Resistant Musings

One of the conventional slogans that partially-informed readers parrot about postmodern thought and post-structuralism holds that it means ‘anything goes’, that it erases the distinction between right and wrong. But as a matter of demonstrable fact, specifically modern hermeneutics hasn’t advanced ‘correctness’ or general consensus on matters of interpretation over the past 250 years or so. Before Schleiermacher, people argued about interpretations, and today people still disagree about interpretation, and the kinds of argument have changed, but modern hermeneutics hasn’t brought about widespread resolution of interpretive problems.

And judgements of right or wrong that effectually change people’s minds begin from positions that were generally reckoned wrong before the argument convinced its readers, which (past) ‘wrongness’ was not obviated by the hermeneutics of correct interpretation. Likewise, proposals that do not Change people’s minds are always deemed not simply ‘wrong’, but ‘wrong for specifiable reasons’ — by postmodern thinkers as well as modernists.

In other words, the ‘anything goes’ and ‘no right or wrong’ bogeymen bogeypersons are the sham axioms that many of us have always maintained them to be, and ‘modern’ hermeneutics brings none of the benefits it is alleged to produce. This is why I am banging my head against differential hermeneutics.

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