for spring 2006
REL 312: Questions & paper topics
What is a text? What is language?
What is experience? What is expression? How are they related? What does it mean to say that human experiences are ex-pressed and objectified?
What can be regarded as text: research data, scientific theories, social structures, economic theories, political systems, political rhetoric or propaganda, legal codes, people, gestures, historical events, history itself, religious rituals, works of art or music, movies, TV commercials?
What is meaning? Can meaning be fixed or narrowed? How or why not?
What is interpretation? How does it occur?
Can there be “bad” or “wrong” interpretations? If so, how are they determined as such?
In what sense can an interpretation be “objective”?
What is understanding? How is understanding possible?
What is pre-understanding? How is it the condition for all understanding?
What is the relationship between the world of objects or phenomena and the interpreter?
What is the significance of the relationship between subject and object? What is meant by such a distinction?
What is the world (both natural and human, i.e., historical)?
What is a worldview?
What is science? Is there a distinction between the natural sciences and the human sciences? What would be the significance of any distinction?
How may we understand an election campaign advertisement by asking questions about its implicit worldview, discernible intentions, historical context, cultural presuppositions, unconscious or subconscious messages, etc.? Why and how are such advertisements intelligible?
What about various interpretations of phenomena?, E.g., how would a Democrat or a Republican react to the same campaign advertisement and why? How would a Korean and an American react differently to the same hand gesture?