Friday, 10 August 2012

Beneath Interpretation… Pragmatism Meets Phenomenology

SHUSTERMAN, R. (1991) Beneath Interpretation. In: D.R. HILEY, J.F. BOHMAN, and R. SHUSTERMAN (Eds.) The Interpretive Turn. Cornell University Press. pp102-128

“Interpretation is also practiced and theorized in terms of formal structure with the aim not so much of exposing hidden meanings but of connecting unconcealed features and surfaces so as to see and present the work as a well-related whole.” (p108)

The formal structure of interpretation from a pragmatist perspective seeks to connect the parts with the whole experience being interpreted. It is not so much focused on simply revealing the hidden, it is more interested in the connections between the internal and external features of an experience to arrive at a full understanding of its meaning. This separates this from a phenomenological approach that is concerned with revealing the hidden. So pragmatism supports interpretation and synthesised with phenomenology can provide a structure to not only examine an experience through the aesthetic, but also to strengthen the validity of a phenomenological methodology against accusations of being unscientific. Although a full Ihdean postphenomenology is not what is being advocated, there are lessons in the synthesising the best of both philosophies into a practical visual communication methodology. 

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