Reading and interpretation

The mechanical model dictates that reading comes first, and processing later. That the information is read by the machine before it is interpretated by the software.

Human reading is different. Human reading is interpretation. Heidegger’s ‘hermeneutic pre-understanding’ is, in the words of another thinker, ‘the implicit fore-structure that guides all interpretation in advance, upon which all interpretation draws’. Interpretation doesn’t follow reading, but precedes it, which means, in more poetic language, that the eyes you lend to the reading of a text have already been read.

What we read is how we read. How we read is what we’ve read before, and so this circle moves onwards towards dissonance or backwords into confirmation. We read either how we’ve already read – meaning that although the text may be different, the exegesis is similar – or we read radically and disruptively in ways we’ve never read before, which is always going to make things harder for us.

We don’t therefore interpret something we read, but read something we’ve interpreted and then we interpret again. What we choose to read is an act of interpretation.

One thought on “Reading and interpretation

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  1. I think the key is to see that there is no pure ontological constant. Some read what they have already interpreted or come upon verification of what they thought they might know. Others just don’t know until they read and process it. But it is difficult for humans sometimes not to reduce humans to an one ontological common constant, so we like to argue as though we can get through to people or something. But then we are left with the original problem. 👨🏽‍🚀


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