In this paper I take up the "claim to universality" of hermeneutics, as put forth by Hans-Georg Gadamer; the aim is to grasp the "life that can understand," to grasp it in its essence and in terms of understanding. In this way I deal critically with Gadamer's (and Heidegger's) idea that all understanding is "self-understanding" and work out the dependence of understanding on the other, on the "hermeneutic object" (
) of understanding. But a "hermeneutic object" (
) is not a "mere object" (
). On the basis of this distinction, I develop, in conclusion, a critical reflection on the selfobjectification of the human in those interpretations of human life that are oriented solely to natural science. Self-objectfication is a wrongly directed understanding and can therefore be corrected on the basis of a developed concept of life as understanding.