Publication 5788

Winograd T. & Flores F. (1987) Understanding and being. Chapter 3 in: Understanding computers and cognition: A new foundation for design. Addison-Wesley, Reading MA: 27–37. Fulltext at
Excerpt: In this chapter we introduce Heidegger’s analysis of understanding and Being, Heidegger’s writings are both important and difficult, and we will make no attempt to give a thorough or authoritative exposition. Our intention is to bring out those aspects relevant to our examination of language and thought and to our understanding of technology. Before turning to Heidegger, however, it will be useful to look briefly at issues that arise in interpreting texts. In addition to the obvious relevance of this material to our discussion of language, we have found that it is easier to grasp the more radical phenomenological statements about interpretation if we first consider interpretive activity in a more obvious setting. When someone speaks of ‘interpretation,’ the most likely association is with artistic or literary works. The musician, the literary critic, and the ordinary reader of a poem or novel are all in some immediate sense ‘interpreting’ a collection of marks on a page. One of the fundamental insights of phenomenology is that this activity of interpretation is not limited to such situations, but pervades our everyday life. In coming to an understanding of what it means to think, understand, and act, we need to recognize the role of interpretation.

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