From Philosophy to Practice
Chapter 4. Being Methodical and Following Leads
Caveats on What Science Has Delivered to Us as Method
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ON BEING METHODICAL AND FOLLOWING LEADS
The hermeneutics developed here is not, therefore, a methodology of the human sciences…I did not intend to produce an art or a technique of understanding, in the manner of earlier hermeneutics. I did not wish to elaborate a system of rules to describe, let alone direct the methodological procedure of the human sciences…My real concern was and is philosophic; not what we do or what we ought to do, but what happens to us over and above our wanting and doing. Hence the methods of the human science are not at issue here. (Gadamer, 1960/1996, p. xxiii & p. xviii)
There is no such thing as a method of asking questions, of learning to see what is questionable. (Gadamer, 1960/1989, p. 365)
We place these quotes at the front of this chapter to signal the difficulty and risk that confronts anyone attempting to lay out the “how” of hermeneutics, a task made more difficult because of Gadamer’s ambivalence toward anything that would qualify as a procedure for doing hermeneutics. It is understandable, then, that a common reading of Gadamerian hermeneutics is that there is no method associated with doing interpretive research, nor should there be and, as authors of this book, we both agree and disagree with this statement. It all comes down to what is meant by the term method. What are the assumptions made by the method...
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