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The Pragmatist Basis of Material Hermeneutics

Authors: Juho Lindholm


Practical hermeneutics explores the emergence of meaning in scientific practice. Visual hermeneutics is its subclass which explores the emergence of meaning in instrumentally mediated interactions with scientific objects. There remains to be explained, upon what theory of meaning their discussions are based. Linguistic theories of meaning seem utterly inappropriate for the analysis of the non-linguistic meanings that such hermeneutics invoke. In this article, it will be shown by conceptual analysis that the so-called “pragmatic maxim” provides sufficient resources for the philosophical analysis of such meanings. The “pragmatic maxim” states that the meaning of a thing consists in the potential practical effects of that thing. Because this notion is not confined to language, it can be broadly applied to anything meaningful, including practices and the instruments which are part of practices.

Keywords: Hermeneutics, philosophy of science, pragmatism, theory of meaning.

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