Which Hermeneutical Method Is Suggested by the New Historiography of Science

Abstract

Whereas “Science does not think" (Heidegger), the "new historiography of science" - mainly Koyré's and Kuhn's ones - has addressed our minds to think about science in a new way. Recently Heelan suggested taking this new viewpoint for conceiving hermeneutic method in a more adequate way to present scientific practice. By an interpretative analysis of the categories of the above two historians, the present paper suggests a new way to conceive the foundations of science. Two basic dichotomies result: on the kind of logic and on the kind of mathematics. They generate four models of scientific theory, sharply severed by the radical differences in their respective choices; that offers an accurate definition of incommensurability and even of an alternative scientific theory to a dominant one, which can be properly called a paradigm. In the past hermeneutic scholars gave negative appraisals on Western science; according to the new viewpoint recognising pluralism in the foundations of science, these appraisals concern the dominant paradigm only. In the light of the basic dichotomies a new way to define hermeneutics is suggested; it can be qualified in short by the following words: ‘The understanding of science is the science of understanding’.

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