|THE NOTION OF HERMENEUTIC SCIENCE|
|While the West with its preoccupation with reason
and rationality developed the scientistic form of sciences which ultimately results in
novel technological achievements and hence progress in material culture, the Dravidian
folks appear to have developed the hermeneutic forms of it which leads to developments in
spiritual technologies and improvements in mental and physical health. The essential
principles of this form of science is more inclusive than the mathematically oriented
scientistics. For in addition to being quantitative it is also qualitative. There is a
more inclusive concept of reason that has agitated the best of the Dravidian folks and has
finally enabled them to understand Metaphysica Universalis as outlined in the 13th
cent. Civajnana Botham of Meykandar.
The phrase vinaiyin n-Ingki viLangkiya aRivin munaivan that occurs in one of the sutras in TolkAppiyam( circa 3rd cent.B.C.) outlines a notion of OBJECTIVITY that is central to the Hermeneutic Science that we are trying to articulate here. Only an individual who frees himself from prejudices of all sorts (vinai) and because of which he becomes a luminary (munaivan) can be objective and see a thing as it is, as it discloses itself from within itself. This is phenomenology in the true sense of the word, (iyal
n-eRi) and only a person who pursues his studies with this phenomenological stance well established , can see TRUTHS and generate a TEXT that can be VALID and hence authoritative (muthal n-Ul)
Within the phenomenological attitude a person must be DETACHED and hence be NOTHING at least during those moments he is investigating something. Only when he keeps the possibility of NOTHINGNESS firmly in understanding can he remain detached, free of prejudices and hence OBJECTIVE.
Now since objectivity as such is related to a way of Being and hence SEEING it follows that genuine hermeneutic sciences can be developed only by choosing UNDERSTANDING as that which ought to be investigated. For it seeing that generates understanding as such.Since human understanding discloses itself as discourses of various kinds i.e. TEXTS in general, TEXTS are what ought to be procured and investigated, something we see so eminently in the body of TolkAppiyam itself. Over and above the verbal texts, the nonverbal texts such as those obtained in the Baum Test, Family Portrait Test and such other spontaneous productions of man are also taken as TEXTS , something very useful for gaining a true understanding of the machinations of the human mind.
With this clarification it is possible now to explain the meaning of RELIABITY as it obtains in the hermeneutic sciences. The Hermeneutic Scientist, in order to be truly OBJECTIVE , has to be NOTHING in terms of prejudices, at least during those precious moments when he is an investigator. He would then obtain a TEXT without tempering with the productive processes, abstain from interference and such direct or indirect manipulations that would serve to project his OWN ideas rather than that of the subject being investigated. The investigator is free to create a context of a kind for otherwise TEXTS of useful kind cannot be obtained. Having created the necessary context in which the subjects produce, he should then withdraw himself from it, be ABSENT, be NOTHING subsequent to that so that subjects are FREE to respond in a manner they see fit. The responding here is actually that EXPRESSING themselves so that what a person is himself gets a textual form. In Hermeneutic Sciences, we do not obtain data on the basis of experimentation which are always manipulations of the subjects to test whether a particular hypothesis the experimenter has in mind, holds or not.
The focus on analyzing expressions as such also means there are no INSTRUMENTS in the hermeneutic sciences and hence concerns as to whether a particular instrument is reliable or not, REALIABILTY being here something measurable. It is understood that MAN IS NOT THE MEASURE of everything and hence acknowledging the possibility of TRUTHS outside and above instrumental interventions. In Hermeneutic Sciences we investigate only TEXTS and they are RELIABLE only when they are obtained as spontaneous productions of the subjects, expressions emerging out of the subjects themselves and from within without being subjected to any manipulations. The personality of the investigator must not be present either directly or indirectly in a manner that would affect the productive or expressive processes.
Having clarified the notion of RELIABILITY thus we have now to attend to the important notion of VALIDITY. Certainly the TEXT in relation to the way it is obtained is irrelevant to the notion of validity. For validity pertains to JUDGEMENT and hence to the notion of TRUTH. However the attitude of standing detached in the analysis of TEXTS is also relevant here for it is within this attitude that TRUTHS can be sighted.
Now every TEXT, because it points to something beyond and above itself, has a DUAL STRUCTURE, the Surface Structure (S.S) and Deep Structure (D.S ) A preunderstanding of a text enables only a partial understanding of it. It simultaneously points to a subjective condition of being IGNORANT on the part of the investigator pertaining to the meaning of the text as a whole. In other words while we have only a partial understanding of a text, there is no translucency but rather an opacity in the relationship between the investigator and the text. The subjectivity of the investigator is EXPOSED as ignorant and hence necessitating the exercise of interpretive maneuvers to destroy it. When a person notes certain features of the S.S and remains ignorant as to being as such, he seeks to locate some elements in the D.S that are causally related to them. Since the causal presence comes along with simultaneity, the causation is not physical but rather AGENTIVE. The D.S elements agentively determine the observable features of the S.S. and when a person successfully locates these agentive causes, he UNDERSTANDS the text. Such an understanding when gets articulated generates a text about a text for which reason we call it a METATEXT ( The Tamil linguists call it ceyyuL) Since there is the possibility of making mistakes , of being in error and so forth in this task, the question of the VALIDITY and the TRUTH of such claims emerge here. The interpretations here are in fact ontopretations, a going beyond the surface features and reaching the deep structure elements that in fact constitute them. The gaze goes beyond the surface and reaches the hidden, the concealed but which are in the texts themselves, in situ.
And a person can be in error and misunderstand the text and generate an invalid metatext, when he remains prejudiced in his ontopretations. When a person has not detached himself from the text, be NOTHING in relation to the text he is likely to inject his own ideas into the text and hence fail to see what is really there as the real agentive causes. However when he succeeds in being nothing, i.e. maintains genuine objectivity, he can SEE WHAT IS REALLY THERE, and avoid errors and misinterpretations. Because he sees what are there, he sees TRUTH, and hence something others can also AGREE WITH. When the seeing is not prejudiced, it ceases to idiosyncratic subjective fancies and imaginations.
The seeing of TRUTH as such also breeds a subjective certainty, apodictic in nature. There is an illumination, a clarity, a state of being beyond doubts and uncertainties. The initial ignorance the text disclosed as being there in the understanding of the person is no more and it is precisely this disappearance of the doubt and it ceasing to recur that breeds the subjective certitude apodictic certainty.
Now it should also be pointed out that Hermeneutic Science as such is in fact METAPHYSICAL for it focuses upon going beyond the given into the Depths, the world that remains concealed, covered up. Metaphysics is given a scientific form in the development of hermeneutic sciences. And when the whole of EXISTENCE is taken as a text that needs to understood, then we have philosophy as a species of Hermeneutic Science and with it the elevation of philosophy as a field of rigorous science. It is within such investigations that we can encounter Metaphysica Universalis, the most fundamental understanding of existence that enables us to lead the authentic life.
More details are available in the introduction to: Metaphysica Universalis of Meykandar, a text also available in this Home Page (See Archive of Classical Saiva Texts)