“The ‘Great Preface’ to the book of songs,” selected poetry by Wang Wei, “Interpretations of Poetry, by Wang Fu-Chih, and the “Inner Chapters” of Chuang Tzu).



Required and Recommended Texts: Gadamer, Truth and Method and The Relevance of the beautiful, Zehou Li, The Path of Beauty: A study of Chinese Aesthetics, and Stephen Van Zoeren, Poetry and Personality: Reading, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics in Traditional China, Stephen Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought.



Requirements: Weekly response papers, two papers, one oral presentation, and a term paper.



Course Outline



Weeks one through Five

Part One The Question of Truth in Interpreting Works of Art and Poetry- the Role of Play

Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 1-170

The “Inner Chapters” of Chuang Tzu

Selected poetry by Wang Wei



Week Six

Oral Presentations

Fall Break



Weeks Seven through Ten

Part Two The Question of Truth in Interpreting Works that are Historically Distant – the Role of Prejudice

Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 171-380

Wang Fu-Chih “Interpretations of Poetry”



Weeks Eleven through Fourteen

Part Three The Question of Truth in Interpreting Works that are Culturally Different- the Role of Language

Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 381-492

“The ‘Great Preface’ to the Book of Songs”