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Philosophy of Humanities: Philosophy of Interpretation


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to students enrolled in the MA programme Philosophy 120 EC, specialisation Philosophy of Humanities.


How can we think of ‘meaning’ philosophically? What are philosophical issues raised in expressing, understanding and translating? Is it even possible to perceive things without interpreting them? What are the best ways to understand texts from different times and cultures, and why? Is an interpreter passive or always active and creative? In this module, we will address these questions by way of an historical and critical introduction to the movements of Hermeneutics and Deconstruction that make up the philosophy of interpretation in contemporary European philosophy.

We will first take a close look at the foundations of hermeneutics as thought by Schleiermacher and Dilthey, move to its subsequent development in the phenomenologies of Husserl and Heidegger and we will conclude with the post-phenomenological transformations in the philosophy of Interpretation in the thought of Gadamer, Derrida and Ricoeur.

Course objectives

This course aims to investigate the history of the philosophy of interpretation as put forward by the movements of Hermeneutics and Deconstruction by drawing upon its key thinkers. Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to compare, contrast and critically analyse the main arguments both written and orally.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the central ideas (and corresponding terminology) and their ungoing development and relevance within the history of the philosophy of interpretation;

  • the interrelation between the ideas put forward by Hermeneutics and Deconstruction and other areas of philosophy (such as ethics, phenomenology, ontology).

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • give a critical discussion of the ideas as developed by the key thinkers within the movements of Hermeneutics and Deconstruction;

  • formulate a reasoned argumentation of their position in the topics covered in this course;

  • present their ideas both orally and in writing.


See Timetables Philosophy 2014-2015 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load: 280 hours

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 42 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 56 hours

  • Time for preparation of presentation: 20 hours

  • Time to write a research paper (including reading / research): 162 hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation (20% of the final mark)

  • Research paper (80% of the final mark)

  • Assignments (prerequisite for participation in examinations)

One resit will be offered, consisting of the final paper. Any student who did not take the first examination cannot take the resit.


Blackboard is used for course information and announcements and for submitting the final research paper.

Reading list

To be announced.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Registration for courses and examinations

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable for courses in the column under the heading “Act.nbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr.H.W. Sneller


This course is mandatory for MA students in Philosophy (120 EC), specialisation Philosophy of Humanities.