Hermeneutics of suspicion
Hermeneutics of suspicion is a phrase coined by Paul Ricœur, "to capture a common spirit that pervades the writings of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche." It is defined as a balanced recognition and perception between "explanation" and "understanding" that validates expressions of a representation. According to literary theorist Rita Felski, it is "a distinctively modern style of interpretation that circumvents obvious or self-evident meanings in order to draw out less visible and less flattering truths.[note 1] She also notes that "The “hermeneutics of suspicion” is the name usually bestowed on [a] technique of reading texts against the grain and between the lines, of cataloging their omissions and laying bare their contradictions, of rubbing in what they fail to know and cannot represent." In that sense, it can be seen as being related to ideology critique.
Ruthellen Josselson explains that "Ricoeur distinguishes between two forms of hermeneutics: a hermeneutics of faith which aims to restore meaning to a text and a hermeneutics of suspicion which attempts to decode meanings that are disguised."
- Rita Felski: "The “hermeneutics of suspicion” is a phrase coined by Paul Ricoeur to capture a common spirit that pervades the writings of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. In spite of their obvious differences, he argued, these thinkers jointly constitute a “school of suspicion.” That is to say, they share a commitment to unmasking “the lies and illusions of consciousness;” they are the architects of a distinctively modern style of interpretation that circumvents obvious or self-evident meanings in order to draw out less visible and less flattering truths (Ricoeur 356). Ricoeur’s term has sustained an energetic after-life within religious studies, as well as in philosophy, intellectual history, and related fields[.]"
- Felski, Rita (2012), "Critique and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion", M/C Journal, Media culture, 15 (1),
- Ricœur: Hermeneutics of suspicion, University of Toronto.
- Rita Felski, “Context Stinks,” New Literary History, 42, no.4 (2011): 574.
- Josselson, Ruthellen, The hermeneutics of faith and the hermeneutics of suspicion (PDF).