Westphal on Hermeneutical Objectivism

Merold Westphal on rampant objectivisim in hermeneutics, especially the brand that believes we can simply crank the text through a interpretation machine using certain “field-standard” rules and come out with THE definitive interpretation:

Any method or rules we adopt will themselves be interpretations of how we should proceed and are themselves caught up in one or another hermeneutical circle. It is nice to have a a method or set of rules to function as the criterion of interpretation. But the question can always be asked: by what criteria are these criteria justified? (Merold Westphal, Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church, 34)

For those wanting to declare that he’s denying objectivity – he’s not. He’s decrying the assumption that we finite, sinful, presuppositional creatures can simply sift the Word of the Almighty and Transcendent God through our hermeneutics machine and come out with THE answer. That’s called “objectivism”, not objectivity.


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