PHIL30280 Philosophy of Interpretation

Academic Year 2023/2024

What philosophical issues are raised in expressing, translating and understanding? Can we even perceive things without interpreting them? What are the best ways to understand the works of other cultures and epochs, and why? Is the interpreter passive and neutral before the text, or is he or she always active and creative? How should we evaluate creative interpretations? In this module such questions will be considered by way of an historical and critical introduction to the movements of hermeneutics and deconstruction. These collectively comprise the philosophy of interpretation in recent European philosophy. We begin with the foundations of hermeneutics laid by Schleiermacher and Dilthey, proceed to its development in the phenomenologies of Husserl and Heidegger, and conclude with its post-phenomenological variants in the work of Ricoeur, Derrida and Cassin.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

A clear and wide-ranging comprehension of the most salient concepts in European philosophy of interpretation. An ability to place the relevant movements within the philosophical tradition that they develop on and criticise. An ability to report and analyse critically the major arguments advanced within and between the major strands of philosophy of interpretation. An understanding of the weaknesses and of the strengths and contemporary relevance of these strands.

Indicative Module Content:

Explanation, Interpretation and Understanding. Hermeneutics and the specific character of the human sciences. Expression and indication, perception and temporality. Circumspective perception and pre-understanding. Philosophical hermeneutics and deconstruction.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, stated availability for discussion immediately before and after lectures and during office hours. Weekly tutorials. Aims are to provide a sympathetic understanding and a critical attitude to the philosophical topics considered. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: One final exam with two questions to be answered, one from each half of the module.
A single A4 page with notes on both sides can be brought into the exam.
2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Essay: One in semester Essay, title to be specified on deadline announcement. Unspecified n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback offered to students after grading of essays, indicating strengths and weaknesses. Availability for feedback after examination.

Name Role
Dr Lisa Foran Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Nathan Mulder Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 10:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 15:00 - 15:50