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Philosophy Phenomenology

Phenomenological Hermeneutics and the Study of Literature

by (author) Mario Valdes

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1987
Phenomenology, Spanish & Portuguese, 20th Century, Semiotics & Theory
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1987
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In the intensity of current theoretical debates, critics and students of literature are sometimes in danger of losing sight of the most basic principles and presuppositions of their discipline, of the underlying connections between attitudes to truth and the study of literature. Aware of this danger, Mario Valdés has taken up the challenge of retracing the historical and philosophical background of his own approach to literature, the application of phenomenological philosophy to the interpretation of texts.
Phenomenological hermeneutics, Valdés reminds us, participates in a long-standing tradition of textual commentary that originates in the Renaissance and achieves full force in the work of Giambattista Vico by the middle of the eighteenth century. Valdés characterizes this tradition as the embodiment of a relational rather than an absolutist epistemology: its practitioners do not seek fixed and exclusive meanings in texts but regard the literary work of art as an experience that is shared within a community of readers and commentators, and enriched by the historical continuity of that community.
Valdés demonstrates the vigour of the tradition and community he has inherited in a brief survey of such relational commentators as Vico, Juan Luis Vives, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Unamuno, Croce, and Collingwood. He elaborates the contemporary contribution of phenomenological hermeneutics to the tradition, referring particularly to the work of Paul Ricoeur. In arguing for a living and evolving community of criticism, he contests both the historicist imposition of closure on texts and the radical scepticism of the deconstructionists. And in reading of works by Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges, he offers a model for the continuing celebration of the living literary text.

About the author

Mario J. Vald�s, FRSC is a professor emeritus in the Centre for Comparative Literature and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto.

Mario Valdes' profile page

Other titles by Mario Valdes