The Problem of Understanding - Philosophy

The problem of understanding

Understanding is not a touch, but a communicative experience. Its intersubjectivity depends on the solution of the problem of standards. If in societal knowledge there are no objective standards, like rulers, clocks, weights and other instruments used in the natural sciences, how then can we establish invariant quantities? Communicative experience is a conversation and understanding that arises between two actors, each of which is a participant in the negotiations. Communication is similar in many respects to the game where the interaction takes place. The threat of objectivity comes from two sides: on the part of the observer, whose tools imposes both questions and interpretation of answers, and on the part of the partner who avoids the networks of understanding of the interviewer-observer. Hence the dilemma arises: either I can not prove rational arguments about how to behave in society, or I behave correctly if I rely on social norms that are unprovable by facts.

The way out is that understanding can be defined as a form of social action. However, understanding is not the actions themselves, but their coordination. Sociologists are interested in understanding as much as it contributes to the cooperation of actions. But is the study of social activity justifiable in terms of understanding? Obviously, the social process is not only reduced to understanding, for its own purposes it is clearly controlled by technological and economic decisions. For example, competent decisions are made by entrepreneurs on the basis of economic norms. The law and laws of market exchange form the institutional framework for strategic actions of entrepreneurs. However, these action-oriented actions are also related to the need for understanding, so social action is simultaneously communicative. The classical model of the market does not need a separate regulation of the actions of individuals. In such an organization, the functional relationship of actions is stabilized regardless of the process of mutual understanding, but this does not mean that the mechanisms of the market are generally non-communicative. Adam Smith, objecting to the supporters of the old mechanisms of achieving unity based on Christian virtues, pointed out that the market not only disunites, but also unites people by linking them as commodity producers and buyers. It is also obvious that this unifying role of the market can be institutionalized as the norm and its understanding to use to achieve an effective society unity based on economic actions. Hence the task of combining economic and moral-historical action. If in hermeneutics understanding is given ontologically, then in sociology it must be based on the consensus of living people.

The translation of hermeneutics into the notions of sociology is faced with the problem of social interpretation of the main concept of "meaning". In the social sciences, the subject-object model is transformed taking into account the fact that the scientist studying the society himself belongs to it. This knowledge combines theoretical and pre-theoretical knowledge about society. Research practice is part of the social system: the way scientists discuss with each other, what relationships they include in the interaction within the framework of scientific institutions, what norms and patterns they share, all this does not depend on the individual. Therefore, the work of the scientist is also part of everyday practice and can be investigated by appropriate methods.

In social sciences, one can not neglect the dependence of scientific attitudes on the social life world. Is it reduced to language activity, or does it include any other ways of belonging to the reproduction of social relations? Expression be an integral part of the social world can be explained by indicating the symbols that people produce as speaking and acting beings (statements, beliefs, values, works of art, objects of material culture), as well as institutions, social systems and other stabilizing institutions.

The most fundamental signs of belonging to the social life world are speech and action, however they are not sufficient to explain why people are already in front of a structured object. It is important to take into account that this structuring is not natural, natural, but that it is itself the product of such pre-theoretical structures by which social actors produce these objects. The social researcher must in a certain way refer to the social reality he studies, because to describe, one must understand, and in order to understand, it is necessary to be a participant. Clearly, this participation ratio is not like observation and can not be controlled by the methods adopted in science, for observation is accompanied by interpretation and understanding of meaning.

Meaning understanding is a communicative experience, involving participation in the process of understanding, understanding. This process is not just a message about the social reality, but also its change. Instructions of institutions and other public institutions are subject to execution, which implies hermeneutic enlightenment of the social subject. However, how to combine the performative-hermeneutical subjective attitude of the participant in the social life world with the objective installation of his researcher? How can the same person combine both positions? A social researcher can not be in the position of an alien, with amazement looking at the life of earthlings, but nevertheless diligently describing phenomena and seeking regularity.

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