Reconstructive hermeneutical philosophy: Return ticket to the human condition

Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (6):703-727 (2003)
Abstract
Making meaning out of life requires effort, sustained thought and action. It can be difficult to reassert our responsibility for solving real life problems from within social science research or current trends, such as extremely deconstructivist text, and postmodernism in its cheerfully nihilistic guise. Hermeneutical philosophy, of the Ricoeurian reconstructive mode, rehabilitates text as a powerful device for influencing others and offers us courage to proceed with the human project by developing a way of writing, thinking and behaving that is provisional, affirmative and conciliatory, yet constantly questioning. Ricoeur invites the person, both reflective subject and empiricist object of research, to combine these elements and use written text and action as text for an active mode of living. Within philosophy he attempts to achieve a rapprochement between hermeneutical and rational thought. Understanding oneself, through better understanding of the other, derives benefit from crossing disciplinary boundaries between, in this study, philosophy and the social sciences (education and psychology), in order to attempt to move from the particular, individual issues to the general, holistic view and return to one’s own situation to act for oneself and others. Ricoeur offers us the opportunity to repossess language, to be ethical and practical, and to challenge the hegemony of Explaining, going beyond method and methodology into epistemology and beyond fact into Understanding: an ontology of hope that makes sense of plurality, without the damage of relativism. This text attempts a narrative ethics, illustrating how Ricoeur’s work transformed my thinking from that of a method-bound psychologist to that of, perhaps, a philosopher in the making. Key Words: critical realism • hermeneutics • holism • Hollis • individualism • Norris • rational analytic • Ricoeur • self • text.
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