- Feb 2022
The hermeneutic circle (German: hermeneutischer Zirkel) describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically. It refers to the idea that one's understanding of the text as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole. Neither the whole text nor any individual part can be understood without reference to one another, and hence, it is a circle. However, this circular character of interpretation does not make it impossible to interpret a text; rather, it stresses that the meaning of a text must be found within its cultural, historical, and literary context.
The hermeneutic circle is the idea that understanding a text in whole is underpinned by understanding its constituent parts and understanding the individual parts is underpinned by understanding the whole thereby making a circle of understanding. This understanding of a text is going to be heavily influenced by a text's cultural, historical, literary, and other contexts.