The scope of hermeneutics in natural science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (2):273-298 (1998)
Hermeneutics, or interpretation, is concerned with the generation, transmission, and acceptance of meaning within the lifeworld, and was the original method of the human sciences stemming, from F. Schleiermacher and W. Dilthey. The `hermeneutic philosophy' refers mostly to Heidegger. This paper addresses natural science from the perspective of Heidegger's analysis of meaning and interpretation. Its purpose is to incorporate into the philosophy of science those aspects of historicality, culture, and tradition that are absent from the traditional analysis of theory and explanation, to re-orient the current discussion about scientific realism around the hermeneutics of meaning and truth in science, and to establish some relationship between the current philosophy of natural science and hermeneutical philosophy. The paper has particular relevance to the history and social studies of science and technology.
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