Hermeneutics is a branch of philosophy/literature which deals with semantics of the text, which deals with the interpretations. There could be 3 major stance in hermeneutics when you deal with any literary work
- There is a meaning intended by the author and we need to find it out.
- We are not sure of the author’s intended meaning, the meaning evolves in the interaction of the author, text and readers.
- The author is dead (Roland Barthes).
I think depending on the type of works, there are attempts to use all the 3 major stances of hermeneutics. As far as I understand, Biblical hermeneutics uses the first and second options; Now I have a few examples of the writings/facts which was appropriated and interpreted by the sections of society for their gains.
- We had the crusades of the middle ages, which was justified as just warfare. Many Biblical passages were used to justify it. Today the church has condemned them.
- We have the famous philosopher Nietzsche, whose philosophy of Will to Power was misappropriated by the Nazis. Many scholars today would agree that their interpretation was no-where close to what Nietzsche meant.
- We have the fundamentalists of all religions justifying various practices of theirs on the basis of their interpretation of holy book.
- Gandhi and his views on caste-system. It is true that Gandhi opposed untouchability, but supported caste system as a functional requirement.
- The myth of liberalization as beneficial to all. This is challenged by many economists and the increasing inequality between the super-rich and the poor in various countries show the same.
- Colonization brought the myth of white superiority, superiority of western logic and science; patriarchy brought the myth of male superiority; and many more like that of inferiority of dalits, tribals, blacks. These wrongly appropriated myths are to be thrown away and new myths of equality should be accepeted.
There are many other examples; the number of examples for the manipulation of facts could be much more. When somebody tries to unearth these, their life is often in danger. The objectivity is often lost in the battle against might of power and money.