Academic journal article Psychologische Beiträge

Reflections

Academic journal article Psychologische Beiträge

Reflections

Article excerpt

The preceding chapters display the rather remarkable developments that have occurred in qualitative therapy research in recent years. In some cases, existing qualitative research methods have been adapted to this particular line of inquiry. In others, methods have been invented while, in the case of the psychoanalytic interview, a method is seen to have been in existence all along but unrecognized as qualitative research. Collectively, these methods address units of therapeutic discourse that range from particular events in particular sessions to whole courses of therapy, and engage a wide range of procedures. In terms of the latter aspect, some entail a careful presentation of text to document formulations, while others involve a glossing of text. Some place a high value on researchers' disclosures of their own apparent subjectivity, while others do not. Some involve the structuring of formulations in terms of extant theory, while others reflect attempts to be atheoretical at the outset. Some are oriented to description, others to explanation. Some seek consensus of opinion among members of a research team, while others seek diversity of opinion, and still others are content with mainly solo analyses. Some triangulate several sources of evidence bearing on formulations, while others engage mainly the primary text under study, and so on.

It is because of this broad diversity that we notice with great interest that virtually all of the contributors in one way or other depict their methods as hermeneutic. We see this as a significant development. It signals recognition that research is not merely interpretive, like all inquiry by virtue of the subjectivity of the researcher, but is doubly so because of the subjectivity and agency of the Other under study. Hermeneutics thus is a common thread that weaves together the many diverse strands constituting these methods. Still, the resulting fabric has no clear pattern. This is because there are different forms of hermeneutics, and these different forms have different implications for methodology and method.

Thus, when proposing that the grounded theory methodology is best understood as a form of methodical hermeneutics, Rennie (this volume) is drawing on the attempts by Dilthey to extend Kant's critique of natural science to a critique of history. When McLeod and Balamoutsou (this volume) draw on Gadamer's (1960/1992) notions of historical operative consciousness and the fusion of horizons, they are attempting to relate philosophical hermeneutics to method. Meanwhile, Elliott, Slatick and Urman (this volume) propose that certain forms of qualitative research can be not just definitional and descriptive, but explanatory as well, especially when intentions are taken into account. This approach combines in effect the traditional hermeneutics of the ancient Greeks and Schleiermacher's (1838) divinatory approach to methodical hermeneutics, or the attempt to divine the author's intention better than the author him/herself was/is capable of doing (see Palmer, 1969). Yet again, when Fischer, Eckenrod, Embree and Jarzynka (this volume) outline how empirical phenomenology is hermeneutic by virtue of the influence of Heidegger's existential phenomenology, this claim needs to be understood in terms of Heidegger's hermeneutics as a source of philosophical hermeneutics.

Philosophical hermeneutics perhaps better than any other philosophical position attempts to come to grips with the difficult problem of the relationship between realism and relativism. Correspondingly, it opens up the central issues involved in the relationships among epistemology, methodology and method, and certainly in the human sciences. Heidegger reversed Kant's proposed relation between epistemology and ontology. While Kant put epistemology first, Heidegger made ontology primordial. Heidegger's emphasis on being in the world helps to resolve Kantian subject-object dualism. Going with the resolution, Heidegger's insight that we fall into language and culture, and thereby unconsciously take on a particular perspective of the world, introduces relativism into epistemology. …

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