Sociology 725
Seminar in Pragmatist Hermeneutics and Biocritique


Instructor: Dmitri Shalin
http://www.unlv.edu/people/dmitri-shalin

Office: CBC-237, 895-0259, shalin@unlv.nevada.edu
Office hours: Tuesday 2:00-4:00, 6:30-7:00 p.m., or by appointment
http://www.unlv.edu/centers/cdclv


SYLLABUS

EMPHASIS OF COURSE:  The class offers a sociological examination of the interpretation theory, its historical development, and contemporary applications within the political, economic, legal, and artistic domains.  The course starts with ancient Greece where the problem of understanding was first articulated as a philosophical and rhetorical theme, engages biblical exegesis which furnished a paradigm for close textual reading, and then engages the humanistic tradition that informed Dilthey’s and Weber’s approach to hermeneutics as a foundation of human sciences.  Then, focus shifts to the competing programs in contemporary interpretation theory:  the Nietzschean-Freudian approach to hermeneutics as an exercise in suspicion, Heidegger-Gadamer’s ontological hermeneutics, Derrida’s deconstructive hermeneutics, Ricoeur’s structural hermeneutics, and Habermas’s critical hermeneutics.  Drawing on Peirce and Mead, students learn how pragmatist semiotics moves hermeneutics beyond its traditional preoccupation with texts and towards understanding the emotionally-laden forms of signification.  The final section articulates the program of biocritical research that finds meaning on the intersection of symbolic-discursive, somatic-affective, and behavioral-performative signs. 

Each seminar session is divided into two parts:  (1) a collective exercise where participants interpret reading samples; (2) a lecture/discussion devoted to specific programs of hermeneutic inquiry.  At the semester’s start, students are provided with a set of textual samples that will serve as a basis for weekly discussions.  Students interested in the course might want to check an article “Signing in the Flesh:  Notes on Pragmatist Hermeneutics” that articulates principles of pragmatist hermeneutics (URL:  http://www.asanet.org/galleries/default-file/Sept07STFeature.pdf) and browse through the Erving Goffman Archives which set up the program of biocritical research (URL:  http://www.unlv.edu/centers/cdclv/ega/index.html).  For an example of biocritique exploring the interfaces between biography and theory see “Goffman’s Biography and the Interaction Order:  A Study in Biocritical hermeneutics” (URL:  http://www.unlv.edu/centers/cdclv/ega/bios.html).

REQUIREMENTS:  A mid-term examination is scheduled for the ninth week of the class.  Students make a class presentation, interpreting a cultural artifact of their choice.  At the end of the semester, students are expected to write a research paper on the order of 10-15 double-spaced type-written pages that applies the principles of pragmatist hermeneutics to a domain or a problem area, showing how linguistic, emotional, and behavioral signs bear on the question of meaning.  The final grade will reflect student’s presentation, mid-term exam, final paper, and contribution to class discussions.

OUTLINE OF TOPICS:

  1. Introduction:  Interpretation of Meaning as a Theoretical and Practical Problem
  2. The Greco-Roman World:  Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in the Classical Age
  3. Biblical Exegesis:  Literal, Figurative, and Spiritual Meaning
  4. Midrashic Hermenetuics:  Story-Telling and Practical Life
  5. Humanism and Reformation:  The Sources of Control Over the Canonical Text
  6. Schleiermacher:  Romantic Hermeneutics
  7. Dilthey and Weber:  Hermeneutics of the Human Sciences
  8. Nietszche and Freud:  Depth Hermeneutics
  9. Heidegger and Gadamer:  Ontological Hermeneutics
  10. Derrida:  Deconstructive Hermeneutics
  11. Ricoeur:  Structural Hermeneutics
  12. Habermas:  Critical Hermeneutics
  13. Peirce:  Semiotic Hermeneutics
  14. James, Dewey, and Mead:  Hermeneutics as a Study of Embodied Social Forms
  15. Signing in the Flesh:  Biocriticial Hermeneutics and The Play of Difference Between Linguistic, Emotional, and Behavioral Signs
  16. Pragmatist Hermeneutics:  The Pragmatic-Discursive Misalignment as a Human Condition

READINGS:  A book by Gerald L. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, is adopted as a primary text for the course. It is supplemented with an anthology edited by John J. Stuhr, Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy of Hermeneutics. A special set of materials provided by the instructor will serve as a fodder for class discussions.  In the list that follows, required readings are marked with an asterisk (*).  Other works are suggested for independent studies and/or work on research papers.


READING ASSIGNMENTS:

1. Introduction:  Interpretation of Meaning as a Theoretical and Practical Problem

*D. Shalin, “Signing in the Flesh: Notes on Pragmatist Hermeneutics.” Sociological Theory 25 (Fall 2007): 193-224.
*S. Mailloux, “Articulation and Understanding: The Pragmatic Intimacy Between Rhetoric and Hermeneutics,” pp. 378-394 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
*D. Shalin, “Interfacing Biography, Theory, and History: The Case of Erving Goffman.” In Erving Goffman: Biographical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives.  Special Issue of Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37. No. 1.  Edited by Dmitri N. Shalin (forthcoming).
D. Shalin, “Romanticism and the Rise of Sociological Hermeneutics.” Social Research 53 (Spring 1986): 77-123.
D. Shalin, “Legal Pragmatism, an Ideal Speech Situation, and the Fully Embodied Democratic Process.” Nevada Law Journal 5 (Winter 2005): 433-478.
R. Shusterman, Practicing Philosophy. Pragmatism and Philosophical Life. Introduction.
R. Bontekoe, Dimensions of the Hermeneutic Circle, Introduction.
R. Palmer, Hermeneutics, chs. 2-3.
K. J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text, Introduction.
D. Hiley, J. Bohman, and R. Shusterman, The Interpretive Turn, Introduction.
M. Walzer, Interpretation and Social Criticism, ch. 3.

2. The Greco-Roman World:  Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in the Classical Age

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, chs. 1-2.
*G. A. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric, chs. 2, 3, 6.
*H.G. Gadamer, “Rhetoric and Hermenetuics,” pp. 49-59 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, edited by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
*P. Rocouer, “Rhetoric, Poetic, Hermeneutic,” pp. 60-72 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
B. Vikers, In Defense of Rhetoric, Pp. 1-82.
K. Eden, Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition, chs. 1-2.
T. M. Conley, Rhetoric in the European Tradition, chs. 1-2.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, ch. 1.
C. Alteri, “Toward a Hermeneutic Responsive to Rhetorical Theory,” pp. 90-107 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
R. E. Palmer, “What Hermeneutics Can Offer Rhetoric,” pp. 108-131 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, edited by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.

3. Midrashic Hermenetuics:  Story-Telling and Practical Life

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 5.
*J. Weingreen, From Bible to Mishna. The Continuity of Tradition, pp. 1-33.
*D. Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash, chs. 1, 2, 8.
J. Neusner, Midrash as Literature: The Primacy of Documentary Discourse, chs.1-3.
M. Fishbane, The Garments of Torah, chs. 1, 3, 9.
G. Scholem, Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, chs. 2-3.

4. Biblical Exegesis:  Literal, Figurative, and Spiritual Meaning

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, chs. 3-5.
*M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 10-19.
*K. Eden, Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition, ch. 3.
D. G. Marshall, “Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and the Interpretation of Scripture: Augustine to Robert of Basevorn,” pp. 275-289 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
K. J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text, Part 1.
A. C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics, pp. 142-198.
H. G. Gadamer, Truth and Method.
G. R. Osborne, The Hermenmeutical Spiral. A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, chs. 9, 11.
G. Eichele, The Control of Biblical Meaning. Cannon as Semiotic Mechanism, chs. 1, 2, 4.
B. Rojtman, Black Fire on White Fire. An Essay on Jewish Hermeneutics, from Midrash to Kabbalah, Introduction.
J. Stem, Problems and Parables of Law. Maimonidies and Nahmanides on Reasons for the Commandments, ch. 4.

5. Humanism and Reformation:  The Sources of Control Over the Canonical Text

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 7.
*M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 19-67.
B. Vikers, In Defense of Rhetoric, pp. 254-295.
K. Eden, Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition, chs. 4-6.
J. H. Stone, “Christian Praxis as Reflexive Action,” pp. 103-128 in G. Leyh, ed., Legal Hermeneutics. History, Theory, and Practice.

6. Schleiermacher: Romantic Hermeneutics  

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 8.
*D. Shalin, “Romanticism and the Rise of Sociological Hermeneutics.” Social Research 53 (Spring 1986): 77-123.
*F. D. E. Schleiermacher, pp. 57-146 in The Hermeneutics Tradition, Ed. by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
*H. G. Gadamer, Truth and Method, Pp. 153-173.
*F. D. E. Schleiermacher, “General Hermeneutics,” pp. 73-85 in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Ed. by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
Wilhelm von Humboldt, “The Language and Conformation of Language,” Pp. 99-117 in The Hermeneutics Reader, Ed. by K. Muller-Vollmer.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 70-92.

7. Dilthey and Weber:  Hermeneutics of the Human Sciences

*W. Dilthey, “The Rise of Hermenetuics,” pp. 115-146 in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Edited by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
*W. Dithey, “An Introduction to the Human Sciences,” pp. 115-146 in Dilthey: Selected Writings.
*Weber, M. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
Weber, M. The Methodology of the Social Sciences, ch. 3.
J. G. Droysen, “Hisotry and the Historical Method,” pp. 119-123 in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Ed. by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
J. G. Droysen, “The Modes of Interpretation,” pp. 126-131 in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Ed. by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 110-121.

8. Nietszche and Freud:  Depth Hermeneutics

*M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 123-140.
*P. Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy, pp. 3-114.
A. C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics, pp. 344-350.
J. Derrida. Spurs. Nietzsche’s Style.

9. Heidegger and Gadamer:  Ontological Hermeneutics

*H. G. Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 235-274.
*M. Heidegger, Being and Time, Sections 31-34.
*M. Heidegger, Letter on Humanism.
*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 12.
J. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics, ch. 3.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 140-177.
R. Bontekoe, Dimensions of the Hermeneutic Circle, chs. 3-4.

10. Derrida:  Deconstructive Hermeneutics 

*D. Shalin, “Modernity, Postmodernism, and Pragmatist Inquiry: An Introduction,” Symbolic Interaction 15 (1993):303-332.
* J. Derrida, “The Questions to Hans-Georg Gadamer,” pp. 52-54, 58-71 in D. P. Michelfelder and R. E. Palmer, eds., Dialogue and Deconstruction. The Gadamer-Derrida Encounter.
*H. G. Gadamer, “Text and Interpretation,” pp. 21-51 in D. P. Michelfelder and R. E. Palmer, eds., Dialogue and Deconstruction. The Gadamer-Derrida Encounter.
J. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics, chs. 4, 7.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 180-184.
A. C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics, pp. 80-131.
R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, ch. 6.
K. J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text, pp. 48-66, 119-125, 211-215.
G. B. Madison, ed., The Hermeneutics of Postmodernity.

11. Ricoeur:  Structural Hermeneutics 

*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 12.
*P. Ricoeur, From Text to Action, cp. 105-167, 308-324.
J. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics, ch. 7.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 204-209.
A. C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics, pp. 351-372.
R. Bontekoe, Dimensions of the Hermeneutic Circle, ch. 5.
P. Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences.

12. Habermas:  Critical Hermeneutics

*J. Habermas, “A Review of Gadamer’s Truth and Method,” Pp. 213-244 in in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Edited by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
*J. Habermas, “The Hermeneutic Claim to Universality,” Pp. 244-272 in in The Hermeneutic Tradition, Edited by G. L. Ormiston and A. Schrift.
*D. Shalin, “Critical Theory and the Pragmatist Challenge.”American Journal of Sociology 96 (1992):237-279.
*W. Rehg, “Reason and Rhetoric in Habermas’s Theory of Argumentation,” pp. 358-377 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
J. Habermas, Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 255-258.
P. Ricoeur, From Text to Action, pp. 270-307.
K. J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text, pp. 217-218, 223-225, 400-401.

13. Peirce:  Semiotic Hermeneutics

*J. Stuhr, Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy, pp. 77-88, 97-115.
*D. Shalin, "Pragmatism and Social Interactionism." American Sociological Review 51 (February 1986): 9-30.
*D. Shalin. “Signing in the Flesh: Notes on Pragmatist Hermeneutics.” Sociological Theory 25 (Fall 2007): 193-224.
*M. Leff, “Hermeneutical Rhetoric,” pp. 196-214 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, edited by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
N. S. Struever, “Subtilitas Applicandi in Rhetorical Hermeneutics: Peirce’s Gloss and Kelly’s Example,” p p. 215-235 in Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time: Reader, ed. by Walter Jost and Michael J. Hyde.
M. Ferraris, History of Hermeneutics, pp. 101-105.  

14. James, Dewey, and Mead:  Hermeneutics as a Study of Embodied Social Forms 

*J. Stuhr, Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy. pp. 161-201, 230-240, 476-490, 555-571.
*D. Shalin, “Pragmatism and Social Interactionism.” American Sociological Review 51 (February 1986): 9-30.
*J. Kloppenberg, Uncertain Victory. Social Democracy and Progessivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920. Introduction.
T. Alexander.
John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling. ch. 4.
R. Rorty, “Science as Solidarity,” pp. 38-52 in The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences.
K. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, pp. 209-214, 226-227.

15. Signing in the Flesh:  Biocritical Hermeneutics and the Play of Difference Between Symbolic, Indexical, and Iconic Signs

*R. Shusterman, Performing Live.
*R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, chs. 4-5.
*G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, pp. 16-93.
*D. Shalin, “Legal Pragmatism, an Ideal Speech Situation, and the Fully Embodied Democratic Process.” Nevada Law Journal 5 (Winter 2005): 433-478.
*D. Shalin, “Interfacing Biography, Theory, and History: The Case of Erving Goffman.” In Erving Goffman: Biographical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives.  Special Issue of Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37. No. 1.  Edited by Dmitri N. Shalin (forthcoming).
*D. Shalin, “Goffman on Mental Illness: ‘Asylums’ and ‘The Insanity of Place’ Revisited.” In Erving Goffman: Biographical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives.  Special Issue of Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37. No. 1.  Edited by Dmitri N. Shalin (forthcoming).
D. Shalin, ed. Erving Goffman: Biographical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives.  Special Issue of Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37. No. 1 (forthcoming).
The Erving Goffman Archives
R. Shusterman, Performing Live. Aesthetic Alternatives to the End of Art, pp. 137-153.
T. Alexander.
John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling. ch. 5.
R. Rorty, “The Priority of Democracy for Philosophy,” Pp. 175-196 in Richard Rorty, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth.
L. Francis. Legal and Political Hermeneutics.
Marmor, Law and Interpretation. Essays in Legal Philosophy, chs. 9-11.  

16. Pragmatist Hermeneutics:  Democracy and the Pragmatic-Discursive Misalignment 

*D. Shalin, “Signing in the Flesh: Notes on Pragmatist Hermeneutics.” Sociological Theory 25 (Fall 2007): 193-224.
*D. Shalin, “Liberalism, Affect Control, and Emotionally Intelligent Democracy.”  Journal of Human Rights 3 (December 2004): 407-428.
*J. Kloppenberg, Uncertain Victory. Social Democracy and Progessivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920. pp.
*G. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern, ch. 9.
S. Rosen, Hermeneutics as Politics, pp. 87-140.
J. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics, Introduction.


Pragmatist Hermeneutic Agency Grid  

Agency
Dimension
(1)
Life
Dimension (2)
Rhetorical
Function (3)
Hermeneutical
Function (4)
Signifying
Media (5)
Sign
Type (6)
Pathos
(Emotions)
Vita Voluptuosa
(Living in the flesh)
Delectare
(To delight)
Comprehensio
(Emotional comprehension)
Somatic-affective
(Body work)
Index
(Embodied sign)
Ethos
(Character)
Vita Activa
(Living in deeds)
Movere
(To motivate)
Applicatio
(Practical appropriation)
Behavioral-performative
(Role performance)
Behavioral Icon
(Performative sign)
Logos
(Thought)
Vita Contemplativa
(Living in spirit)
Docere
(To enlighten)
Interpretatio
(Verbal articulation)
Discursive-symbolic
(Linguistic activity)
Symbol
(Logical sign)


1. Human agency
is a somatically-grounded, emotionally-laden, discursively-framed, self-referentially-guided, historically-rooted, and structurally-constrained capacity for action.

2. Life dimension highlights the particular mode of being in the world that distinguishes human agents as emotional, thinking, and acting creatures.

3. Rhetorical function spells out the key objectives that classical rhetoric associates with effective or persuasive communication: instructing, entertaining, and motivating.

4. Hermeneutical function identifies the basic ways in which human agents interpret their world: emotional comprehension, verbal articulation, and pragmatic appropriation.

5. Signifying media describes the principal hermeneutical resources that human agents use to sign themselves in the world: somatic-affective, discursive-symbolic, and behavioral-performative.

6. Sign type refers to the basic signs of pragmatist semiotics: indexical sign whose flesh partakes in or physically interacts with the object it stands for; logical sign that is related to its object through code or convention; and iconic behavioral sign that practically achieves its object through a sequence of deliberate actions embodying or impersonating a social role.