A Re-discussion of Imposed Interpretation

Social Sciences in China, 2021

Vol. 42, No. 4, 2021


A Re-discussion of Imposed Interpretation



Zhang Jiang


First of all, Chinese hermeneutic construction must achieve new insights and further progress in solving many meta-problems of fundamental significance. The interpretive approach of imposed interpretation has been extremely common in the textual studies and theoretical construction of various disciplines. It is seen in expressing one’s own ideas by means of surreptitious changes to objects and words in the name of the text, imposing these ideas on the text, and then claiming the text expresses just such ideas. Such interpretation violates the logical rules and ethics of hermeneutics, and its legitimacy is thus questionable. Hermeneutics has objects, and the hermeneutic object has certainty. Deviation from the object cancels out the legitimacy of interpretation. Psychologically, imposed interpretation may have a convincing rationale. However, this does not mean it is rational and unassailable, just as the fact that mistakes are hard to avoid does not mean that they are rational and unassailable, let alone truthful. An interpretation with strong theoretical and logical power need not resort to coercion or imposition. Interpretation is the interpretation of motivation. To make a proper and reasonable interpretation, it is fundamental to adhere to the certainty of the hermeneutic object; to insist on a holistic pursuit in the hermeneutic sense; and to constrain the blind unfolding of the motivations of interpretation effectively and rationally. We should be especially alert to the imposed interpretation caused by subjective motives outside the realm of literature. An effective way to rationally constrain the coercive force of interpretation is to always start from the phenomenon itself, insist on a holistic interpretive attitude, and adhere to multiple and multidirectional intersecting circles of interpretation.


Keywords: interpretation, hermeneutics, imposed interpretation, psychology