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Mills, J. (2011). Deconstructing Hermes: A Critique of the Hermeneutic Turn in Psychoanalysis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 71(3):238-245.

(2011). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 71(3):238-245

Deconstructing Hermes: A Critique of the Hermeneutic Turn in Psychoanalysis

Jon Mills, Ph.D., Psy.D, ABPP

In this brief essay, I attempt to critique some of the philosophical problematics inherent with the hermeneutic turn in psychoanalysis. The proposition that “there are only interpretations of interpretations” leads to an inescapable circularity because interpretation ultimately lacks a referent or criterion for which to anchor meaning. If we follow this proposition through to its logical end, this ultimately collapses into relativism because meaning is relative to its interpretive scheme, which further relies on other interpretative schemata for which there are no definitive definitions, conclusive consensus, or universal laws governing interpretation. How can hermeneutics escape the charge of circularity, infinite regress, disavowal of universal, its tacit relativism, and the failure to provide a consensus or criteria for interpretation? How is psychoanalysis able to philosophically justify interpretative truth claims when they potentially inhere to a recalcitrant subjectivism while claiming to be objectively valuative?

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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