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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations


David W. Jardine, Christopher Gilham and Graham McCaffrey

This text articulates how and why suffering can be pedagogical in character and how it is often key to authentic and meaningful acts of teaching and learning. This is an ancient idea from the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE) – pathei mathos or «learning through suffering». In our understandable rush to ameliorate suffering at every turn and to consider every instance of it as an error to be avoided at all costs, we explore how the pedagogy that can come from suffering becomes obscured and something vital to a rich and vibrant pedagogy can be lost. This collection threads through education, nursing, psychiatry, ecology, and medicine, through scholarship and intimate breaths, and blends together affinities between hermeneutic conceptions of the cultivation of character and Buddhist meditations on suffering and its locale in our lives. This book will be useful for graduate courses on hermeneutic research in education, educational psychology, counseling, and nursing/medicine.
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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Morning Thoughts on Application



Morning Thoughts ON Application


The text…if it is to be understood properly—i.e., according to the claim it makes—must be understood at every moment, in every concrete situation, in a new and different way. Understanding here is always application. (Gadamer, 1989, p. 309)

Below is an amazing passage in light of Gadamer’s thoughts on application and how interpretation makes little sense “in general.” Its character only starts to appear once it is applied to a topic, a case, a locale, an instance. Only in the face of the specific resistances and demands that the case brings, is interpretation able to “work.” The individual case is thus “fecund,” not only in the sense that its new arrival demands that what has been previously established open itself up to the arriving sense of potency and possibility and demand that the new case brings (thus demonstrating the deep and unavoidable impermanence of such establishments). It is also fecund in the sense that facing and working through such moments of arrival, again and again, is how getting “good” at interpretation happens—it is fecund in relation to my ability to work interpretively. That is why it is always I, myself, who must take this venture. It is also why understanding a hermeneutic study requires precisely such a venture from readers.

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