Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Hermeneutics of Suspicion
I once read about Hermeneutics of Suspicion. It aims to discover, behind the things being analysed, a further reality which allows a much deeper interpretation to be made, and which can challenge the surface account. Plainly, we may see how psychoanalysis is definitively an instance of 'suspicion'; arguably feminism can be as well. The hermeneutics of suspicion is the explicit form of interpretative approach that Palmer (1969) refers to when he characterizes hermeneutics, the general theory of interpretative activitiy, as the method by which "Something foreign, strange, separated in time, or experience, is made familiar, present, comprehensive; something requiring representation, explanation or translation is somehow 'brought to understanding' - is 'interpreted'. (Palmer, 1969: 14)" A recognized early discussioin of hermeneutic method is found in the early work of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). In his work Being and Time (1927), he attempted an analysis of the everyday manner in which human beings go about their interpretative sense-making. For him, we live in an interpreted world and are ourselves hermeneutic; we are interpreters, understanders. For us, the hermeneutics approach provides a new view of the meaning of data. A conservation, for example, is the record of a process by which we can interpret people's constructions of their world.