A Gadamerian approach to the natural sciences and objectivity: Theory, practice and progress

Robinson, Jason
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University of Guelph

This thesis is a hermeneutical project that lays the groundwork for a dialogue with the natural sciences. It does so through a reconstruction of the self-understandings of the natural sciences and Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics that embody how each thinks the limits, possibilities, and goals of human understanding. To those ends I shall rely upon four principal concepts that condition the different natures of hermeneutics and science: theory, practice, objectivism and progress. Through an examination and application of these core concepts I will first identify and then develop the main points of contact and conflict between hermeneutics and the natural sciences. Finally, I shall articulate their agreements and disagreements through a conceptual and practical analysis that culminates in an illustrative discussion on time and temporal experience. This discussion on time is an especially informative section for it draws out a persuasive hermeneutical view of time that is not objective in the current scientific use of the term. This project is accomplished with the ultimate aim of showing that the positive future of science is a hermeneutic-dialogical one. By appreciating the hermeneutical nature of its own self-understanding, the natural sciences will become more themselves as they find further freedom from the inhibiting ethos of dogmatic objectivism. This study identifies the need for a redefinition of what we consider most real about the world as inseparable from our concrete-practical experiences of it.

natural sciences, Gadamerian approach, Hermeneutics, time and temporal experience, dogmatic objectivism