Hermeneutics: an exploration
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Dowling, M. (2004) 'Hermeneutics: an exploration'. NURSE RESEARCHER, 11 (4):30-39.
The terms ‘hermeneutics’ and phenomenology’ are often used interchangeably in the literature, which can result in confusion for the reader. This article traces the relationship of these two philosophies and explains the various terms used when describing the different schools of phenomenology. The association between positivism and descriptive phenomenology is mapped. The origin of hermeneutics is traced and the role of Gadamer in following on from the work of Heidegger is explored. Gadamer’s belief on the importance of pre-understanding or prejudice is found to be central to hermeneutics. Furthermore, the role of the researcher in the hermeneutic circle is explained. Finally, the need for nurse researchers to clearly explore the philosophical underpinnings of hermeneutics is argued.