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Re: [xmca] Understanding is no method but rather a form of communication
This is one of the topics, and a point of disagreement, in the debate between Gadamer and Habermas. The question gets framed as whether one needs something more than the ability to participate in a community of practice in order to conduct research that is transformative, emancipatory. (Not all action research tries to do this, of course.) Gadamer argued that the potential for critique and change is immanent in the practices. Habermas argued that the researcher needs something more. He has changed his position on what exactly this is over the course of his career; his first proposal was that the researcher needs a theory of the distortions that exist in everyday practical activity in order to critique them and change them. I tend to think of it as a claim that a researcher needs something that few if any participants have - a sense of the whole.
On Jul 17, 2012, at 2:39 PM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> So, just wondering, if action research is truly a bottom-up activity, why go to theorists to justify it?
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> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Martin Packer
> Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 2:23 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Understanding is no method but rather a form of communication
> Hi Larry,
> I think Gadamer made a valuable contribution to the philosophy and theory of hermeneutics, and showed the importance of interpretation in all fields. But there are, to my thinking, limitations to his analysis that suggest to me that one has to turn elsewhere for a basis for action research. Mainly, there is no place for systematic *mis*understanding in Gadamer's hermeneutics. He presumes a community of like-minded people, united in mutual understanding. it would be nice, I suppose, if life were like that, but surely it is not. In most places there is 'an Other who *is* an object for the subject,' to play with the words you quoted from Gadamer. The debates between Gadamer and Habermas in the 1970s centered around the issue of whether there is a place for critique in hermeneutics.
> Here's one good summary of the debate:
> Mendelson, J. (1979). The Habermas-Gadamer debate. New German Critique, 18, 44-73.
> On Jul 17, 2012, at 12:58 PM, Larry Purss wrote:
>> I have been reflecting on action research and the turn it took into
>> discussing voice, tone of voice, and the loss or extinguishing of voice
>> when others are marginalized.
>> I came across this statement from Gadamer who wrote the foreword to the
>> book "Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics" by Jean Grondin.
>> "So, understanding is no method but rather a form of community among those
>> who understand each other. Thus a DIMENSION is OPENED up that is not just
>> one among many FIELDS of inquiry but rather constitutes the PRAXIS OF LIFE.
>> Gadamer is exploring the 2nd person voice and putting it play with the 1st
>> person and 3rd person voice.
>> I wanted to abstract this dis-position towards the 2nd voice. I want to now
>> embed this statement in its context. Gadamer wrote,
>> "But it was only when Dilthey and his school gained influence on the
>> phenomenological movement that understanding was no longer MERELY
>> juxtaposed with conceptualization and explanation."[Gadamer, foreword]
>> In other words, understanding came to be seen as constituting the very
>> fundamental structure of human becoming-in-the-world and moved to the very
>> center of philosophy.
>> "Thereby subjectivity and self-consciousness lost their primacy. Now there
>> is an Other who is not an object for the subject - but someone to whom we
>> are BOUND in the reciprocations of language and life. So, understanding is
>> no method but rather a form of COMMUNITY among those who understand each
>> other. Thus a dimension is opened up that is not just one among many fields
>> but rather constitutes the praxis of life." [Gadamer, foreword]
>> Gadamer's tone of voice may have something to contribute to action research.
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