Volume 22, Issue 2, Spring 2018
Hermeneutics and the Meaning of Life
Hermeneutics approaches the meaning of life quite uniquely: it grasps the intrinsic intelligibility of life by employing a universal concept of meaning, applicable to all phenomena. While other conceptions identify the meaning of life with values or scopes, hermeneutics starts from a grass-roots work on the meanings that are embedded at every level of reality. In this paper, I analyze this approach, especially focusing on Husserl, Heidegger, and Gadamer. First, I outline Husserl’s philosophy of meaning as developed in response to the crisis of meaning. Second, I discuss Heidegger’s concept of meaning and his understanding of life as self-movement. Third, I analyze Gadamer’s concept of common sense (viewed as the grasp of the totality of life) and his idea of hermeneutic mediation that conveys the meaning of life itself.