Education  as    Hermeneutical  Science
  Dr K.Loganathan, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang

The Need for Hermeneutical Science
1.0     The problems faced by educationists researching  into  the school  situation-the  behaviour  of  children, the  teachers,  the problems  of  learning and teaching and the design of curriculum that is maximally  effective and so forth is enormous.  Basic to all  these  efforts is the understanding of human behavior and  how  to change  it, if  possible and change it economically  and  speedily.  Many  research  paradigms have been brought  into  service - ranging from the strictly scientific behavioristic , neo-behavioristic, the experimental  cognitive approaches stimulated by  computer  models and the somewhat less rigorous methods of game  simulations, action  research, case-studies, anthropological ethnographic investigations and so forth.
  All these research methodologies claim to be scientific  though in varying but related senses and contrast with the  methodologies available  in the study of art,  literature and so forth.  The  social  sciences  are  not  scientistic like  the  physical  sciences  nor appreciative  like poetics,
art criticism, literary  and   historical studies. They have their own peculiarities which I think has not been brought out clearly by the  bulk of methodologies that  have been forged for the study of man.  When we move from the angle  of  the vigorous methodologies of the physical sciences to the  study  of  man (or child) we condemn him to a machine; when we move  from  the  appreciative disciplines of the arts, they seem to  lack  the scientific temper. I shall suggest in this paper a more  universal concept of science - the hermeneutic science which  allows the study of  man as man in a nonexperimental manner without ceasing to be however scientific at the same time.

Karl R. Popper who has very vigoroushy championed  for  the  case of scientistics in the modern world and who has  articulated  his  views  through  numerous publications, is  critical  even  of recent  developments in hermeneutics.  He postulates a World 3 in addition to World 1 and World 2, where the World 1 consists of the physical elements, World 2 the psychological elements and World  3 the  World  of  ideas, arguments, plans, theories and so forth.  He claims  that  the activity of understanding  consists  essentially operating with the third-world objects and is essentially done  by  problem  solving  maneuvers.  He  gives the following schema as a general way ofunderstanding what scientistic approach is:

            Schema A:    P1 ---->  TT---->  EE---->  P 2?

 This  is an evolutionary model of scientific thinking and  its development.  First  of  all  P1 is the  problem that we start an  investigation with and  TT  is  the 'Tentative   theory, - the imaginary, conjectural hypothetical solution  that is proposed. EE
(Error  Elimination) consists of a severe critical examination  of  our tentative theories with the use of data, documents, statistical analysis, testing varying  alternatives  and so forth.  And as a result of such critical reflections, we have a new understanding of the problem  i.e. P 2 and the cycle repeats now.  The important  point  in  Popper's view of what science is , emerges in the emphasize  he gives  to the notion of refutation or criticism.  A Conjecture must allow for refutation for it to be a scientific kind of conjecture.
In this view understanding a certain issue is akin to solving a problem and it is simultaneously evolutionary for having solved a problem, there emerges now another problem possibly more complex    and  deeper than the initial.  Thus scientistic understanding  grows like a tree, developing many branches,  sub-branches and so forth in an endless manner.(Popper 1972, PP.153-190).

Another notion equally important for understanding what science is, is related to the notion of 'Scientific explanation'.   A penetrative analysis and description of the beauties of a piece of artwork  is not  scientific explanation  - in  fact nothing is explained at all in such verbal productions.  Such a person  simply  articulates his own perceptions, reactions, responses and so forth and not bothered at all about explaining how the work of art came to be,  what cognitive processes went into the making of it and what evidences are there for such claims and so forth.  Here we do not have a scientific aim for as Popper says "the aim of  science (is)  to  find satisfactory explanation, of whatever strikes us a being in need of explanation.  By an explanation (or a causal explanation) is meant a set of  statements by which one  describes the states of affairs to be explained (the explicandum) while  the others, the  explanatory  statements form the  'explanation in  the narrowest sense of the word (the explicans of  the  explicandum) (Popper 1972, P 191-his italics).  Thus combining these two notions we see what 'science' means: Seeing a problem P1, describing it as clearly as possible (the explicandum, the problem situation that are normally  states of affairs in the world ), coming up with conjectures, testing them against evidences that are  procurable, critically examining them and rejecting those that do not fit  and in  the face of those that stand irrefutable, explain in a causal manner the problem one started off with and on the basis  of  the deeper   insight into the problem now,  generate another problem perhaps more complex than the initial.

Such a view of science is reasonably well known and thereforeI shall  not go into the details. What I want to do now is to challenge this notion of science and the companion claim that this is what human RATIONALITY is.

2.0.   The Essence of Hermeneutic Science.   

        Hermeneutic Science distinguishes itself from the scientistics such as that of Popper and at the same  time stands eminently rational and objective as it allows for agreement or
disagreement between different  individuals.  Also it does not seek causal explanations at all i.e. does not operate with the notions of   explicandum and explicans.  It investigates a phenomena, seeks to understand it in an illuminating manner and in that avoids seeking out causal explanations.  What it succeeds  however is to disclose the structure of the phenomena so that now one sees more clearly and also begin to see probably for the first time, things in the phenomena itself that were initially accessed only dimly or not at all.  The phenomena lights up so to speak and hermeneutic science is that intellectual activity that does this lighting  up.  And  an investigator having  thus lighted up the phenomena for himself articulates this improved understanding of his through  generating a meta-discourse so that another person can have the same new  and considerably better informed understanding as his that he now possesses.  Thus the new understanding gained  becomes  something another can agree or disagree with.  Where agreement is  reached, it  can be assumed the understanding articulated through the metadiscourse is objective.

The possibility of different individuals coming to an agreement about the structural  features of  a  phenomena ensures that unlike artistic appreciation,  metadiscourses are not idiosyncratic but rather objective.

 Such an activity where there are no conjectures  followed  by testing and  so forth, nevertheless is  objective and hence an expression of human rationality as much as scientistics.  The metadiscourses  that are generated are products of reflective and immensely analytical thinking and as such are also distinct  from fascinating and detailed  appreciative and hence experiential accounts.

We shall now introduce some technical terms and  illustrate them  with suitable examples.

First of all we have to clarify  the notion of objects of  investigations, what we procure and examine.  What hermeneutic science (or sciences) investigates are TEXTS.  By  texts  we mean the various kinds of productions that  in  fact occur in natural existence.  Conversations between two  individuals, the   interactions that take place in the classroom, in the courthouse, police station, the market  place and so   forth; the exercises that are done by the children, the mathematics problems they  solve (or fail to solve), the essays they write, the  drawings they  produce,the  models they build and so  forth, the activities they  indulge in either individually or in groups, their habits in dressing, in speaking and what not.  In short  everything that is produced and hence become an element of the objective world is a TEXT.  Through  such  texts, because they are productions of  human beings,  they are actually exteriorizing something of
themselves through them. And by analyzing such TEXTS in an appropriate manner we can get an  understanding of the person as he is, as an individual with such and such competencies at his disposal and  so forth.  In looking at the objects of investigations as TEXTS  i.e. things  that can tell something about the person who produces it provided we learn to read it
appropriately, we are avoiding the dominant tendency in scientistics to interpret what is observed in terms of a presupposed model and thereby   introducing a reductionism of some kind into the investigation.  All theories are kinds of models and when understanding is dominated by a model, a partial blindness is introduced into what is seen and thereby some kind of reductionism.Behaviorism in psychology is a good example.  The paradigm of conditioning whether operant or classical blinds us to the co-operative dimension of human interactive behaviour and many socio-psychological structures that are unavoidably present in any social interaction.  Thus the hermeneutic science emphasizes the need to be OPEN  to  the  phenomena, be   prepared to see it as  it is, as it discloses itself from within itself as Heidegger would put it (Heidegger, 1962  pp  49-63).  This non- theoretical, non-modellic openness to receive the productions  i.e. the texts as they are in themselves is what we understand  by phenomenology. Thus Hermeneutic science is phenomenological in  its attitude towards its objects of investigations.  Within this attitude what it takes up  for  investigation are TEXTS.  The phenomenological attitude is a MODE OF BEING that any  Hermeneutic    Scientist must assume in order not to do violence to the notion of  OBJECTIVITY and OPENNESS, the primordial orientation that secures rationality  for its endeavor.  The texts thus identified, because they are  free from  the manipulative interventions of the investigator-only made possible because of the  phenomenological attitude-holds the possibility of truly disclosing what the person is or the child is.  We can access the person as he is himself through the texts that he produces out of himself free from  the   manipulations of the investigator.

        A  cautionary note is necessary here. The concept of texts as elements  that are to be investigated in hermeneutic science does not include stimulated  productions.  After all the so called naturally and  spontaneously produced  texts are contextually conditioned.  For example the exercises done by a child  or  the artistic productions effected under the instructions of a
teacher are somewhat  stimulated  by  creating  appropriate contextual pressures that would oblige the child to produce such things.  Creating such contextual pressures that are not perhaps
natural may be necessary for certain types of investigations e.g. Piagetian  type of investigations into the stages of cognitive development of children.  But such productions that are minimally directive are to be distinguished, from experimental  situations where the subjects are so restricted that they can respond  only with  a  yes or no and react pressing buttons and so forth.  Such highly restrictive structuring of the contextual situations are     designed to avoid precisely the texts that are the basic objects for hermeneutic science.  They are so  restrictive that meaningful texts are not produced.  So in short, the primary objects that are studied in hermeneutic science are productions that are texts and as long as creating contextual situations that do not  by designprevent  the productions of texts as such, the possibility of hermeneutic science is not jeopardized.

 Now  the  second important structure or principle of hermeneutic science concerns with respect to the kind of  investigations it undertakes.  For a text, for example the video recordings of a  conversation or its transcript, is a record and it can be studied in so many different ways from different angles.

  In fact an endless number of possibilities exist for such studies and furthermore they may be interminable in the sense that the conclusions of one may initiate another. In  this the hermeneutic science distinguishes itself by raising ontological  questions, questions  pertaining to the modes of being that is intimately linked up with the texts as productions.  The child who writes an essay discloses modes of Being of himself that are encapsulated in the texts i.e. the essay he writes. The manner in which he introduces the theme, the manner he sequences the topics, highlights certain aspects recalls certain things, projects certain ideas, camouflages  the unpleasant, distorts  deliberately certain issues and so forth are to be seen in the texts themselves and are immediately disclosive of what kind of person he is,  what modes of Being  he has succeed in crystallizing and making part of  what he is.  When he deliberately distorts certain aspects, or camouflages it with verbal tricks, we see that he has accessed and crystallized a mode of Being in which prejudice shows itself.

 We shall give some concrete examples shortly to illustrate the point.  What should be noted here is that hermeneutic science raises the most fundamental question that can be raised about texts  that are  productions of human beings.  Each text carries along with it modes of Being of the individual who  produced the texts and thereby allow an understanding of the person as he is, as he discloses himself from within himself through the texts. We access the person  NOT  in  terms of conceptual networks  that   are prefabricated according to a model one fancies but rather allow our understanding to be illuminated by submitting our cognitive processes  fully to be informed by what the person is  himself, how he  discloses himself from within himself through the  texts.  In this way we access the TRUTH about the person and not possible ways of categorizing him, of classifying him.  The principle that we  raise ontological questions with respect to
the meaning of  TEXTS, brings  us  to the hermeneutic dimensions of our paradigm.  At the moment though there is no uniform meaning to the word hermeneutics, though it is used in literature in various but related senses, a common thread is the notion of interpretation. We  read a text and for getting at the meaning it embodies, we have to interpret it.

Gadamer a prominent figure in the recent developments in philosophical hermeneutics, compares the process of interpreting a text of with that of translating, moving from one language into another keeping however the meaning essentially  the same.  But here I shall depart from the interpretive concept ofreading a text widely current  in  Western Hermeneutics and
subscribe  to the learning concept of reading well entrenched in Saiva  Siddhanta tradition in Indian Philosophy as propounded by Thirumular  (7th  cent  A.D) and Meykandar (13 cent  A.D)  andso forth.  When  we approach a text as a problematic, it engages us meaningfully by disclosing to us an area of ignorance or  DARKNESS in understanding.  A TEXT is a text only because by its content and structure it discloses to us what we are yet to understand  i.e. what is right now beyond our understanding. Thus it engages us by throwing out a challenge to our inquisitiveness to know, to  learn.

We  approach  then a text with a limited understanding of  it,  an understanding that is superficial, global, partial and soforth and characterized by doubts, uncertainties, absence of clarity and so     forth.  Then in order to remove this cognitively dissonant kind of  mode of Being of ourselves in relation to the text,  we reflect, think, ponder, raise questions that are relevant, check on certain conjectures, cross check with others, re-examine the text in the face of some new questions that have emerged and so forth.

These are the kinds of activities we marshal in connection with removing  the area of Darkness in our understanding the  text  has succeeded in disclosing.  When these activities are sufficiently effective  this initial Darkness is no more - that area of Darkness becomes lighted up, illuminated.

  This movement of understanding whereby an area of Darkness  or ignorance is removed by reading the text in the above ways is what call learning. Thus learning is the REDUCTION OF
IGNORANCE brought about by reading a TEXT.  This reduction in the Scope of  Darkness in  understanding is simultaneous with becoming illuminated  with respect to certain matters.  There is less  ignorance now and simultaneously more knowledge.

But what brings about this change in the mode of Being of  the person who succeeds in reading a text?

There are things within the texts themselves that are now in his understanding such that there is  less  ignorance now.  The text then tells something, discloses something whereby the person is less  ignorant. We call such elements LUMEN to distinguish it from such similar  notions  as  insights, perceptions and so forth which have their own connotations.  We  term  them LUMENS in view of the fact  that they illuminate our  understanding.  In the course of the various activities while  reading a text, such LUMENS flow into us, so to speak, lighting up an area of relative darkness within us.

        We  should  also notice that LUMENS are TRUTHS  for  they  are already  there  in the TEXTS but which we did not access at the initial stages.  We note certain structural features i.e. the  facts in  the texts and raise questions pertaining to their  being-there as  such  and such.  In the wake of  such  ontological  questions, we access the deeper elements in the texts themselves whereby we gain an understanding with respect to the being-there of the facts as such.  In this improved and deeper understanding of the text,  the     understanding does not wander away from the text itself  provided  it remains steadfast in its phenomenological attitude.  Within  this attitude the ontological inquiry unearths what is already  within    the texts but hidden from view at the initial stages.  Thus the hermeneutic inquiry, in the sense outlined here unearths what is there already in the texts but which remain unseen at the initial stages but now seen
in all its majesty.  Since what is there already in the texts are TRUTHS, clearly what hermeneutic science  succeeds in discovering are TRUTHS.  Since accessing these hidden elements in the body of the texts is simultaneously becoming illuminated about what in itself is, such TRUTHS in relation to this dimension    of understanding become LUMENS.

        We have now provided a preliminary sketch of the two basic principles of Hermeneutic Science viz.

What it is concerned with are TEXTS and that its research orientation is Ontological  i.e. disclosing  TRUTHS  already available in the structure of  texts. These TRUTHS  are simultaneously  LUMENS  that  light up human understanding, effect a reduction of ignorance  i.e. enable  the growth of learning.

We shall now proceed  to illustrate these points from analyzing classroom interactions.

3.0 Hermeneutic Analysis of Classroom Interactions

       We  notice that a classroom interactional discourse is a  joint production, something produced jointly by a teacher and a group of children. Furthermore it is a text that unlike say a  conversation, is not spontaneous but rather stimulated under certain contextual pressures, the details of which need not concern us here at  the moment.  We can get a record of this text through videotaping  and  transcribing. This  transcription  with  the  necessary contextual features appropriately indicated, becomes a faithful record of what transpired in the classroom, what is jointly produced  by the teacher and pupil.  This record when read for the first time  (even by the teacher  himself), a peculiar  problem  arises: we  do not understand it fully; we can raise a host of questions  pertaining  to  its  structure that we cannot answer immediately.  The  record  then, becomes  a  TEXT in the sense we have  delineated  above  and     invites  us to interrogate it in order to be at ease with  respect to the plethora of questions that can crop up.

        The following is the English Version of an excerpt from such  a  Text, the original being in Bahasa



    (Teacher  has just finished reading a narrative from a  book.While she was reading the pupils were

following her but using their own copies.  The event constitutes the first episode)

1.  T.  Ha:  now cikgu wants to ask questions about what cikgu  read (just now).  Do you all understand or

 2.  C. (chorus):  understand !

 3.  T. Ha:,  (you) understand, good (pause)

 4.  T. If you had understood, you can answer my questions, yes?

  5.  (pupils nod their heads)

  7.  T. Okay now you (all) look at this picture

           ((The Picture is a drawing in the blackboard depicting

  8.  T.  Where can you get a scene such as this? (pause, looks  at the children)

  9.  C.  (silence)

10.  T.  Where can you get a scene similar to this?

11.  C.  (silence)

12.  T.  In this picture, who is Ali?

    [ T : Teacher; C : Class, pupils;  Cikgu(m) : Teacher]

 To illustrate the form of Hermeneutic Science, we shall choose here only one aspect, or structural FACT of this text. viz. the occurrence of the complex discourse marker okay, now (Malay: Baik, sekarang).When we range over a large number of such texts, it is found that

1)  it occurs periodically in the teachings of all teachers no matter what subject they teach.

2)  Sometimes it is not full and sometimes different words are choosen e.g. well, well now and so forth.

3)  But practically in all cases, the activities that precede the occurrence of this phrase are different in some ways from those that follow.

4) Whenever it occurs, it is always the teacher who uses it and not any one of the children.

 These are the basic FACTS that we can gather through an examination of the distributional pattern of the phrase and the contexts of its occurrence.  Having gathered these facts about it, a simple reflection discloses that: Whenever it occurs there is episodization, terminating one sequence of activities and initiating at the same time another sequence of activities, distinct from the earlier.

This then is a LUMEN that we have got without which much effort, provided we isolate this phrase and note the facts of its occurrences from the texts themselves.  It is a TRUTH that there is such a thing as episodization, the terminating of one sequence of activities and initiating another as evidenced by the qualitative difference in the activities that precede and follow, to be noted within the texts themselves.

  Now having accessed the presence of episodization as a TRUTH that is there but hidden for ordinary glance and hence something that has to be wrested out by the appropriate selection of facts and the raising of questions, we are in a position to ask further questions by bringing it to bear upon certain other factual matters.

We notice that we access the presence of EPISODIZATION through the factual presence of the discourse marker `Baik, sekarang' and its equivalence.  Our present understanding of episodization as an act that terminates one sequence of activities and initiates another can now be seen as somewhat incomplete.

For `sekarang' (now) is a temporal term and we do not understand at this juncture, why episodization should link with a temporal term.  We can paraphrase roughly the episodization as a phenomenon with the verbal expression `stop that, stop this' and so forth.  The `now', has the sense of `enpresenting' (to use a phrase of Heidegger), bringing into being-there something when the ongoing at the point of episodizing becomes something of the past, what went on but no more but now in its place something else becomes the ongoing.  In other words, episodization is simultaneously historicalising, pushing the ongoing into this past and introducing as the current something in its place.  The interactions between the teacher and pupils is not only sequentially organized movement, a sequence of episodes but also a movement where there is historicalising, in the above sense.

 This then is another LUMEN or TRUTH somewhat deeper than the initial that we access, learn to SEE when we raise further questions after noting the presence of episodization in the texts.  Episodization only discloses the terminating of one kind of activities and initiating another.  This understanding is deepened further by noting that it is more appropriately historicalising, and a host of new questions crop up now when we link it up with other textual facts that have been gathered.

 For from the texts themselves we note that it is always the teacher who uses the phrase and never the child.  Thus it shows with the LUMENS we have gained that it is the teacher who episodizes or historicalizes.  This LUMEN is rather simple and can be said to be rather obvious, quite plain, anyone can see it without any hermeneutic-reflective effort.  But not so, in the wake of some questions we can raise now.  That it is only the teacher and NOT the child who episodizes, historicalizes has  to be understood for it is rather enigmatic, puzzling.  We want to ask: What is there in the instructional situations (such as the ones we are analyzing) such that it is only the teacher who episodizes, historicalizes and not the child?

The answer - the noting and naming something already in the text - is not easy to come by and considerable hermeneutic effort becomes necessary.

 In connection with this, because historicalising is that which structures interactional situations, introduces the kind of texture it has, the teacher is in privileged Mode of Being in being a teacher in that situation, a privilege that is NOT enjoyed by the children.  He has the freedom to introduce what he pleases (within the constraints of the instructional situation, of course) into the interactions and thereby give it a texture that otherwise it would not have, a freedom that the children do not have.  Thus we see the teacher being a LEADER in that situation and correspondingly the children being the LED.  Hence there is POWER-STRUCTURE present as an important element in the classroom interaction in such a way that almost the whole of POWER is vested in the hands of the teacher and not the pupils.  In episodizing,
historicalizing, the teacher exercises this POWER and thus discloses himself as the LEADER of the situation with the children in it as the LED.

 So this is a LUMEN that we have got now as an important element that contributes to the textual structure of the structure of the classroom interaction.  In its wake, it raises another question: What does it really mean to say that the teacher is the LEADER while the children are the LED?  Our understanding at this point, though sufficiently differentiated to linguisticalize it, is not however fully clear.  What is hidden, we want to ask, in the notion that the teacher is a LEADER and the children are the LED?

 This makes us look at the whole of the text, its beginnings, its sequential developments and its closings.  We are forced to look at the WHOLE of the text in order to be further clear about this notion.  I shall  mention here without going the details that, the teacher is LEADER because he has an END-IN-SIGHT that he institutes right at the beginning of the instructional situation and that this remains his global INTENTION throughout the interaction and the interaction is brought to a closure when he sees that this global INTENTION has been achieved.  He is a leader because it is he who has this global intention, the END-IN-SIGHT that institutes the instruction as such, i.e. brings into Being- there the interactivity as such.

The children do not generate this END-IN-SIGHT but own it as their own when projected by the teacher at the beginning of the lesson.

Thus the Mode of Being of both the teacher and the children are vectorial, intention infected; their Modes of Being are pre-organized towards actions of a  specific kind - instructional-type for the teacher and learning-type for the children.  Further questions of the hermeneutic kind discloses that there are interactions within the classroom only because the teacher and the children are WITH-EACH-OTHER the moment they share the same END-IN-SIGHT.  Their social relations are conditioned by a socio-psychological structure of WITHNESS, a Mode of Being in which neither the teacher nor the children can be autonomous, indifferent to each other.  There are OBLIGATIONS on both sides the moment the SITUATION comes into being, an obligation that continues to exist till the situation as such is dissolved.

To summarize the essentials, without going into the details, we can see that the kind of inquiry we have conducted so far is rather different from what is going now in classroom interaction analysis.  We looked at the episodization phenomena and going deeper and deeper into it while remaining steadfast in our phenomenological attitude, we learned to see more and more.  But the isolation of the episodization phenomena has enabled us to see what can be called GLOBAL STRUCTURE of the instructional situations for we cannot understand the teacher as LEADER and the children as LED without looking at the WHOLE of the text.  When we do that we see further that episodization comes along with instituting a situation where an END-IN-SIGHT is introduced as the Global Intentional Orientation of the situation.  This is done in the OPENINGS of the instruction.  And corresponding to this instituting, there is also the dissolving of the situation that happens at the closure of the instruction.  Episodization takes place between these openings and closings and is made possible only because there is the socio-psychological structure of  WITHNESS that makes the teacher and the children an interacting group, a collectivity interacting with each other towards an end.  When we see further the progressive movement from the openings to the CLOSURE, we see that the whole situation is dynamic, that it is essentially progressive-historical, historicalising periodically and because there is a need to move towards a closure which happens when the END-IN-SIGHT projected right at the beginning becomes a reality, they are now in the Mode of Being intended right at the beginning.  This progressive movement towards the close also discloses another sociopsychological structure: that of TOGETHERNESS, for unless they are together with each other, a collective movement towards an end is impossible.

3.1  The Local Structure

 The kind of LUMENS we have named and articulated above though they enable us to understand the global structure of the classroom interactions, is not sufficient however to understand the action-reaction pairs that we see as a fact of the text.  In the text above, the utterances (1,2), (2,3), (4,5) and so forth have a coherence, a relatedness, an intimacy that we cannot make sense of in terms of LUMENS we have though they may be absolutely necessary.  For the elements of the Global Structure are the sorts of things that make possible the being-there as a reality such action-reaction pairs.  But however something more specific
is there in such pairs that we intuit and within this unclear understanding isolate them as pairs having some kind of coherence.  We have to analyze them hermeneutically in order to gain an understanding that will make this vague understanding something more perspicuous.  For this purpose, let us look at the pairs (6,7), (7,8), (8,9), (9,10) and (10,11), (11,12).  Here (6,7) is quite easy to understand: The teacher asks them to look at a picture and the children do precisely that.  Here we have COMMAND-COMPLIANCE kind of relationship.  But when we look at (8.9) (9,10) and so forth it becomes problematic.  The silence of children is a language, a text whose meaning is ambiguous.  It can mean that the children are reluctant to respond.

But this can be ruled out because just before this episode they responded quite well verbally.  Another possibility is that they are puzzled, unclear with respect to what is required of them and so forth.  Or it may be that the children have not heard clearly the question posed.  That the teacher repeats the question almost verbatim discloses to us that this is how the teacher interpreted the silence of children.  They did not respond because they did not hear me.  But silence is again obtained when the question is repeated in the pair (10,11).  Now the subsequent behaviour shows that the teacher now interprets differently the meaning of the silence.  The repetition of the question loud and clear has ruled out the possibility of poor acoustic conditions.  The silence that is again obtained, then cannot be because they did not hear but rather because they do not understand.  Such questions are  non-productive, cannot produce the intended reaction.  So now the teacher abandons that mode of questioning and shifts to another form - that of identifying the various individuals depicted in the picture.

We see that each time a teacher says something, an intention is projected as for the children and that she moves to a different act only when this intention is owned up by the children as their own and realize a Mode of Being indicative of that or there is a failure in this.  Thus when the teacher invites the children to look up the picture, the children in fact look up.  The children here grasp the intention projected by the teacher either modify the text keeping the intention the same or abandon that intention itself and come up with another possibly simpler question, something within the competence of the children to understand and realize.  The phenomena where the teacher throws out an intention and the children understand it, own it as their own is what we have termed INTENTION-FUSION, a specific case of the more general INTENTION-ACCOMODATION more frequent in non-instructional interactions such as casual conversations and so forth.

 Bringing about intention-fusion whereby children are stimulated to crystallize, bring into existence a Mode of Being would then turn out to be the essence of the instructional interactions as such.  This is what teaching is and correspondingly what learning is.  The children in crystallizing various Modes of Being in the course of interacting with the teacher, actually exteriorize potentialities within, realize them as now within their understanding, within what they can do and so forth.  What they crystallize in their behaviour is no more something they are ignorant of, something that is inaccessible to them.

4.0  The Logic of Hermeneutic Science

 We have provided a sketch of what we have called Hermeneutic Science, a brief practice of that is sufficient to disclose its essentials, its flavor.  With this accomplished, we can return now to the basic question we started off with: In what sense Hermeneutic Science qualifies to be called a science, an expression of human rationality just as vigorous as the scientistics that Popper champions as the logic of Science.  His claim that scientistics has the Structure: P1 -----> TT -------> EE -------> P2 (and its many other complexfications) is clearly something that we cannot subscribe to without important modifications that are actually equivalent to throwing his schema.  We propose the following as something that truly represents

the essentials of the logic of Hermeneutic Science. [2]

Schema B

  E    (F1) ---> (On.Q1) ---> (L1) ---> (F2) ---> (On.Q2) --->


F         :  Facts i.e. observable features from texts themselves

On.Q.  :  Ontological questions

L          :  Lumens and truths.

MT   : metatext

4.1  Objectivity in Hermeneutic Science

 One of the objections raised by scholars against hermeneutics is that it is idiosyncratic and hence rather subjective.  This is of course a gross misunderstanding, something that arises because an appreciative account of a  TEXT is not distinguished from what we have called metadiscourses, textual productions that embody lumens about the primary text or discourse.  But what is the difference?

 An appreciative account is NOT ontological in its orientation to the text.  Such an account may highlight certain structural features, compare it with others, articulate the various feelings it arouses, emotions it evokes, relate the wonder it appears to be, or condemn the lack of taste, nicety, style and what not.  The focus is on the structural features - the facts in the texts, as we have called it, - the facts in the texts, as we have called it, - and the impact it has on oneself as a human being.  Such articulations of one's own reactions towards some aspects of the texts is not what we have called metadiscourses for here they lack the raising of the ontological questions pertaining to the structural facts.  There are no hermeneutic problems that challenges the understanding and where considerable effort is expended to wrest out a deeper understanding of the text, through gaining a vision hither to unavailability of TRUTHS that remain hidden within it.  The metadiscourses are objective and NOT idiosyncratic for they are articulations of TRUTHS that are articulations of TRUTHS that are in the texts themselves that anybody can SEE for himself provided he assembles the same facts, raises the same ontological questions.  When he succeeds in gaining the same LUMENS  as the initial researcher then an agreement comes to prevail between the two.

It must be noted that this notion of intersubjective agreement, is not the same as the principle of refutability or intersubjective confirmation that is noted as the essence of scientistics.  For there is no replication but only examining the same texts.  The possibility of replicating an experiment is the essence of scientistics and only on this basis that we talk of refutability, confirmation, verification and so forth.  What is thus replicated and confirmed acquires the status of an objectivity valid claim that can now be stated as a natural law.

 In contrast to this what we have is the same text understood as embodying certain TRUTHS by one investigator and which he articulates in a  metadiscourse, and another person re-examining the same with respect to these claims.  Such a person has to learn to see in the same manner as the first person and when he gains the same LUMENS as the initial investigator, then he agrees with the validity and accuracy of the claims of the metadiscourse.

 There are certain principles that underlie this process of coming to agree (or disagree) with the metadiscourse.  We can list them as follows:

A)  Principle of Consistency

      This is quite easy enough to see and possibly not peculiar to metadiscourses as such.  But nevertheless we list it here for it serves an important principle for rejecting (or accepting) a metadiscourse.  TRUTHS    cannot contradict each other: one TRUTH cannot be inconsistent with another.  And since metadiscourses are articulations of TRUTHS as such, we can see that the account as a whole must be consistent within itself, logically speaking.

B)  Principle of Substantiation

     This principle may be the most distinctive of the hermeneutic science.  For in the course of hermeneutic inquiry it is very easy to slide into the appreciative mode or even propaganda type, condemnatory and so forth.  This principle helps to safeguard against such deviations.  Since metadiscourses are articulations of TRUTHS in the texts themselves that one learns to see by gaining LUMENS, there must be evidences for validating the presence of such TRUTHS in the texts.  Since the facts and the ontological questions raised provide the LUMENS, it is clear that every claim in the metadiscourse is substantiable in terms of two things: the facts in the texts and ontological questions raised about them.  The facts are interrogated ontologically and the LUMENS gained.  Therefore they serve as the disclosive features (called laksanas in Indian Nyaya Tradition).  Every hermeneutic claim is substantiable in terms of these disclosive features and hence any claim that is in the metadiscourse that is not substantiated in this way or not substantiable in this manner even in principle can be rejected as pure fancy, a whim, or  wish, an imaginative play of words and so forth.  Now TEXTS embody an infinity of TRUTHS.  The classroom discourse that we have cited can be analyzed even hermeneutically in so many different ways so that a plethora of metadiscourses can be generated.  They may be consistent and every claim may even be substantiated in the above sense.  Some new principles come to prevail in the wake of this multiple possibilities.  The problem is akin to that which exists in scientistics with regard to the different but equally possible theories can be used to explain a phenomena.

C)  The Principle of Inadequacy

       If there are two metadiscourses, say X and Y such that Y articulates LUMENS while X articulates only glimpses of them, understanding that are NOT FALSE but still vague and so forth, then Y is to be preferred over X.  And if Ax and Ay are the corresponding approaches i.e. the manner the disclosive features are brought together and interrogated, then Ay is to be preferred over Ax, on the basis that  Ax is INADEQUATE in comparison with Ay.  Now justifying an approach and hence accepting as valid a metadiscourse using the above principles may not be always at the expense of others.  We do not always reject a metadiscourse just because it is different from one currently prevailing.  In other words, it is possible to allow for growth but on valid grounds.  We can describe this principles as follows:

D)  The Principle of Distinctiveness

       An approach X, possibly only now being introduced is acceptable along with the existing approaches  Y1, Y2 ... Yn and so forth provided it discloses LUMENS not disclosed by others, i.e. it is distinctive in that it serves to unearth TRUTHS that have remained undisclosed hitherto.

 These principles, and the exercise of them distinguishes Hermeneutic Science from scientistics.  It is clear also that Hermeneutic Science as such is immensely rational and just as objective as the scientistics that is championed by philosophers like Popper as the expression of human rationality.

 The truths that are disclosed by Hermeneutic Science are not universal LAWS, but rather realities there in the world to be seen wherever the disclosive features are observed.  In this way the hermeneutic science transforms the ontological inquiries, so far only pursued by philosophers, into a vigorous science, just as objective and rational as any science can be.  Armed with such understandings a person sees more in a situation than an average person and thereby contributes more effectively towards solving problems that may arise.  It builds up the competency of the researcher and thereby more effective in solving the many
problems that may arise.

5.0  Curriculum Research as a Hermeneutic Science

 In our example to illustrate the essentials of Hermeneutic Science, we took aspects from classroom interactions.  This is no accident for it is problems in connection with teaching behaviour that necessitated the deep thinking that resulted in the formulation of Hermeneutic Science as the most effective approach to understanding the nature of the problems.

 What new insights (or LUMENS) do we get when we look at the school curriculum from the point of view of hermeneutic science?

 First of all we notice that whatever that happens in the school are not simply behaviour or responses elicited by various kinds of stimuli because of some previous contingencies of reinforcement.  Neither are they simply mechanical productions such as that of computers indicative of some cognitive processes.  Whatever we can identify are texts produced intentionally (some unintentionally) by people which are simultaneously that of bringing into being-there something which otherwise would not exist.  We use the term `crystallization' to describe this way of looking at the productions of texts.  The verbal responses, certain kinds social behaviour, habits, drawings, essays, exercises, reports and so forth are texts that are brought into being-there by these crystallizing or enpresenting processes.

 These texts are the realities that we can examine and evaluate with respect to the attainment or
absence of it in relation to the GLOBAL INTENTIONS that we have for the school as a whole. The texts are stimulated productions of both the children and teachers, it is that for which the school as an institution exists.  The school exists as a psychotechnological institution in which a specified kind of textual productions are expected.  It is also understood that these productions are simultaneously learning activities when it pertains to the students, teaching activities when it pertains to the teachers.

 The teachers however though most immediately related to the students who actually produce the various kinds of texts, are not absolutely independent in what they can do.  They are constrained somewhat in what they can do in the classroom with the children.  When we ask the question: What constraints them among many things that we can name as a way of answering them the most important is certainly the curriculum.  The school curriculum is that which regulates the textual productions of the teacher and thereby the textual productions of the children.When we inquire further within the hermeneutical  framework we can note further that the school curriculum is NOT simply a list of topics, a sequential organization of them with a list of possible instructional strategies and so forth but rather the GLOBAL INTENTION of the society as a whole (via the Ministry of Education or some other social groups such as church, a welfare society and so forth).  In the choice of topics and its prescription to the teacher the Global Intention of the society exists there in the school, requiring that the teacher agrees with that and produce teaching texts consistent with that.

This analysis then of what the school curriculum is, discloses how the instructional activities of the teacher and the learning activities of the children it brings about are related to the social intentions of the community as a whole.  With this LUMEN, of course we can raise enormous numbers of new questions that would help us further in our understanding of what a school in fact is, what kind of a social reality it is and why some do well and others don't.  We shall not go into all these as our purpose is to point out the relevance of Hermeneutic Science in such studies, a task which we believe we have accomplished from whatever we have said so far.


[1]  For details on this issue see the relevant chapters of K. Loganathan Mutharayan (1992) where very detailed analysis of classroom texts are discussed.  Here we present only elements of it sufficient for the purposes of discussing the issue.

[2]   For more detailed discussion on this issue see chapter 9 of K. Loganathan Mutharayan (1992).  The present one is a slightly improved version, where now I have also introduced the Principle of Substantiation as something very important in the logic of Hermeneutic Science.


1.  Gadamer,  Truth and Method

2.  Heidegger, Martin, (1962).  Being and Time. (Eng. Trans) by Macquarrie & Robinson, Basil Black Well.

3.  Loganathan Mutharayan K.  (1992).  Hermeneutic Analysis of Discourse, International School of
      Dravidian Linguistics, India.

4.   Popper Karl R. (1972).  Objective Knowledge, Oxford Clarenden Press.