‘Messenger or Thief? The Ends of Interpretation’

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) invites PhD and Research Master Students in Philosophy to register for the course ‘Messenger or Thief? The Ends of Interpretation’, to take place from November 30th – December 1st 2018. 

Organizing university

University of Amsterdam


Friday, November 30th, 2018 - Saturday, December 1st, 2018


Universiteitsbibliotheek UvA, Singel 425, Amsterdam

Type of activity

2-day course

Type of activity

For this activity PhD students and ReMa students can – after successful completion – earn a certificate. However, the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. More information. The study load for this activity is as follows: 1 EC or 2,5 EC (see below)

Primary target group

PhD students, 2nd year ReMa students

If places available, also open to

All other students

Application/registration deadline

Monday, November 5th, 2018

About the topic

This OZSW course explores the aims and limits of the interpretation of philosophical texts from the past. In Greek mythology Hermes was the messenger of the gods, the guide of souls to the underworld, the inventor of language and speech, the god of boundaries and the transgression of boundaries, the protector of travellers, but also the patron of thieves and a divine trickster. Although the term ‘hermeneutics’ is not derived from his name, Hermes is often symbolically connected with the theory of interpretation. The ambivalence in his various roles neatly mirrors the problems that we encounter in interpreting philosophical texts from the past. On the one hand, Hermes’ role as divine messenger points to the transmission of meaning from author to reader, but, on the other hand, his patronage of thieves and his performance as a trickster might be connected with more problematic aspects of interpretation, such as the appropriation of texts for aims beyond their authors’ intentions.

Aim / objective

The course is an opportunity for graduate students to reflect on the methodological dimension of their research and to acquire knowledge of new methodological perspectives. Furthermore, by participating in this course students will gain more experience in presenting their work to their peers and to senior researchers.



The course will take place over two days, and consists of lectures and student-led sessions. In the student-led sessions graduate students have the opportunity to present a problem they encounter in their own research, on the basis of one or more texts chosen by themselves and spread in advance among the participants. An exact program will be posted here at a later time.


Olga Lizzini, VU University

Dr. Herman Siemens, Leiden University

Further lecturers will be announced shortly


Certificate / credit points

1. Students can present a problem or an issue they encounter in their own research in a one-hour student-led session, consisting of a presentation and discussion. You are supposed to choose one or more short texts for this session, which will be spread in advance among the other participants. This form of participation will be rewarded with 2,5 EC.
2. Simple attendance, including preparation by reading the assigned literature and participation in the discussions. 1 EC.
3. Simple attendance and writing a short paper after the course. 2,5 EC


The course is free for:

  • 2nd year Research Master students in Philosophy at a Dutch university
  • PhD students who are member of the OZSW
  • All other students pay a fee of €250 

How to apply / register

Please register through this form.



Jacques Bos, University of Amsterdam

Contact info

For questions regarding the content of the course, please contact Jacques Bos (j.bos@uva.nl). Please contact the OZSW secretariat for any practical inquiries (secretariaat@ozsw.nl).