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Naturalistic Hermeneutics by C. Mantzavinos

Naturalistic Hermeneutics (edition 2009)

by C. Mantzavinos

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Naturalistic Hermeneutics, first published in 2005, proposes the position of the unity of the scientific method and defends it against the claim to autonomy of the human sciences. Mantzavinos shows how materials that are 'meaningful', more specifically human actions and texts, can be adequately dealt with by the hypothetico-deductive method, the standard method used in the natural sciences. The hermeneutic method is not an alternative method aimed at the understanding and the interpretation of human actions and texts, but it is the same as the hypothetico-deductive method applied to meaningful materials. The central thesis advocated by Mantzavinos is, thus, that there is no fundamental methodological difference between natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Advanced students and professionals across philosophy, social and political theory, and the humanities will find this a compelling and controversial book.… (more)
Title:Naturalistic Hermeneutics
Authors:C. Mantzavinos
Info:Cambridge University Press (2009), Edition: 1, Paperback, 200 pages
Collections:Your library, Badly written books, For sale
Tags:philosophy - hermeneutics

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Naturalistic Hermeneutics by C. Mantzavinos

Recently added byjoshua.howard, thcson, cbgjr



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I bought this book because it was advertised on the back cover as an "in-depth and sweeping critique" of German hermeneutic philosophy (Gadamer and Heidegger in particular). Allegedly, a naturalistic hermeneutic is developed in this book as an alternative to traditional hermeneutics.

After reading the book, it is incomprehensible to me how anyone could call this feeble piece of work an "in-depth" critique. The author presents a personal, stripped-down version of Gadamer's philosophy which bares little resemblance to the original. Then he promptly proceeds to refute this straw-man argument, all within the space of 20 short pages. Later on, he laments how his straw-man arguments "possess a very low problem-solving capacity" (p.155). I definitely agree with that assessment.

As for "naturalistic hermeneutics", after reading this book I have no idea what this term is supposed to mean. In presenting it the author discusses theories for apprehending human actions and texts by hypotheses and empirical confirmation. Frankly, I didn't read this part of the book very carefully but I do know that this is not hermeneutic philosophy.

This seems to be the key problem with this book. Either the author doesn't understand what hermeneutic philosophy is or he regards it with such contempt that he refuses to allow any validity to its basic tenets. Because of this the book contains no constructive arguments at all. The author believes that Heidegger and Gadamer have proposed a "hermeneutic method" for problem-solving, but such a view is repeatedly denied by Gadamer in his hermeneutic works. Therefore, this alleged critique of hermeneutics is worthless and the alternative theory can not by any stretch of the imagination be called "naturalistic hermeneutics".

I still give this book two stars because I think the motivation behind the book is commendable. Heidegger and Gadamer certainly should be criticized for the lack of clarity in hermeneutic philosophy. But such criticism should not be based on superficial interpretation, and this critique is about as superficial as it gets.
  thcson | Apr 23, 2010 |
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