Man and World

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 369-381

First online:

Thingly hermeneutics/Technoconstructions

  • Don IhdeAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, SUNY at Stony Brook

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Within the Euro-American community of philosophers relating hermeneutics to science there is a considerable disagreement about where hermeneutics may be located. The older traditions hold that hermeneutics apply to and are limited to the social, cultural, and historical dimensions of science. But newer approaches claim that hermeneutics applies to the very praxis of science and to the constitution of scientific objects. This paper sides with the latter perspective and argues that a tendency to retain vestigial positivist interpretations of science keeps the older tradition from seeing hermeneutics as deeply embedded in science praxis. After arguing this point historically, I turn to a hermeneutic recuperation of science, first by drawing from the hermeneutic approach of Joseph Rouse, and then by the “hermeneutic” constructionism of Bruno Latour. I finally turn to what I term “technoconstruction” in science, particularly in imaging processes, to show concrete cases of the hermeneutic preparation of scientific objects. I conclude that contemporary science has exceeded its earlier modernist framework and now operates in a constructionist-hermeneutic framework.