The Hermeneutics of Polarized Ideologies. Conflict, (Ir)rationality and Dialogue

Gonçalo Marcelo


This article devises a social hermeneutical framework to make sense of the problem of the conflict of polarized ideologies. First, it discusses the problem of irrationality in belief and behavior, arguing for a contextual and non-reductionist account of rationality. Second, it shows how a social hermeneutical approach can provide a useful toolbox for social epistemology. Third, drawing from Paul Ricœur’s notions of the conflict of interpretations and of constitutive and pathological ideologies, it redescribes pathological ideologies as totalizing systems of beliefs in which subjects fall under the spell of a mechanism of hermeneutical delusion, leaving them in a state of ideological bias. Finally, it discusses the possibility of tackling the problem of hermeneutical delusion and polarized ideologies through fostering hermeneutical dialogue geared towards mutual understanding.


Conflict of Interpretations; Hermeneutical Delusion; Ideology; Social Hermeneutics

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