Research Methodology

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Hermeneutic Phenomenology and Phenomenology: A Comparison of Historical and Methodological Considerations

Table of Contents

Phenomenology, Hermeneutics and Hermeneutic Phenomenology: A Comparison of Historical and Methodological Considerations4

Hermeneutic Tradition6

Gadamer's Unified Process of Understanding, Interpretation and Application9

Phenomenology: Edmund Husserl15

Hermeneutic phenomenology: Martin Heidegger19

Hermeneutic phenomenology: Hans-Georg Gadamer22

Interpretation - Hermeneutic Phenomenology24

Research Context25

Ontological Assumptions25

Axiological Assumptions26

Epistemological Assumptions27

Methodological Assumptions28

Similarities & Differences29

Challenges & Strengths30

Ontology and Epistemology Issues33

Research Methodology and Philosophical Underpinnings35

Applying Positivism and Empiricism35

Other Methodologies39

Research Process40

Research Agenda40

Applying Critical Realism42

Methodological Issues45




Chapter: Research Methodology

Phenomenology, Hermeneutics and Hermeneutic Phenomenology: A Comparison of Historical and Methodological Considerations

Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur are the foremost representatives of the movement of hermeneutic phenomenology. Phenomenology becomes hermeneutical when its method is taken to be interpretive (rather than purely descriptive as in transcendental phenomnenology). This orientation is evident in the work of Heidegger who argues that all description is always already interpretation. Every form of human awareness is interpretive. Especially in Heidegger's later work he increasingly introduces poetry and art as expressive works for interpreting the nature of truth, language, thinking, dwelling, and being.

Heidegger's student, Hans-Georg Gadamer, continued the development of a hermeneutic phenomenology, expecially in his famous work Truth and Method. In it, he carefully explores the role of language, the nature of questioning, the phenomenology of human conversation, and the significance of prejudice, historicality, and tradition in the project of human understanding.

Paul Ricoeur also studied Husserl, and he too does not subscribe to the transparency of the self-reflective cogito of Husserl. He argues that meanings are not given directly to us, and that we must therefore make a hermeneutic detour through the symbolic apparatus of the culture. Ricoeur's hermeneutic phenomenology examines how human meanings are deposited and mediated through myth, religion, art, and language. He elaborates especially on the narrative function of language, on the various uses of language such as storytelling, and how narrativity and temporality interact and ultimately return to the question of the meaning of being, the self and self-identity.

In essence, there is a growing recognition of the limitations of addressing many significant questions in the human realm within the requirements of empirical methods and its quest for indubitable truth (Polkinghorne, 1983).

Out of this milieu, a variety of research methodologies have grown in popularity including phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, and hermeneutic phenomenology (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). As this has occurred, concern has risen about the use of qualitative methodologies without sufficient understanding of the rigor necessary to ethically utilize them (Maggs-Rapport, 2001). More specifically, phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology are often referred to interchangeably, without questioning any distinction between them. The purpose of this article is to discuss the early philosophical development of selected key issues related to phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology and support the position that differences and similarities exist. This exploration will begin with the phenomenology of Husserl and then move to explore heremeneutic phenomenology through Heidegger and Gadamer. Exploration will be given to how these different philosophical perspectives have an impact on the practice of phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology as research methodologies.

As final preface, this exploration needs to be framed as a present understanding ...
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