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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 11. Conclusion – Firsts and Lasts



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If there can be no last word in philosophical hermeneutics, there can be no first. The question is how and where to join a continuing “conversation.” (Davey, 2006, p. xi)

We have joined an old, yet current and continuing conversation in a particular way, offering our interpretation of the historical philosophical tradition’s influence on hermeneutics as a research method in applied disciplines. In this book, we have traced the German school of hermeneutic scholars leading to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. From that standpoint, we examined the methodological dilemmas of proceeding with research in way that is consistent with the philosophy that guides it. We followed with an exploration of aspects of hermeneutic research including the address of the topic, the conduct of interviews, interpretation (data analysis) in hermeneutics, examples of interpretive writing of research findings, rigor and integrity of this kind of research, and ending with the call to be accountable to the research in terms of its utility and usefulness.

In this endeavor, we hope we have challenged the notion that hermeneutic research is an unguided research approach, and shown rather that it is a ← 195 | 196 → rigorous practice of attentiveness, openness, discernment, tact, discipline, and dis-position.

…hermeneutics does not constitute a “philosophical position” but a philosophical dis-position. It is a practice of disposing or orientating oneself toward the other and the different with the consequence of...

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