Organization profile

Organisation profile

The Program for Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies was founded in 1999 and was the first academic program in Israel to offer graduate studies in hermeneutics and culture. Like similar programs founded in Europe and the USA, the program houses under the same roof scholars whose intellectual interest lies in the meeting of different disciplines of knowledge and theoretical and hermeneutical tools. The presumption of this new field of knowledge is that there is effectively nothing which cannot be interpreted and studied as a cultural phenomenon. The concept of culture appears here in a new context - not just the activity traditionally regarded as high culture (art, literature or music) but the whole ensemble of human activities organized aroud language, institutions and practices.

The human is an interpretative being. Human beings – individuals and societies – conduct their lives through constant interpretation of their actions, values, world and the totality of their activity. The interpretive act is not only the dominion of cultural researchers but rather is first and foremost the dominion of each person operating in the world and attempting to constantly impart meaning on the different areas of his/her activity. Interpretative activity is one of the prominent characteristics of human existence. Man, as a human being, does not make do with action only; on the contrary, his actions are accompanied by an explanation or understanding of those actions. The art of interpretation is usually immersed in the practice itself, not illumined by the light of systematic recognition and consciousness.

Yet sometimes interpretation becomes an independent object, and then attention is deflected from the practical realm to the theoretical. This move signals the inception of the systematic work involved in the decoding, analysis and description of human areas of activity in which hermeneutics are implicitly embodied. This systematic work is the work of the theoretician, and it marks the transformation of the implicit interpretation in practice into an independent moment. Over time, theories also developed explaining interpretative activity – this field is known as the theory of interpretation or hermeneutics and by nature is interdisciplinary – as did theories of discourse seeking to understand the way in which culture is constructed as discursive constructions in which it is impossible to separate questions of power and knowledge. These theories raise a new series of questions, like, for example: Who is the interpretative being? Is it a man or woman? From which culture? Who is allowed to ask what and in which circumstances? Does one become a subject, or is one born a subject?  Is the subject consciousness? Or is the subject embodied consciousness? And, what are the conditions that transform particular knowledge into legitimate knowledge at a given historical moment? The Program for Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies imparts new tools for cultural critique and teaches a wide variety of theories: hermeneutics, critical theories, marxism and neo-marxism, post-structuralism, gender studies, post-colonialism, theories of space, visual culture studies, anthropological and sociological theories and cultural studies.

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