Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In contemporary philosophy, there exists a vigorous debate between those thinkers who advocate the need for a truth that exists outside of historical forces and those who hold that all understanding must be historical in its basis. My research is focused on deciphering this problem by providing a description of how understanding and interpretation occur. More specifically, I have proposed a project that explores how the philosophical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche can give some insight into this problem of understanding truth. I argue that Nietzsche develops a method of interpretation - a hermeneutics - that focuses on the manner in which expressions in words or actions are imbued with a meaning that can be understood by others. To help in proving this theory, I draw on the contemporary work of Paul Ricoeur, who sees Nietzsche as a kind of hermeneutic philosopher who attempts to find meaning's origin in previously hidden biological, instinctual, or economic forces. While this element is strong in Nietzsche's work, I attempt to draw from his writings a complementary approach that views meaning as the product of activities that aim toward a goal. I contend that both its origins and its goals must be considered if we are to give a coherent account of human interpretation and understanding and that Nietzsche provides this while remaining sensitive to concrete situations. Essentially, I am arguing that Nietzsche can help us mediate between dogmatic and relativist theories of understanding with his hermeneutic method and his account of the process of understanding.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Philosophy Commons