interpretations have, in each case in accord with the particular domain of their subject matter and their knowledge-claims about it: (1) an initial position of looking they have more or less explicitly assumed and secured; (2) motivated by this, a direction of looking in which is defined the “as-what” (in terms of which the object is to be conceptually grasped in advance) and the “toward-which” [das “woraufhin”] (with respect to which [auf das] the object is to be interpretively laid out);1 and (3) demarcated by the position and direction of looking, the scope of looking within which their particular claims about the objectivity of their interpretation move at any particular time.
The possible actualization of interpretation and understanding and the appropriation of the object emerging from this actualization will be transparent to the degree that the hermeneutical situation, in which and for the sake of which the interpretation temporalizes and unfolds itself,2 is elucidated from the above points of view. A hermeneutics of the situation has to work out the transparency of its situation at the particular time and bring this hermeneutical transparency right into the starting point of interpretation.
The situation of interpretation, i.e., of the appropriation and understanding of the past, is always the living situation of the present. As a past that is appropriated in understanding, history itself grows in comprehensibility the more primordial one’s resolute choice and working out of the hermeneutical situation is. The past opens itself up only in accord with the degree of resoluteness and power of the capacity to disclose it that the present has available to it. The primordiality of a philosophical interpretation is determined by the particular competence and sureness in which the philosophical research in question maintains itself and its questions. The conception this research has of itself and of the concreteness of its problems also already decides its basic orientation to the history of philosophy. What for these philosophical problems constitutes the proper domain of objects that should be interrogated—this determines the direction of looking into which one inevitably places the past. This reading into the past is not only not contrary to the sense of historical knowing, but it is in fact the basic condition for getting the past to speak to us at all. All of those interpretations in the field of the history of philosophy and likewise in other fields which, in contrasting themselves with “constructions” employed in the history of problems, consider it crucial that one not read anything into the texts will inevitably also themselves be caught in the act of reading something into these texts, only they will be doing so without being informed about it and by using conceptual resources taken from utterly disparate sources over which they have no control. One mistakes this absence of worry3 about what one is “actually doing” and this ignorance about the conceptual resources one employs for a suspension of all subjectivity.
The elucidation of the hermeneutical situation of the following interpretations, and through this the demarcation of their thematic domain, is developed from the following fundamental conviction. In accord with the basic character of