Buber's Hermeneutic Horizon

in Aesthetics of Renewal

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226842707
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226842738 | DOI:
Buber's Hermeneutic Horizon

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Buber's approach to Verstehen, “understanding,” is manifestly inspired by Dilthey's hermeneutic theory. On the basis of his mentor's doctrine of psychological understanding of the lived experience animating a “text,” Buber developed a distinctive hermeneutic. Elaborating upon the hermeneutic technique of reliving as an act of retelling (Nacherzählen), he describes the emotive and religious meaning informing a “text.” He was concerned not with reconstructing the historical context but rather with reanimating the spiritual core of Hasidism, and deemed it necessary to purge the textual transmission of the teachings of Rabbi Nahman from literary distortions in order to recover their authentic and abiding spirit. Buber applied the same method to the Hasidic sayings, parables, and legends represented in Legende. The amplification of some basic notions of Dilthey's theory enabled him to develop his own hermeneutic approach to the representation of religious experience.

Keywords: Dilthey; hermeneutic theory; retelling; Hasidism; religious experience; text; Martin Buber

Chapter.  5539 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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