Introductory comment by PG:
PG regards himself as reasonably intelligent and possessing a vocabulary that is larger than that of the average homo sapiens in the year 2020.
That said, he did not recall knowing (PG is at the age where there is a very occasional gap between knowing something and recalling that he knows something) much about Hermeneutics.
A quick online search took PG to a Quora comment from a self-described “Ph.D. Apologetics & Hermeneutics” addressing “What is the difference between exegesis and hermeneutics?” that seemed more informed and intelligent than other Quora comments PG has read:
Exegesis is the discipline of extracting, grammatically, out of the text what is says. Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting, based on what the text says, what it means; followed by validating that interpretation of what it means (e.g., “Scripture interprets Scripture), and then discerning the significance of that validated meaning.
Broadly speaking there are four steps to hermeneutics, defined by answering: 1) What does the text say? (Exegesis); 2) What does it mean? (Interpretation); 3) How do I know that’s what it means (Validation); 4) Now that I know what it means, so what? (Significance / Application).
With that background, PG plunged into an OP from The Los Angeles Review of Books titled, “Hermeneutics and the Framing of ‘Truth’.” The author of the LARB article is also the author of a book titled, “The Splintering of the American Mind.“
All of which requires a warning to readers of TPV:
From The Los Angeles Review of Books:
In his 2018 book Post-Truth, Lee McIntyre sums up what has become a mainstream warning about the complicity of so-called postmodern intellectuals in the rise of “post-truth” as the defining condition of today’s politics. He asks: “[C]an postmodernism be used by anyone who wants to attack science? Do the techniques work only for liberals […] or can they work for others also?” Citing plenty of evidence, in particular Robert Pennock’s convincing argument that intelligent design theory is “the bastard child of Christian fundamentalism and postmodernism,” McIntyre joins a small army of moderate, liberal voices in laying at least part of the blame on literary academics and their bewitchment by such continental thinkers as Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida.
Putting aside McIntyre’s astute-because-obvious prediction that “[s]ome will complain that the account just given is not sufficiently detailed or nuanced” (perhaps because, more than merely unnuanced, it’s flat-out incorrect), the real issue is the way McIntyre’s question, quoted above, misconstrues the philosophical tradition generalized under the misleading moniker of “postmodernism.” This tradition, existentialist and hermeneutic in orientation, is not a playbook of “techniques” to be randomly applied but rather a critical orientation that entails a thorough reformulation of Western thought. On the one hand, it moves away from the general presupposition of reality as a fixed, inert presence awaiting human appropriation; on the other hand, it embraces a suspicion that apparently neutral statements emerge from and promote positions that are themselves far from neutral, but rather rich in presuppositions, dependent on layers of context, and rife with vectors of power.
This background is particularly pertinent for a discussion of Santiago Zabala’s riveting and crucial new book, Being at Large: Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts, which analyzes the emergence of a political reality in which consensus around a basic set of facts seems alarmingly absent, in a way that portends catastrophic results for democracy itself. Zabala’s subtitle, with its reference to “alternative facts,” is a nod to Kellyanne Conway’s infamous defense of Donald Trump’s false claim regarding the size of the crowd at his inauguration. In defending the plurality of mutually contradictory “facts,” Conway has been joined by the president’s consiglieri, Rudolph Giuliani, who on Meet the Press in August 2018 defended counseling his client not to testify before the Mueller Russia probe because he might be accused of perjury if his account conflicted with those of his political enemies. When pressed by Chuck Todd that Trump could avoid perjury by simply telling the truth, this exchange ensued:
Giuliani: [W]hen you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well, that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth …
Todd: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like —
Giuliani: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth …
Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Review of Books
PG notes that truth and politics tend to be uneasy companions. In an era where everything is political, Post-Truth, Hermeneutics and “Validated Meanings” too often create slippery slopes descending to undesirable destinations for much of humanity.
A lie told often enough becomes the truth.Vladimir Lenin