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Conducting Hermeneutic Research

From Philosophy to Practice


Nancy J. Moules, Graham McCaffrey, James C. Field and Catherine M. Laing

Conducting Hermeneutic Research: From Philosophy to Practice is the only textbook that teaches the reader ways to conduct research from a philosophical hermeneutic perspective. It is an invaluable resource for graduate students about to embark in hermeneutic research and for academics or other researchers who are novice to this research method or who wish to extend their knowledge. In 2009, the lead author of this proposed text was one of three co-founders of the Canadian Hermeneutic Institute. The institute was created as a means of bringing together scholars of hermeneutics and hermeneutic research across disciplines in creative dialogue and conversations of philosophy, research, and practice. An outcome of this was the launch of the Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, with Nancy J. Moules serving as Editor. The work of the institute and the journal make clear that people (both students and professors) seek practical guidance on how to conduct hermeneutic research. This book is a must read for this audience.
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Chapter 1. Coming to Hermeneutics


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…hermeneutics is a lesson in humility…it has wrestled with the angels of darkness and has not gotten the better of them. It understands the power of the flux to wash away the best-laid schemes of metaphysics. It takes the constructs of metaphysics to be temporary cloud formations which, from a distance, create the appearance of shape and substance but which pass through our fingers upon contact…and no matter how wantonly they are skewed across the skies there are always hermeneuts who claim to detect a shape…a bear here, a man with a long nose there. There are always those who claim they can read the clouds and find a pattern and a meaning. Now, it is not the function of…hermeneutics to put an end to those games, like a cold-blooded, demythologizing scientist who insists that the clouds are but random collections of particles of water…its function is to keep the games in play, to awaken us to the play, to keep us on the alert that we draw forms in the sand, we read clouds in the sky, but we do not capture deep essences…if there is anything that we learn in…hermeneutics it is that we never get the better of the flux. (Caputo, 1987, p. 258)

This is a book about the conduct of hermeneutic research in applied disciplines. To describe this conduct is not an easy endeavor any more than is the actual practice of...

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