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Is Psychology a Hermeneutic Science?

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

Psycholinguistic theories of meaning have developed within a univocal, explanatory model of science which is concerned with the use of language rather than its creation. Such a model is insufficient to deal with the complex data of human discourse with its multiple domains in speech, writing, reading, and interpreting. While recognizing the necessity of univocal explanatory procedures in the analysis of meaning the hermeneutic circle of explanation and understanding demands that "interpretation" occupy both a preliminary and a posterior place within a scientific procedure. Problems of the univocal procedure in the study of language development, thought processes, and content analyses are more adequately handled by a hermeneutic model, such as the one developed by Paul Ricoeur on the works of Freud. Freudian psychoanalysis while approximating this model tends to be univocal rather than plurivocal in its treatment of the role of symbols in the creation of meaning. A hermeneutic model would place the crucial emphasis on a dialectic of both suspicion and affirmation.


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