2011-2013: Understanding the Other and Interpreting the Self

Abstract

In the 20th Century, philosophy and cultural anthropology went through a hermeneutic turn, which influenced the central debates of both disciplines. However, between these hermeneutic directions there was little direct contact. The present research project aims to provide the basis for a concrete dialogue between them. The interdisciplinary nature of the problem results not from the (apparently superficial) comparison between phenomenological hermeneutics and the interpretive anthropology (Victor W. Turner, Clifford Geertz), but arises from the interpretation of the positions of two founding and leading figures of the early 20th Century. This shows that the two disciplines have discovered a sphere of problems, which is fundamental for the humanities in general, and which can be seen in its entire complexity only in the medium of interdisciplinary issues: the role of the researching person in the process of understanding the other and interpreting the self; the task of their methodological control; the problem of an adequate conceptual language in order to describe these phenomena. Basic concepts such as understanding, interpretation, meaning and sense, experience, pre-structure, description, participant observation will be analysed closer in the context of an interpretation of the theoretical and autobiographical texts by M. Heidegger and B. Malinowski, in search of an interdisciplinary hermeneutics of the culturally other, which we designate as a xenological hermeneutics.

Project director: Dr. Gabriel Cercel