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Kant argued that knowledge is constituted by the sensible contents derived from the object of cognition and the a priori forms in the faculties of the mind. Thus, things considered in themselves, apart from the way mind organizes sensible contents, are in principle unknowable. With this argument, God and the soul became inaccessible because they do not exhibit sensible content. While Kant rejected the epistemological possibility of knowing God, he affirmed the possibility of knowledge in the realm of morality. Nevertheless, Kant relegated various theological concepts such as God and the immortality of soul from the realm of knowledge.

After Kant, the unknowability of the thing-in-itself, including God, became the central question. Fichte, Schelling, Hegel and others developed speculative metaphysics, which Kant rejected, in order to regain the philosophical ground upon which God and the immortality of the soul could be discussed. Kant's contemporary Jacobi was a German idealist who wrote the well known phrase that one could not enter into Kant's system without the idea of the thing-in-itself , but one could not remain within it. The significance of Herder's thoughts were recognized as German idealism declined in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; subsequently, his philosophy influenced the development of hermeneutics, philosophical hermeneutics, philosophy of culture, and philosophy of language.

After the major German idealists, German idealist speculative metaphysics has not been developed further; however, American transcendentalists continued to explore the spiritual and imaginative faculties of understanding. Kant's arguments, however, are still the subjects of current debates in philosophy. The word " idealism " has more than one meaning. The philosophical meaning of idealism here is that the properties we discover in objects depend on the way that those objects appear to us as perceiving subjects, and not something they possess "in themselves," apart from our experience of them.

The very notion of a " thing in itself " Kant 's notion should be understood as an option of a set of functions for an operating mind, such that we consider something that appears without respect to the specific manner in which it appears. Hence, "thing in itself" can be read as "thing considered in itself without consideration of the cognitive faculties of mind. The above framework was established by Kant.

These thinkers are all called "idealists" because they inquired into the spiritual elements of the mind to answer both ontological and epistemological questions. Their inquiries into the mind are often extended to inquiries into God. Other forms idealism, such as Plato 's, should be clearly distinguished from German Idealism. Those philosophers who are known today as German Idealists did not, however, call themselves German Idealists.

This coinage originated from the Neo-Kantians and Neo-Hegelians in the early twentieth century. While Kant is the pivotal philosopher, some include Kant in the German Idealists and stress the continuity of thought. Others, however, exclude him and stress the differences on the basis that post-Kantian German Idealists developed their thought in disagreement with Kant; furthermore, while those thinkers took God as the central subject in their thought, Kant limited the discussion of God to the realm of morality alone.

Kant - is sometimes considered the first of the German idealists. Kant's work purported to bridge the two dominant philosophical schools in the eighteenth century: 1 rationalism , which held that knowledge could be attained by reason alone a priori prior to experience , and 2 empiricism , which held that knowledge could be arrived at only through the senses. Kant's solution was to propose that while we could know particular facts about the world only via sensory experience, our mind have a priori form which are principles to organize sensory contents.

Knowledge is thus constituted by sensory contents we gain from experience and the forms which are built in the mechanism of mind. If knowledge is comprised of the sensory contents supplied by the object and the a priori forms of faculties of mind, things considered in themselves thing-in-itself or noumena are, in principle, unknowable. God , the world, and the soul are thus unknowable, from Kant's perspective, since none of them supply sensible contents. Because, the forms of the mind are a priori conditions of the possibility of knowledge, Kant called this position " transcendental idealism.

Thus, Berkeley viewed the world as ideas and developed subjective idealism. Kant, on the other hand, argued that objects of knowledge are "empirically real" yet they are "transcendentally ideal" for the reason that human knowledge about the object is a constitution of the empirical and the ideal. At the other end of the movement, Arthur Schopenhauer is not normally classed as a German idealist. He considered himself to be a transcendental idealist.

In his major work The World as Will and Idea he discusses his indebtedness to Kant, and the work includes Schopenhauer's extensive analysis the Critique. However, he stated, it must be taken on faith. A subject must believe that there is a real object in the external world that is related to the representation or mental idea that is directly known.

This faith or belief is a result of revelation or immediately known, but logically unproved, truth. The real existence of a thing-in-itself is revealed or disclosed to the observing subject. In this way, the subject directly knows the ideal, subjective representations that appear in the mind, and strongly believes in the real, objective thing-in-itself that exists outside of the mind. By presenting the external world as an object of faith, Jacobi attempted to legitimize belief and its theological associations.

In the German Mercury, Karl L. Reinhold published Letters Concerning the Kantian Philosophy in and They provided a clear explication of Kant's thoughts, which were previously inaccessible due to Kant's use of complex or technical language. Reinhold skipped Kant's complex arguments on the theory of knowledge , and started his explanation from the last section of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, which dealt with issues of God , soul , and freedom. Reinhold presented Kant's ideas in relation to his own views on God, soul, and the life after death. Reinhold's work was well read by intellectuals and, at the same time, aroused the concern to Kant's philosophy.

Reinhold started, not from definitions, but, from a principle that referred to mental images or representations in a conscious mind. In this way, he divided knowledge into 1 the knowing subject, or observer, 2 the known object, and 3 the image or representation in the subject's mind. In order to understand transcendental idealism, it is necessary to reflect deeply enough to distinguish experience as consisting of these three components: subject, representation, and object. Kant argued that a mental idea or representation must be of something external to the mind, which is empirically real. While Kant held the empirical realist thesis, he also argued that the forms of understanding such as the principle of cause-and-effect.

Gottlob Ernst Schulze pointed out the inconsistency of Kant's argument. In his view, this common denominator is transcendental philosophy. Phenomenology is a philosophical project emerging from a critical diagnosis of western culture in the 20 th century. Opposing the general cultural tendency to reduce the dimensions of sense and being to pure facts, the point of departure for phenomenology is to note that whatever appears to us is given to our consciousness and that the appearance of things presupposes the idea of correlation.

The only object of phenomenology is intentionality or original phenomenological correlation, which is the transcendental field for constituting any sense, including the sense of the real world. As far the phenomenological method is concerned chapter 1 , with which phenomenology as such happens to be identified, Schnell points to four points of convergence for the shaping of sense: transcendentality, meaningfulness, eidetics and correlativity.

That is why the second sense characterizes the phenomenological method as investigations oriented at sense, or as an attempt to make things comprehensible. The third moment, that is eidetics, protects the phenomenological cognition from the threat of collapsing into investigating fact contra psychologism. Eventually, the fourth moment has already been mentioned in the context of the concept of transcendentality; on the grounds of phenomenology, correlation proceeds in a three-fold manner: 1 It is still a pre-phenomenological correlation between the subject and object of experience; 2 Strictly phenomenological correlation of noetic-noematic nature; 3 Deep pre-phenomenal correlation, understood as pre-immanence, pure anonymity.

Additionally there is 2 Eidetic variation, 3 Phenomenological description, and 4 Phenomenological construction. What merits attention is a complex description of the eidetic variation, with the description in question introducing a characteristically phenomenological concept of essence. This very concept appears to be quite different from what traditional philosophy understands by essence as opposed, on the latter view, to facts and particulars.

From the point of view of the well-known opposition of essence and phenomenological fact, Eidos is something third. There is a relation of mutual dependence between the objects of phenomenology and the existence of the phenomenological method. There is another concept related to the above-delineated phenomenological method; namely, the concept of understanding, which makes the Husserlian phenomenology receptive to Heideggerian motifs chapter II.

The concept of understanding operates within a tension between the Self and the Other; that is between the Self and what is other than myself. As an element of the phenomenological method, the previously mentioned concept renders phenomenology capable of addressing the problem of legitimizing a problem that haunts the humanities claims for truth and epistemic accomplishments of the sciences. Schnell brings out a methodical outline of understanding in two steps. First, he refers to historical conceptions of understanding in the thought of Heidegger and Fichte.

What is Idealism?

Second, he heeds two aspects of understanding which the afore-mentioned thinkers failed to consider and which are, however, essential to the phenomenological understanding. This will be addressed further along. Chapter III points to another route towards phenomenology. The idea of grounding, constituting a guiding idea of phenomenology itself, derives its motifs from two traditions: classical German philosophy and English empiricism of the 17 th century. Resorting to the pronouncements of Husserl, Heidegger and Levinas, Schnell notes that phenomenology is possible only as idealism which combines in itself both a transcendental and ontological dimension.

The premises of this reasoning are to be found in classical German philosophy, especially in Fichte, according to whom one legitimizes cognition by virtue of non-sensory intuitive cognition. The intuitive legitimization of cognition has different modi. First and foremost, it refers to the first level of justifying cognition. That is, it refers to the level of the phenomenological description of immanent data of consciousness.

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At a second stage, with this stage entering the sphere of pre-immanence, aware or conscious experience must be supplemented with the annihilation of occurring closures. The positive side of annihilation is the already-mentioned construction. Its intuitive dimension is instantiated as history, conceived of as genesis; that is habitualizations and sedimentations. These are creative accomplishments of a phenomenologist who constructs whatever is necessary for validating cognition at the deepest level.

This is the lesson from Kant. However, Fichte goes even further than Husserl by demonstrating in the double reflection how what enables cognition is possible: how are conditions of possibility possible themselves? According to the latter, in order to legitimize knowledge, it is not sufficient to resort to a form of knowledge as such. One should also take into consideration its content. The explication of this relations proceeds in reference to three categories and dimensions: truth, constitution, and genesis.

Every relation of conditioning presupposes a shift between registers, wherein one asserts either presence or absence — depending on the perspective assumed: be it the conditioning or the conditioned. Then again, what applies at this point is the trope of enabling doubling.

A second historico-background for Husserlian phenomenology, next to German classical philosophy and of equally importance, is English empiricism chapter IV. Husserl dedicated much attention to the Humean achievements particularly towards the end of his life; that is, in the period in which—on the one hand—he recognized Lebenswelt as a primary category of his phenomenology—and on the other hand—he described phenomenology as reflection on history.

The said objectivism supersedes the world of natural approach with a mathematical substrate, understood as a being in itself. Instead, contesting the above can count in favour of the modes of actualization realized by imagination. This implies that the process of making comprehensible must avail itself of a different notion of truth from the one traditionally attributed to objective sciences. Here we are facing the following dilemma: either we preserve the participation of the subject in the word, which would make the world-constitution non-radical. Or, alternatively, the constitution is radical, and then what would be required is that the subjecthood, as related to the world, is to be rescinded.

Therefore, at this point there occurs some tension between the natural approach to the world and the transcendental approach. In Husserl, this paradox is solved by projecting it onto the problem of the relations between primordial-Self and intersubjectivity and between primordial self and objectified worldly self.

This very reference to the lowest layers of the transcendental life and being is reminiscent of the issue of the Absolute. According to the latter thinker, phenomenology is purportedly the contemporary paradigm case of the philosophical standpoint, labelled as correlationism, wherein there is no possibility of thinking a being in itself without simultaneously relating this very being to thinking itself.

Schnell takes the sting out of these indictments in four steps. The main argument against the phenomenological correlationism is to be the one from ancestrality. The main thrust of the argument is the claim that any version of correlationism faces an insuperable problem posed by the fact of existence of the events prior to the emergence of conscious beings who could have experienced these events. This argument is easy to refute from the perspective of transcendentalism. Instead, what the above philosophies deal with are the conditions of possibility of possible experience.

Believing that the transcendental consciousness must be always embodied in a physical person and defining what is possible in terms of the lack of what is actual, Meillassoux misunderstands the transcendental status of phenomenological subjecthood and its function of making comprehensible what is genuinely possible. It is erroneous to conceive of the relation of phenomenology to reality in the same vein and at the same level as one conceives of the relation of natural sciences to reality. Apart from that in the process of a critical analysis speculative realism proves to be correlationism in disguise.


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A positive side of the discussion is the attempt to engage phenomenology in elucidating the profoundest foundations of the correlation, which should simultaneously ensure the meaningfulness of what is — in both daily and scientific experience understood as reality it itself. In the course of elaborating this very idea, the three fundamental motifs of correlationism are uncovered. First and foremost, it is to be established what is the foundation and essence of correlation; second, what is the principle of making phenomenological cognition possible and—along with this—of granting sense; third, what phenomenological reflection consists in.

Therefore, what makes up the transcendental matrix of correlationism are three motifs: correlation, sense and reflection. Schnell outlines the said three motifs in the following manner. Schnell distinguishes three types of induction, which correspond with three layers of the transcendental matrix of correlation.

At the first stage of reflection, there emerges an intentional structure of consciousness, designing sense and making cognition comprehensible. Each of these structures have a dualistic form: intentionality is divided between a subject and object; what designing sense consists in is its creation and the reception thereof; making cognition comprehensible is spread between the original Urbild and a copy Abbild. At the second stage, these dualities get both deepened and dynamized: consciousness becomes self-consciousness, the apparently ultimate truth of fulfilling intentions is getting hermeneutically distanced and the relations between the original and a copy within the principle of cognition becomes malleable in the process of the simultaneous designing and annihilating.

Eventually, at the third stage, self-reflection becomes inward verinnerlichende self-reflection. First, this self-reflection opens a pre-phenomenal, pre-immanent sphere of phenomenological constitution; second, it deepens the hermeneutic truth and elevates it to the rank of a generative truth. In place of what is given, a construction emerges. What is at stake here is to make the very act of making possible transparent.

What is thereby meant is to enable the enabling, which characterizes the nature of what is transcendental. These workings laws of reflection express—next to making understanding possible—enabling being. For, eventually, what we deal with at the lowest level of what is transcendental is not pure reflective asserting. It does not coincide with reality. It does not denote any entity. Instead, it can be characterized in the following three-fold manner. In the last chapter VI , Schnell returns to the question of reality. He searches for the motives for raising this question in historico-philosophical problematics of modernity, inaugurated by Descartes and then promptly revolutionized by transcendental philosophy.

From this perspective, one can clearly see that the question of reality already appeared in the context of epistemological problematics, within which reality is a concept standing in contradistinction to the subjective experiences of imagination, dream or methodically complex intellectual operations.

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The Kantian attempt to redefine the problem introduces the idea of correlationism. However, even this idea is originally of purely epistemological character, with which, on the grounds of phenomenology, only Heidegger clearly polemizes. According to Schnell, one can distinguish four fundamental forms of correlationism. The first of them is to be found in Kant: it is a correlation of judgement and self-consciousness. The second is introduced by Fichte: it is a correlation of Being and thinking. The third one—phenomenological—is inaugurated by Husserl: it is the intentional correlation.

The fourth one stems derives from Heidegger: it is the correlation of being-in-the-world. Schnell pauses to consider the third form of correlation, known mainly from late writings and manuscripts by Husserl in which he develops his investigations pertaining to genetic phenomenology. He combines the notion of constitution with the one of genesis. As Husserl says:. The said history of consciousness is given in transcendental experience. Schnell distinguishes three semantic moments of the process in question: the constituting moment bildend-erzeugende , the moment of imagination Einbildung , and the one introduced by Marc Richir: the constituting-schematizing moment bildend-schematisierende.

With reference to Richir, who was searching for the novel grounding of phenomenology, Schnell highlights the third moment and claims that at the very bottom of any act of a cognizing subject referring to Being, there is no perception but fantasy certainly, as conceived of in the transcendental sense. According to Schnell, what is an image is both reality and the said pre-phenomenon. This in turn means that the former as an empty concept gets annihilated.

The construction thus assumes a malleable form. The last sections bring an answer to two originally posed questions: 1 How may we understand phenomenological cognition in its most radical form? At the end, let us take the liberty of posing several questions of a polemical-critical nature. Undoubtedly, the content of the book evidences the fact that the author is well-versed in the phenomenological problematics and he freely chooses the issue that he deems necessary to highlight the identity and the peculiarities of phenomenology.

To what extent do those questions stem from the fact that the author desires to validate his vision—rather arbitrarily assumed—of what, in his opinion, phenomenology may be? Furthermore, the next question is this: To what extent is the reconstruction of the motifs selected by Schnell—the motifs being known to the phenomenological movement—an apt interpretation? It seems that the purpose may be most easily identified in the light of the title of the scrutinized work. In other words, what is at stake is an answer to the question of what phenomenology is.

Does the author succeed in reaching his goal? In this sense, the book is not, thematically and historically speaking, of introductory character, which, if it were, would make it useful to the adherents of phenomenology barely initiated into the art of philosophizing in this fashion. Certainly, the above does not translate into any sort of indictment. Phenomenology is an introductory science in the five-fold sense: 1 It is a science about origins; 2 It a science designed from scratch; namely, by dint of systematic maneuvers which are supposed to ensure to phenomenology relevant sourceness and presuppositionlessness; 3 It is a point of departure for other sciences; 4 It is located at the beginning of its historical development; and, eventually 5 It is of preliminary nature.

Phenomenology is essentially a research work, it is active searching, questioning, also going astray and getting lost. In this sense, the scrutinized work alludes to all those attempts which can be subsumed under the umbrella term of German idealism. It is especially Kant and Fichte, to whom Schnell makes frequent historical references, that used to present their respective philosophies in a rudimentary form which was meant to eventually assume the form of a system.

After all, the said ability is—as I believe—a distinctive feature of phenomenology as well as its trademark, thus distinguishing it from the other movements in the history of philosophy. The said traits are not only distinctive features marking the realm of phenomenology off against the backdrop of the history of philosophy. They also constitute its philosophical mission, so to speak. Elevating the motif of the question to the rank of a fundamental methodological directive—which entails the altered understanding of cognition and being—it dissociates itself from the question of oblivion , with the oblivion having lasted since the times of Aristotle.

To revoke the question is to restore to philosophy its proper dimension of self-realization. By the same token, this is what the historical importance of phenomenology consists in too. After all, grasping phenomenology in the light of the question stated by the title of the reviewed book shows more than merely the peculiarities of phenomenology against the backdrop of the history of philosophy. Certainly, these are not pure possibilities but possibilities of historical nature. The internal richness of the possibilities of the idea of phenomenology, and which is what we can aptly label as its internal problematicity, somehow a priori resists any attempt to exclusively identify phenomenology with one of these possibilities.

This principle applies both to its thematic and historical aspect. The question opens its own historicalness of phenomenology, with this historicalness directing us to philosophico-historical aspect of the phenomenological movement.


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  • One would be ill-advised to reduce this internal problematicity either to a specific set of problems or to only selected attempts at solving them. Forster and Kristin Gjesdal immediately make clear that the volume differs in approach from other, similar guides to hermeneutics. Whereas there are a number of volumes available that offer histories of hermeneutics or treatments of individual hermeneutical theorists, this book focuses on the question of how hermeneutical issues relate to different fields of study, such as theology, literature, history and psychoanalysis.

    In this way, the authors aim to demonstrate how hermeneutical thinking thrives and develops through concrete interdisciplinary reflection. In this essay, Bultman offers a historical overview of different approaches to the interpretation of religious texts and focuses in particular on the various approaches that were developed and debated during the German Enlightenment. Although Bultman offers a clear overview of different approaches within biblical hermeneutics, to a certain extent his precise aim and argument remain unclear, with the central questions behind his overview not made explicit.

    In an interesting contribution in the second chapter, Dalia Nassar focuses on the way in which the study of nature in the eighteenth century involved hermeneutical methods and insights that transformed the way in which we approach and represent the natural world. Nassar starts her investigation by highlighting the fact that the emergence of a hermeneutics of nature that can be found in their works must be understood in light of the liberalization of science in the mid-eighteenth century.

    This liberalization meant that science was no longer understood as founded on mathematics, which led to the introduction of new modes of knowledge in scientific research. Interpreting nature thus implies seeing the parts in their relation to the whole and, in turn, seeing how the whole is manifest in the parts. It is in their works that hermeneutics becomes concerned explicitly with methodological questions. Rush sketches the historical and philosophical circumstances in which this turn comes about.

    In particular, he explores the different stances taken by hermeneutical philosophers such as Hamann and Herder, and idealist philosophers such as Fichte and Hegel, towards the relation between thought and language. Particularly interesting is his reading of the later Hegel, in which he emphasizes that Hegel can be read not as the abstract metaphysician he is often seen to be but as a philosopher engaged with hermeneutical issues.

    Zammito explores the disciplinary self-constitution of history and the role of hermeneutics in that disciplinary constitution. Through this exploration, Zammito aims to show a way out of contemporary debates on the scientific status of disciplinary history. The historian thus does not aim to relive the past but to understand it.

    Frederick C. Beiser also connects a contemporary debate to the period in which disciplinary history emerged. Beiser notes that, starting in the s, there was a sharp rise in interest in the philosophy of history among analytic philosophers in the Anglophone world, but that these analytic discourses almost completely ignored the German historicist and hermeneutical tradition. The main cost of this, Beiser argues, has been the sterility and futility of much recent philosophical debate, and in particular the long dispute about historical explanation.

    The dispute has been between positivists, who defend the thesis that covering laws are the sole form of explanation, and their idealist opponents, who hold that there is another form of explanation in history. One of the reasons this debate has now ended in a stand-off can be found in the neglect of alternative perspectives, and in particular that of the historicist and hermeneutical tradition.

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    Beiser argues that if these perspectives had been taken into account by analytic philosophers, they would have recognized that there are goals and methods of enquiry other than determining the covering laws. Had they done so, their focus of attention may have shifted in the more fruitful direction of investigating the methods of criticism and interpretation that are actually used by historians.

    Beiser therefore concludes that the philosophy of history in the Anglophone world would be greatly stimulated and enriched if it took into account these issues and the legacy of the historicist and hermeneutical tradition. As Katsafanas notes, Nietzsche is deeply concerned with the way in which human beings interpret phenomena, but also draws attention to the ways in which seemingly given experiences have already been interpreted.

    Nietzsche is clearly doing more than this. According to Nietzsche, the fact that a conscious interpretation is distorting, superficial or falsifying does not mean that it can be ignored. On the contrary, these interpretations are of immense importance, because they often influence the nature of the interpreted object.

    As Gardner shows, Freud may be regarded as returning to an early point in the history of hermeneutics, in which the unity of the hermeneutical project with the philosophy of nature was asserted. In line with this thought, which was abandoned by later hermeneutical thinkers, Freud can be seen as defending the idea that in order to make sense of human beings we must offer an interpretation of nature as a whole. Crowe shows how Heidegger opened up a radically new dimension of hermeneutical inquiry, because his conception of hermeneutics as a phenomenological enterprise intended to be a primordial science of human experience in its totality, and in this way took hermeneutics far beyond its traditional purview.

    We can, for instance, only question the authority of aspects of our tradition on the basis of other aspects, such as inherited ideals and principles that we do not question, just as we can only reflect on our experiences if we do not begin by distancing ourselves from them. Full transparency is therefore not possible. Forster focuses on the French contributions to hermeneutics during the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. In the first part of the chapter, Foster argues that the roots of German hermeneutics were largely French. According to Forster, this anti-universalism of German hermeneutics was largely a French achievement and was exported from France to Germany.

    In particular, Montaigne and the early Montesquieu and Voltaire had developed an anti-universalist position, which emphasized, for example, profound differences in mindset between different cultures and periods. In the second part of the chapter, Forster focuses on some key figures within twentieth-century French philosophy who contributed to the development of hermeneutics, despite not describing themselves as hermeneutical thinkers. One of them is Jean-Paul Sartre, who gave a central role to interpretation in his early existentialism developed in Being and Nothingness , where he included what Forster calls a hermeneutical theory of radical freedom: although we do not create the world itself, we do create the meanings or interpretations through which we become acquainted with it.

    Paul Ricoeur is the only French thinker Forster discusses who not only contributed to hermeneutics but also regarded himself as a hermeneutical thinker. It is, however, somewhat strange that Forster does not give much attention to the way in which Paul Ricoeur, as the only philosopher he discusses who also regarded himself as working in the hermeneutical tradition, described his own philosophical project as a hermeneutical one.

    As Marchal points out, philosophers in Western academia only rarely examine reflections on interpretation from non-Western traditions. Instead of presenting an overview of the different hermeneutical theories and practices around the globe, Marchal therefore focuses on one particular example: the history of Confucian interpretive traditions in China.

    After this first part, Marchal changes the scope of his investigation and focuses on the possibility of a dialogue between Western and non-Western hermeneutics.

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    As Marchal shows, Western hermeneutical thinkers from the eighteenth century, such as Herder and von Humboldt, engaged with non-Western thought and languages, while most representatives of twentieth-century hermeneutics highlighted the Greek roots of European culture and emphasized the idea that we are tied to this heritage. Many non-Western philosophers, however, have engaged with ideas that were formulated by Heidegger and Gadamer.

    Nevertheless, such non-Western philosophers often unfold their understanding of European philosophical problems in their own terms. Marchal concludes his short introduction to non-Western approaches to hermeneutics by emphasizing the value of engaging with hermeneutical thinkers from other traditions. Culler starts his investigation by noting that in literary studies there is a distinction between hermeneutics and poetics: while hermeneutics asks what a given text means, poetics asks about the rules and conventions that enable the text to have the meanings and effects it does for readers.

    Poetics and hermeneutics therefore work in different directions: hermeneutics moves from the text toward a meaning, while poetics moves from effects or meanings to the conditions of possibility of such meanings. In his historical overview of literary criticism, Culler highlights two important evolutions that enable us to explain the absence of modern hermeneutics within contemporary literary studies.

    The first is the revolution in the concept of literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In this period, the concept of literature as mimesis shifted to a concept of literature as the expression of an author. Although this means literary criticism no longer assesses works in terms of the norms of genres, of verisimilitude and appropriate expression, most discussion of literature nevertheless remains evaluative rather than interpretive.

    The change in the conception of literature, however, also inspired German thinkers such as Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher to propose a general hermeneutics, as opposed to the special hermeneutics that had focused on biblical or Classical texts. Once the mimetic model of literature is displaced by an expressive model, Culler writes, the question of what a work expresses also arises. The arguments about what kind of meaning a work might be taken to embody or express seldom draws on this hermeneutical tradition.

    One of the reasons for this is the second evolution that Cullers highlights, which occurred in the twentieth century when hermeneutics itself changed. Modern hermeneutical thinkers such as Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer shifted their focus to the understanding of understanding. In this way, their hermeneutical theories offer little guidance on interpretation or in distinguishing valid interpretations from invalid ones. Poscher, however, disagrees with Gadamer about what exactly can be learned. As Poscher summarizes, Gadamer thought that what could be learned from the law is that an element of application must be integrated into the concept of interpretation.

    Poscher develops this thought by exploring the different hermeneutical activities in which a lawyer must engage when applying the law to a given case, such as legal interpretation, rule-following, legal construction and the exercise of discretion, and he highlights the important distinctions between these different means for the application of the law to a specific case.

    To prove the point that hermeneutics is not a monistic practice but rather a complex whole of different practices applicable to hermeneutics in general, Poscher draws some minor parallels between the different hermeneutics applied in law and in art.

    These parallels are often very clear, although the fact that they are often reduced to brief remarks means that Poscher does not really engage with debates on the interpretation of art. Nevertheless, these remarks do indicate that such a profound comparison between legal hermeneutics and the hermeneutics of art could be an interesting subject for further investigation. Gjesdal reveals that different responses can be given to the question of what hermeneutics is, and she explores the various answers.

    First, she outlines the Heideggerian-Gadamerian conception of hermeneutics, in which philosophy is identified with hermeneutics and hermeneutics is identified with ontology. According to Gjesdal, this tendency is concerning because it takes no interest in the different challenges emerging from within the different areas of the human sciences, nor does it acknowledge different subfields of philosophy or textual interpretation. When looking for an answer to the question of how the relationship between hermeneutics and the human sciences might be understood, an investigation of hermeneutics in its early, Enlightenment form, seems to be more fruitful, Gjesdal argues.

    Through such an investigation, Gjesdal shows that hermeneutical thinkers such as Herder, Schleiermacher and Dilthey combined an interest in hermeneutical theory with hermeneutical practice and in this way can be seen as an inspiration to explore our understanding of the relationship between philosophy and the other sciences. Philosophy would then no longer be seen as the king among the sciences, and our thinking about the relationship between philosophy and the human sciences would start with a more modest attitude and a willingness not simply to teach but also to learn from neighboring disciplines.

    It is clear that for a large share of the contributions to this companion, the history of hermeneutics itself and the way in which this history has been constructed by later hermeneutical thinkers is under investigation, leading to new insights into contemporary debates. In this way, this companion as a whole can be seen as engaging with the question of what hermeneutics is, with the various approaches leading to the formulation of different answers to this question.

    Furthermore, the different readings of the history of hermeneutics also means that a number of contributions go beyond the traditional understanding of hermeneutics, drawing attention to thinkers who are not commonly associated with the field. In this way, the approach to hermeneutics does not remain limited to an investigation of the works and ideas of those thinkers who are generally understood as belonging to the hermeneutical tradition, which also makes the relevance of hermeneutical thinking to diverse contemporary disciplines and debates more apparent.

    Although the diverse contributions to this companion engage with the fundamental question of what hermeneutics is in different ways, this book as a whole will probably not serve as a good introduction for someone who is not already familiar with philosophical hermeneutics and its history to some extent. Some of the contributions are successful in offering the reader a clear introduction to the subject and discipline they discuss, but this is not always the case, with some authors presupposing a lot of prior knowledge on the subject.

    Nevertheless, for those already familiar with the subjects discussed, several contributions to this companion will offer the reader fruitful insights and perhaps provoke thought that invites further research. Although a Marxist, at least of sorts, he was invited to Berlin in by radical students to whom he allegedly advised that they should turn their attention instead to learning ancient Greek! Solovyov is likely to be a name less familiar to an English-speaking philosophical audience. Although generally regarded as the greatest Russian philosopher of the nineteenth century, his works are almost invariably classified as belonging to religious philosophy.

    We find in them, especially his early writings, hardly a trace of the concerns that would rivet either the budding German neo-Kantian movement or the logic of such figures as Bolzano, Frege, or Husserl. Solovyov, instead, was deeply religious in that his beliefs were carried over into his philosophical investigations, something that cannot be said about the other figures mentioned.

    Solovyov did seek to express his religious faith in the form of a philosophy employing his knowledge of both the history of philosophy and philosophical terminology, suitably adapted of course. Thus, a reader coming with contemporary analytic sensibilities will look in askance at such claims as that ideal Humanity, the Soul of the World note the capitalizations is an individual, free, and independent being Solovyov, certainly, writes in such a manner.

    However, should a twentieth-century philosopher let such a claim pass freely? To be sure, he offers a masterful paraphrase, but it is just that and no more than that. During a second period a Catholic influence predominated, and the third period or standpoint, which was also the briefest, was represented by just one writing, the three conversations known in English translation as War, Progress and the End of History from The metaphysical system Solovyov had in mind at the time of writing his Crisis text was that presented by the Eastern Church Fathers.

    For example, when he published his major systematic work the Critique of Abstract Principles he had not yet, nor would he ever, have a hammered out comprehensive philosophy of art. The third period is the longest. Solovyov had no intention of replacing Christianity with philosophy of any sort. In a sense, we cannot truly be surprised. Petersburg philosophy professor Ivan Ivanovich Lapshin.

    What kinship there is between the Christian doctrine and Neoplatonism can be easily explained through the influence of Neoplatonism on early Christianity, when the latter was still in its formative stages. Solovyov himself gave neither any direct indication nor any evidence of the source or sources of his own conception of the Christian Trinity.