VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 17 POSTED ON: 7/8/2012
Marc Applebaum, PhD International Human Science Research Conference Université du Québec à Montréal June 27, 2012 Phenomenology and hermeneutics For Husserl, “being given and being interpreted are descriptions of the same situation from two different levels of discourse. Hermeneutics and phenomenology coexist in his thought.” “Intentional consciousness is meaning bestowing, and therefore interpreting...but at the same time Husserl insisted that we do perceive things that are nevertheless given.” (Mohanty, 1984, p. 117) Implied complementarity The implication of J. N. Mohanty’s observation is that description and interpretation coexist within Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy. The challenge is how to work out what this means for psychological research praxis? Moving from philosophy to psychology requires an adaptation, since their praxes are different. Problem Numerous qualitative researchers assert that description and interpretation can be complementary… But this complementarity and its implications have not been carefully worked through by psychologists Why is this a problem for us? If all knowing is framed as interpretive in an overly reductive way, then a descriptive attitude is nullified If the issue is not clarified, the epistemological foundation of our research will be incomplete If description and interpretation represent different attitudes, and we do not clarify the difference, we risk muddying the waters for our students “Interpretation” and “description” are not univocal terms Next I will specify what I mean by description and interpretation in the context of this talk Two modes of interpreting (Giorgi) A. Adopting a chosen perspective from which to regard the given B. Introducing non-given theoretical or quasi-theoretical ideas into one’s reflection upon the data in order to develop the meaning beyond what’s given in the data Description can be defined as… Using language to articulate the intentional contents of consciousness (Mohanty, Giorgi) By bracketing prior knowledge about the phenomenon and then articulating the psychological meanings that are present for us in the participants’ words, within the limits with which these meanings are present (Giorgi, based on Husserl) Implicit meanings are also present Example: the American idiom, “the elephant in the room” Descriptive researchers claim to be able to recognize and explicate not only explicit psychological meanings, but implicit ones as well Argument In descriptive phenomenological research there are both interpretive and descriptive moments: Descriptive researchers constitute the research situation with “high-level” interpretive choices (Giorgi) Having done so, they are free to adopt a descriptive method And having arrived at findings, we can expand upon them interpretively Adopting a psychological attitude Asking a specific research question, focused on a particular phenomenon Formulating one’s question within an identifiable hermeneutic community: for example, the community of qualitative researchers Similarly, in a descriptive study, one’s question is offered to a describable intersubjective community as well Putting one’s prior theoretical and personal knowledge about the phenomenon out of play (bracketing) Employing the epoché Explicating what is present in the data, from this chosen research perspective, with respect to the phenomenon that is the focus of our study, using free imaginative variation. Seeking a least variant psychological structure for the given context (Giorgi, 2009) Eidetic intuition is a discovery process and not a mechanical one No method can guarantee one’s success in discovering a structure and expressing it adequately To describe means, in a certain way, putting oneself at the service of what’s present and seeking to act as a vehicle for the expression of what’s present by engaging with it, but not adding to it “To translate into disposable significations a meaning first held captive in the thing and in the world itself” (Merleau-Ponty, 1968, p. 36). Often seems to be heard and is perhaps intended as a prompt to students to adopt a constructive attitude toward data as a text, viewed in a way as the raw material from which the interpreter is meant to create something novel… Using both meanings of interpretation (A) and (B) referred to earlier… To “move the meaning forward” But they imply different attitudes, and this matters for our research Giorgi, A. (2009). The descriptive phenomenological method in psychology: A modified Husserlian approach. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible (A. Lingis, Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Mohanty, J. N. (1984). Transcendental philosophy and the hermeneutic critique of consciousness. In G. Shapiro & A. Sica (Eds.), Hermeneutics: Questions and prospects (pp. 96-120). Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press. Mohanty, J. N. (1987). Philosophical description and descriptive philosophy. In Phenomenology: Descriptive or hermeneutic? (pp. 40-61). The First Annual Symposium of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.