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Monday
Dec172012

Hermeneutics

I am currently doing a lot of reading and thinking about hermeneutics. It forms a part of my post-doctoral work.

I found the following quote insightful and quite helpful.

All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation… for interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.

- Edward Said

My previous doctorate focused a great deal on how the human brain shapes our identity and experience. From a neurobiological perspective our brains 'filter' reality. What we experience to be 'true' and 'real' are shaped by how our brains shape and parse the information that we receive through our senses. For example, a person who has survived a serious accident may respond to speed in a different way to a person who has fond memories of racing with friends as a child. The data may be identical (geographical location, route, and even the actual speed), but the experience of the event will vary greatly.

Most of us will accept such variance when it comes to the experience of physical sensations (extrinsic stimuli). However, it applies equally to mental and emotional sensations such as knowledge, memory and experience.

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