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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 2. A History of Hermeneutics

Schleiermacher: Hermeneutics and Understanding


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For researchers who come from practice disciplines, excursions into German philosophy can seem arcane and remote. Practice, after all, implies practicality, and at times impatience with anything perceived as too abstract. Gadamer (2007), however, saw hermeneutics as a practical philosophy since human life is inseparable from understanding, so that a philosophy of understanding itself has direct relevance to how people negotiate all aspects of their existence. Reaching back into the historical development of hermeneutics prior to Gadamer’s work helps to understand his thought by identifying important currents of hermeneutic philosophy. Three such currents over the past two hundred years are language, history, and being. How do human beings achieve an understanding of themselves and other beings through language? How do they make sense of what they encounter in a world that is in constant flux, a world, and hence a self, that is historically constituted? These two questions are also central to hermeneutics-as-research, asking questions about complex human situations that emerge through practical involvement in language and in historical spaces. Hence, it is worth taking a step back to see how language, history, and being have been taken up in different ways by hermeneutic thinkers and to see how contemporary developments are still part of a living tradition of ideas. ← 9 | 10 →

Hermeneutics evolved during the 19th and 20th centuries from a discipline concerned primarily with theological texts, then texts more generally, then to the...

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