User:RedInToothAndClaw/Hermeneutics of Suspicion (draft)

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The hermeneutics of suspicion is a method of interpretation that rose to prominence among critics and literary theorists in the second half of the twentieth century.


The philosopher and critic Paul Ricoeur coined the term hermeneutic of suspicion in 19XX to describe the forms of reading and interpretation that united major nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century figures like Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud all approached their fields of study with suspicious attitudes, refusing to take the declared motives of practitioners and subjects at face value. Instead, they sought historical and philosophical forms of explanation that suggested that the apparent moral positions of political economy, ethics, and psychology, respectively, covered up more insidious phenomena or acted to cloak ulterior motives. Marx argued that political economy sought to disguise or justify the oppression of the lower classes by the upper classes; Nietzsche argued that ethics had been upended by a slave morality, in which weak individuals selfishly redefined ethics as kindness towards the weak; and Freud argued that dreams and mental preoccupations that appeared harmless had deeply traumatic and often perverse sexual explanations.

Rise to Prominence[edit]


Political criticism

Liberation Theology

Controversy and Decline[edit]

Theory and culture wars