Presenter: Jeremy Webb
Paper topic: …But Can You See It?: Wittgenstein’s Theory of Meaning in Biblical Interpretation and in Everything Else
Abstract: Why do the wise speak in riddles? Wouldn’t it be easier if truth was just laid out in clear propositions? Or is it really possible for anyone—or any holy text—to do that? Wittgenstein’s hermeneutical theory suggests that meaning is not something that is simply expressed but is seen. That is to say, we do not grasp the meaning of a word only by knowing its definition and context; instead, we reach an understanding by directly experiencing the meaning of the word. Against an objectivist brand of hermeneutics, this means that precision of speech and of interpretive methodology is not enough to successfully read texts or even communicate. We must also be aware of what we are seeing, what we are choosing not to see, and where we are blind to meaning. This presentation offers a handful of intuitive ways to understand Wittgenstein’s technical hermeneutical principles and further clarify their urgent relevance to our interpretation of scripture and the world around us.
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The MDC Theological Research Seminar (TRS) will be held virtually for the 2020-21 academic year. TRS meets for an hour twice per month on Tuesdays. Each seminar includes about thirty minutes for the paper presentation and twenty minutes for discussion.
All advanced degree students are invited to present a paper and share your research with your colleagues. TRS is an excellent opportunity to “test drive” a paper you will be presenting at an upcoming conference and receive helpful feedback on your current research projects. Thinking about submitting an article to a journal and want some interaction first? TRS will provide it. Just published an article or an essay and want to share it us? TRS is an excellent opportunity to broadcast it.
This year the organizing committee consists of Dr. Paul Evans, Dr. Michael Knowles, and Dr. Steve Studebaker.