Pedagogical Implications of Hermeneutical Philosophy in Education

Taft, William Orville. 2002. Pedagogical Implications of Hermeneutical Philosophy in Education. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The purpose of this thesis is to establish a foundation for a process model of education based on the hermeneutical philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer. The first chapter discusses the general precepts that characterize hermeneutics as a variant of postmodern philosophy. Special attention is paid to the problematic nature of knowledge and the implications that has for the development of curricular studies and pedagogical practices.

Chapter Two examines the basic ideas of Gadamer's philosophy, especially as they apply to educational issues. Most importantly, his conception of interpretive understanding proves to be conversational in nature. At the heart of conversational knowledge is an I-Thou relationship, which guides participants engaged in discussion as well as learners involved with the interpretation of all forms of textuality.

Chapter Three outlines three characteristics of a hermeneutically guided pedagogy. These are 1) the usefulness of authoritative expertise 2) the need to employ a text-centered curriculum, and 3) the propriety of setting personal self-development as the paramount goal of any curriculum. These three educational objectives are shown to distinguish a hermeneutically guided curriculum from the historic practices of the Humanities Curriculum Project.

Chapter Four represents a general review of educational literature that is considered hermeneutical. Some of the articles are directly or indirectly supportive of Gadamer's philosophy, others contradictory. All contribute to a point of view that expands upon my own interpretation of Gadamer. They also provide a counterpoint to the conclusions that I initially drew from my research (and reading) and place that research into a broader intellectual context.

The final chapters are an account of experiments I conducted that were predicated on a hermeneutical approach to humanistic studies. My analysis of these experiments yielded the three characteristics of a hermeneutical pedagogy listed above. My conclusion is not the product of an empirically pure search for truth. It is, rather, the result of an interpretive activity that includes a thorough recognition of the presuppositions that condition my own interpretive understanding.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Education; pedagogy; hermeneutical philosophy; Hans-Georg Gadamer

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



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Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2020 11:39

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:32


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