202210220030 ⭐ preliminaries for a transcendental hermeneutics

¶1. Whereas the transcendental semiotics attempted to give the conditions for any possible reading of signs, the task of a transcendental hermeneutics is to give the conditions for the possibility of any interpretation of objects. Thus, whereas transcendental semiotics takes an object and considers it as a sign through the transcendental conditions of any thinkability, hermeneutics must consider the object as object without a transcendental decomposition. To be sure, decomposition can and must occur. However, whereas semiotic decomposition proceeds because thought already does such semiotic work via its being that work, hermeneutic decomposition cannot admit of this. Why? The seme or sign faces the semiotician first-hand. As such, the semiotician faces the sign as it exists for-him, first and foremost. He intends to induce out of this facing an essence, as said in the immanent semiotics; however, he cannot say more than his own initial position towards the sign allows him. The individual semiotician, because he interprets via the transcendental conditions of thinkability, is the final word of any immanent semiotics.

¶2. Contrastingly, as I understand it, hermeneutics aims at interpretation of the object in itself, or per its own contents apart from their specific facing of the hermeneut. Thus, decomposition is not a matter of subject-object inter-facing, but a matter of the subject’s encounter with the object’s inner structure. Indeed, while immanent semiotics will make a claim to the inner structure of the object, it does so vis-à-vis the transcendental possibility of the thinkability of the object. Hermeneutics, instead, cannot make such a claim, for it presupposes the object is to some extent unthinkable and rather must be experienced through the holistic work of interpretation. Decomposition, then, is only a moment of a broader experiential labor which persists indefinitely, as Gadamer understands of the hermeneutic circle.

¶3. Thus, in summary, a semiotic analysis will assess an object per its possible subjective thinkability whereas a hermeneutic analysis will assess an object per its experiential givenness to the subject. The last semioitic word is that of the semiotician; the last hermeneutic word is that of the text.

¶4. What, then, could a transcendental hermeneutics mean? In the first instance, it begins with a whole, or the admission of a many unified over one. Semiotics, instead, begins with an individual one, an object, in its relations. Relations are occluded behind the qualitative wholeness of the object, and it is as such that the object is given for hermeneutic processing. Hermeneutics, therefore, means an assessment of the character of an object in its totality, a set of judgments concerning the functionality of the whole as a whole and as an item of experience. A certain irreducibility is, therefore, meant by hermeneutics as well. Thus, whereas semiotics is an investigation of phenomena, hermeneutics is generally speaking an investigation of noumena, or objects beyond any possible finite experience. Indeed, hermeneutics assumes that the object is altered from one experiential state to the next. In this way, there exists a transcendental condition for the change, one which experience cannot uncover and impute to itself as a whole. Finite thinkability is thus not a concern for the hermeneut. Instead, he is concerned with the “flow” of the object, its movement before him, its alterations across time, especially insofar as they elude the semiotic reduction to finite thoughts.


¶5. Presupposed by an immanent hermeneutics, then, is the possibility of interpretative work a priori, or against the grain of the empirical object encountered by the hermeneut. It is the work of the transcendental hermeneutics to work out this a priori possibility. How then, can it do so? Like Gadamer, we must begin with interpretation phenomenologically, or as considering the possibility of any interpretation whatever from the standpoint of thought’s own self-experience. In doing so, then, we must confront thought as it confronts itself, like Husserl and Frege, from a first-person perspective.

¶6. Now, if semiotics begins from the derivation of thought’s individuality, then hermeneutics must begin from the derivation of thought’s plurality. And, whereas a thought’s individuality was shown by its plurality, a thought’s plurality must be shown by its individuality. Following my work in the System in ¶15-16, I take it for granted that the transcendental ego (the brute “I”) can admit a priori of its pluralistic existence. That is, the proof of incomplete knowing is the proof of an object to be known, such that the “I” as subject always stands against an object. This being proved, transcendental hermeneutics enters upon the content of a thought, or the subjective internality of the object to which the thought refers. And, as said in System ¶64, the coherence of any one thought occurs in time, so that any two moments in time necessarily adduce any two thoughts. The two thoughts can refer to the same object but cannot have the same content, since per ¶65 no thought can be had twice, and to have the same thought-content at two different times would be to have the same thought. This is so because a thought-content at any time t₁ coheres at that that time, so the same content could not be had at another time t₂, for it would again cohere at that time. In this way thought-content and the thought itself are both temporally discrete. A constellation of thought-contents must thus always be had about an object, since an object must always be experienced in time (again per System ¶15-16). And, because of this, any object cannot be given by one thought, but must always be given by several thoughts.

¶7. It is the necessary experience of such thoughts in time with the experience of the object that constitutes the transcendental possibility of hermeneutics. For, because one cannot have merely one thought of an object, one can nowhere “have” that object in mind in toto. Rather, because one must always have at least two thoughts about the object (a proof of which follows from the notion of time’s continuity is made discrete over a range and, just thereby, at least a minimum and maximum thereof and, so, at least two moments), the object will always occur at least doubly to the subject. This follows a fortiori for ecstasies and insights, which might be posed as exceptions to my reasoning. Indeed, if the ecstasy occurs at a “flash,” in an instant, one does not thereby lose consciousness of it. Rather, the consciousness is redoubled as one thinks on the thought, and the initial object of the ecstasy is lost as the ecstasy itself is taken up as an object that mediated the initial object. This concatenation of thoughts is aptly described by Husserl in his writing on Time Consciousness [@moranPhenomenologyReader2002]. Thus, one does not lose the initial object. One does indeed lose the content of the thought had in the ecstasy, but one loses this content inevitably. In this way, ecstasy or “eureka” is only a stronger case of day-to-day life, only a stronger act of mind than what proceeds at every moment in waking life.

¶8. Said another way, this doubling of the object, transcendentally-phenomenologically, is the transcendental possibility of hermeneutics. For, once an object is given at least doubly (which it always is), one can think on that double givenness. And, by thinking on such doubling, one thereby interprets or does hermeneutic work on the object’s givenness. One may rely at this point on an immanent semiotic analysis, to be sure. However, for the work to become immanently hermeneutic, a claim about the object’s noumenal conditionality for its doubling in the subject must ultimately be made. Thus, if I watch a movie and see a character do x at one moment and y at another, I could interpret both as signs for me under an abducted hypothesis, or I could proceed upon hermeneutics and impute the hypothesis to the object as a speculative synthesis of its being for me and its being in itself. It is here that immanent semiotics and immanent hermeneutics converge, though more must be said about this in the work proper to this subject.

¶9. One might summarize and say that, because an object is always at least doubled in consciousness, something must stand as its necessary condition. Hermeneutics is an investigation into this condition.

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