Episetemology vs hermeneutics

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Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 11:18 am
As a psychiatrist, we are frequent engaged in helping patients to confront their cognitive distortions, including those concerning themselves, others, and the world at large. The notion is that a person's past predisposes them to thinking in a certain, often distorted way about the present. In the parlance of psychoanalysis, this would typically be referred to as "transference". A cognitive-behavior therapist might refer to these distortions "automatic thoughts", or "core beliefs." Inherent in all of this is the assumption that some thoughts we have about ourselves, etc. are more true than others. Is the pursuit of such truths more an issue of epistemology or of hermeneutics? I'm pretty much a novice philosopher so please frame your replies for level of ignorance. Thanks. Fred.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 11:48 am
@Frederick phil,
Frederick wrote:
As a psychiatrist, we are frequent engaged in helping patients to confront their cognitive distortions, including those concerning themselves, others, and the world at large. The notion is that a person's past predisposes them to thinking in a certain, often distorted way about the present. In the parlance of psychoanalysis, this would typically be referred to as "transference". A cognitive-behavior therapist might refer to these distortions "automatic thoughts", or "core beliefs." Inherent in all of this is the assumption that some thoughts we have about ourselves, etc. are more true than others. Is the pursuit of such truths more an issue of epistemology or of hermeneutics? I'm pretty much a novice philosopher so please frame your replies for level of ignorance. Thanks. Fred.


Frederick,

It is all interpretation isn't it, I am not sure what you are asking, is it simply the means of speculation?
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 11:58 am
@Frederick phil,
I think it depends on what you are evaluating. If you are trying to evaluate the essence of every persons 'core beliefs' or cognitive behavior that results in knowledge or how these have an effect on knowledge, then I think you are in the field of epistemology. However, once you start evaluating what makes a single person predisposed to certain beliefs (perhaps by past experiences), then you are talking about interpretation (or hermeneutics, if I am using the word correctly).

Quote:

Inherent in all of this is the assumption that some thoughts we have about ourselves, etc. are more true than others.


It seems to me that we are an egotistical being by nature. Our lives start off revolving around us, and this is a hard predisposition to escape. I assume there is a certain point in most peoples lives that the world stop revolving around them, and they inevitably embark on an existential journey that leads to the realization that there are two worlds out there, the world of me and the world of everything else. There are certain things that are more true to me than most anything that I experience, and those are my emotions: love, hate, happiness, sadness, despair, joy, etc. The mysterious thing about emotions is that one can never fully express what they are or what they feel like. We can only represent them with common words and expressions that fall short of bringing to light the true nature of what a particular emotion means to each individual person in a particular instance.

My rambling boils down to this, there are certain things that are more true than others, but we must not confuse what those things are. Once we move outside the way we feel (whether it accurately depicts the actual world or not) we must be careful not to impose those feelings on the empirical data we receive (which seems impossible at times).

I probably don't answer your question, but I tried.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 01:46 pm
@Frederick phil,
Frederick wrote:
Inherent in all of this is the assumption that some thoughts we have about ourselves, etc. are more true than others. Is the pursuit of such truths more an issue of epistemology or of hermeneutics? I'm pretty much a novice philosopher so please frame your replies for level of ignorance. Thanks. Fred.



I don't see how my thought that I am married can be either more true or less true than my thought that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. I did not know that there were degrees of truth.
 
Frederick phil
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 02:00 pm
@kennethamy,
I wonder if some examples would help to clarify my question. Let's say that someone is distressed and also behaving maladaptively in accordance with the thought that they are essentially unlovable. That they are unable to form meaningful attachments because there is something essentially flawed about them.
On the one hand, there is the issue of evidence. Do most people reject you? Have you been formally tested for "unlovability"? I think this would be within the realm of epistemology.
On the otherhand, there is the issue of the coherence of their life story. How coherent is their life narrative with their being "unlovable" versus one that is more complete and meaningful? I assume that this would be subject to the rules of hermeneutics.
Does that help? Fred.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 02:06 pm
@Frederick phil,
Quote:
On the one hand, there is the issue of evidence. Do most people reject you? Have you been formally tested for "unlovability"? I think this would be within the realm of epistemology.


If I may play Socrates, why do you think this is in the realm of epistemology?

(Playing Socrates is much like playing the Devil's Advocate, but I think I just made it up)
 
Frederick phil
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 04:03 pm
@de Silentio,
Fair question. When one supplies a patient with an interpretation of synthesizing observation, it's not unusual to be met with "how do you know?" It begs the question about how any of us "know" the observations we make about our own characters to be true or accurate. There is data and reasoning behind our conclusions. Perhaps to some extent these conclusions are self-serving: they make us feel better about ourselves. On the otherhand, having a totally heuristic but inaccurate view of ourselves would likely lead to many situations of mis-fit and misery.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 05:00 pm
@Frederick phil,
Frederick wrote:
Fair question. When one supplies a patient with an interpretation of synthesizing observation, it's not unusual to be met with "how do you know?" It begs the question about how any of us "know" the observations we make about our own characters to be true or accurate. There is data and reasoning behind our conclusions. Perhaps to some extent these conclusions are self-serving: they make us feel better about ourselves. On the otherhand, having a totally heuristic but inaccurate view of ourselves would likely lead to many situations of mis-fit and misery.


Frederick,Smile

SmileI believe all cognitive therapy operates in a way to enable the subject to recognize their own difficulties. Could it be as simple as that which is believed whether positive or negative has a power over us. The most problematic of these beliefs are irrational beliefs. The subject that can come to terms with their irrational beliefs and recognize their folly is on his way you might say. I believe the thearapist recognizes these troublesome beliefs in the language of the subject. language reveals more of the Psyche than most of us realize, and worked, can be I think a means of salvation [ not of a religious nature].
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 05:07 pm
@Frederick phil,
I'm pretty sure that just witnessing the changes in back editions of the DSM-(X) defining what a psychological malady is, and symptoms for them will place most anything in psychology directly in the realm of hermeneutics.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 05:23 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
I'm pretty sure that just witnessing the changes in back editions of the DSM-(X) defining what a psychological malady is, and symptoms for them will place most anything in psychology directly in the realm of hermeneutics.


GoshisDead,

Is this dialogue limited to the organically well individuals? I think there is a vast difference between the organically ill and those whom are ill of their own beliefs. It is true some physical illnesses trigger psychological problems, but these are two different catagories, irrationality is the main problem, but, is it cognitive, or again, of an organic nature. If there is a science of interpretation, surely these two catagories are first to arise. Am I on topic here guys, is it the science of interpretation that is to be discussed here?
 
Frederick phil
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 08:37 pm
@boagie,
Criticisms of DSM are certainly fair game. However, my original question had less to do with formal psychiatry as it did with truths we hold about our selves or others, distinct from what we know about the physical world. I think we are all engaged in trying to figure out ourselves and others.
Maybe philosophical inquiry about ourselves is of value, simply because it taps into an observing side. A current rage in mental health is mindfulness. I'm sure that I'm grossly oversimplifying this very complex endeavor by describing it as a non-hysterical way of living: paying attention to the here and now in a fully appreciative, non-judgmental way. Similarly, a philosophical inquiry into ourselves or other, whether of a classic epistemological bent or hermeneutical bent offers another analytic and non-judgmental approach. Does this make any sense?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 09:17 pm
@Frederick phil,
Quote:
Criticisms of DSM are certainly fair game.

My aim was not a jab at formal psychology, I don't know enough to be that critical. I was simply attempting to show that the interpretation of "normal" behavior change over time as the they shed and pick up different cultural baggage. Some things that were normal in the DSM decades ago are considered mental illnesses now and some things that were illnesses are now normal.

Quote:
with truths we hold about our selves or others, distinct from what we know about the physical world.

The verbiage used in your posts just suggest to me that you aren't on an epistemological quest. It seems you have a structured set of axiomatic beliefs about the world, humanity, and the self. An epistemological quest, in my opinion, would be asking about the ability to prove things as "true". what it seems the pivot around which the discussion is revolving is how to reconcile our presuppositions with abnormal (and yes i realize its a semantically charged word) behavior.

Now that i wrote that i realized that I'm probably just restating your original post.

An Aside: It seems that the soft sciences are leaning towards more traditionally and in some case more mystical means of therapy/research/description.
As the following quote is remarkably similar to key points of many popular and traditional meditative disciplines
Quote:
A current rage in mental health is mindfulness. I'm sure that I'm grossly oversimplifying this very complex endeavor by describing it as a non-hysterical way of living: paying attention to the here and now in a fully appreciative, non-judgmental way.


Quote:
Similarly, a philosophical inquiry into ourselves or other, whether of a classic epistemological bent or hermeneutical bent offers another analytic and non-judgmental approach. Does this make any sense?

As far as introspective epistemology, I'm not sure that is possible in a positive sense, being that epistemology's most notorious bugaboo is the fallibility of the senses, and a person's perception.
 
Frederick phil
 
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2008 07:48 am
@GoshisDead,
I was simply attempting to show that the interpretation of "normal" behavior change over time as the they shed and pick up different cultural baggage.

My question has little to do with "normal" behavior, however one might choose to define that. That might, however, be an important distinction between an epistemological vs. hermeneutic approach to understanding--gaining knowledge--striving for truths about ourselves and others.


The verbiage used in your posts just suggest to me that you aren't on an epistemological quest. It seems you have a structured set of axiomatic beliefs about the world, humanity, and the self.

Not really. Actually, I think the sidetrack to DSM, normal, etc. were added by you. Not sure where you came up with that conclusion but would be interested in knowing your reasoning for such.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2008 07:55 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I don't see how my thought that I am married can be either more true or less true than my thought that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. I did not know that there were degrees of truth.


It's not degrees of truth, it's degrees of certainty. Can you see how the immediate emotion of love that you feel for you wife or the feeling of sadness that overcomes you upon hearing of her death might be more certain than that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2008 03:33 pm
@Frederick phil,
good points both of you
 
Frederick phil
 
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2008 08:37 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio;11483 wrote:
It's not degrees of truth, it's degrees of certainty. Can you see how the immediate emotion of love that you feel for you wife or the feeling of sadness that overcomes you upon hearing of her death might be more certain than that Quito is the capital of Ecuador?


That poses an interesting point. We attach labels to our feelings, and, I think, often do so erroneously. For example, we may feel anger when, upon further reflection, we conclude that what we are really feeling is hurt. What is the process that leads us to conclude, in this instance, that what we really feel is hurt? How do we "know" that? Something must resonate within us during that period of greater reflection that leads to a more comfortable conclusion. Is this an epistemic thingie or a hermeneutic thingie, and what's the difference???

I think that this is still on track with my original question. By what process do we conclude that we "know" our internal world vs. the processes that lead us to conclude that we know the external world.?

If I'm beating a dead horse, please let me know. Thanks. :p
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 01:02 pm
@Frederick phil,
Sorry I didn't have time until now to post a decent reply
But here is the analysis of the posts that led me to believe that there is an already assumed reality, which in the realm of the interpersonal, would have to be couched in the terms of normalcy.

Quote:
engaged in helping patients to confront their cognitive distortions

If something is distorted it has strayed somehow from the norm

Quote:
a person's past predisposes them to thinking in a certain, often distorted way about the present

Causation for said distortion, given a timeline from tabula rasa (or whatever) to abnormal.

Quote:
Inherent in all of this is the assumption that some thoughts we have about ourselves, etc. are more true than others.

This comment gives a base "truth" from which our perceptions of ourselves vary.

Quote:
On the otherhand, having a totally heuristic but inaccurate view of ourselves would likely lead to many situations of mis-fit and misery.

If someone is misfitting misfitting for whatever reason this infers that they could fit. I realize that the "norm" is not universal it is group specific, however, even assuming that there are dynamic group norms that evolve show an axiomatic belief system about normalcy. Saying innacuare view of ourselfs assumes a reality that we "should" have but are unlikey to ever recognize.

Quote:
distinct from what we know about the physical world

Some how perception of the inner is less accurate than the outer world.

Anyway, These all show that you must believe in an ultimate reality of our own or other's psyches and the physical world but also believe that recognition of that ultimate reality is unattainable. Therefore this cannot be an epistemological question.





Quote:
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 02:04 pm
@GoshisDead,
First of all, I'd say that any epistemology is thoroughly grounded by an omnipresent interpretation, so any endeavors to engage in an epistemological enquiry involve interpretation - whether of language, perception or functions of the subconscious.

Second, I'd say that when investigating or trying to impose a quantification of delusion - or paranoia in general - one is trying to discover an epistemological supposition, yet in doing so one might engage in hermeneutics whilst gathering evidence. For example, perhaps the most important evidence is qualitative, accounts recounted by the subject of the investigation; so interpretation and epistemological enquiry are interlinked and work concurrently with each other - when discussing issues of a subjective nature it is an impossibility to 'truly' associate metamorphic/emotive issues of the mind with language, so by default one must interpret and suppose.

I was lucky enough to engage with psychosis (both in myself and in others), and I would say from experience that epistemology is the most important route when attempting to discern delusion from whatever the opposite of delusion is. It seems that delusions are quite defined or definite (although they often morph, leaving a trail of delusions of less import to the subject, yet still recollectable, although probably forgotten), so one can investigate the production of delusions in a fairly logical fashion, through psychology (science). One must interpret when one is dealing with qualitative data - as ever - so in conclusion I think that interpretation and epistemology are inextricable, although with enhanced language one might be able to navigate the order of the mind.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 03:48 pm
@Frederick phil,
Quite Possible, given your definition of epistemological pursuit, I happen to think eveything is interpretational as well. Although once you bring interpretation into the arena, how do you separate epistemology from hermeneutics?
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 03:54 pm
@Frederick phil,
Well a simple answer would be that once a statement or observation has been justified and defined, the need for interpretation dissapates, at least in the context of relating evidence to theory, although theories are entirely interpretable also, yet on a different level.
 
 

 
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