This book is intended to give readers who are philosophically sophisticated but not yet conversant with hermeneutics a comprehensive overview of the history and concerns of the discipline. It shows how the development of hermeneutics in the past two centuries coincided with a gradual increase in our appreciation of the subtleties and many variations of the hermeneutic circle. It also makes explicity some of the more important ways in which the hermeneutic circle can be seen to function in the practices of the natural sciences, thus bridging the methodological gap between the Geisteswissenschaften (human studies) and the natural sciences. The book is illustrated with forty diagrams representing the variation of the hermeneutic circle, further reinforcing the clarity of exposition. It will therefore be appropriate as core text for graduate or senior courses on hermeneutics or literary theory, and as supplementary text for courses in the philosophy of science, historiography, and aesthetics.