From Philosophy to Practice
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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