Applying the method is what the person does who never finds out anything new, who never brings to light an interpretation that has revelatory power. (Gadamer, 2001, 42)
Aristotle was, for Gadamer, a major presence within the hermeneutical tradition. The distinctions Aristotle drew in his Nicomachean Ethics between different forms of reasoning were crucial in defining the nature of understanding and threw into sharp relief what Gadamer termed ‘the problem of method’, i.e. the erroneous assumption that that methods have universal application. Gadamer argued that within the human sciences the notion of ‘method’ had been misunderstood and misapplied. Methods may have their minor uses but can never in themselves lead to understanding. Only by engaging with the particular question posed by the object of inquiry – and addressed to us in our unique situations and with our unique histories – can we begin to understand that object. In becoming educated we become more receptive to the world around us and the questions it asks of us. We become worldlier. Education is centrally concerned with enabling us to move out into the world as confident thinkers capable of acknowledging the uniqueness of the problems facing us.
Jon Nixon is an independent scholar based in the UK and affiliated to the Education University of Hong Kong as an Honorary Professor and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow within the Centre for Lifelong Learning Research and Development. His most recently authored books are: Gadamer: The Hermeneutical Imagination (Springer, 2017) and Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Friendship (Bloomsbury, 2015). Other recently authored books are: Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education: Arendt, Berger, Said, Nussbaum and their Legacies (Bloomsbury, 2012), Higher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University (Bloomsbury, 2011) and Towards the Virtuous University: The Moral Bases of Academic Practice (Routledge, 2008). Recently edited books include: Higher Education in Austerity Europe (Bloomsbury, 2017, in press), Academic Identities in Higher Education: The Changing European Landscape (with Evans, Bloomsbury, 2015) and The Reorientation of Higher Education: Challenging the East-West Dichotomy (with Adamson and Su, Springer 2012). He is a founding editor of the Bloomsbury Perspectives on Leadership in Higher Education Series. He is currently completing a book entitles Rosa Luxemburg and the Struggle for Democratic Renewal to be published by Pluto Press in the spring of 2018. His full list of publications can be accessed via his website: www.jonnixon.com
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