Hermeneutic Inquiry Using Gadamer’s Approach in Nursing

Historical perspective

The process of human understanding and interpretation referred to as hermeneutics has historically been a subject of interest to many philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato; notably, this branch of philosophy is most attributed to German philosophers. The word hermeneutics has its origin from Greek where it is derived from the word Hermes that referred to a Greek god who was thought to have the powers and ability to transform the unknown to known.

It is from this ancient description of the Greek god Hermes that the philosophy of hermeneutics owes its origin (Walsh, 1996). As early as the 17th century, Friedrich Schleiermacher, a philosopher of German origin was already working on two influential theories, criticisms of protestant orthodoxy and enlightenment that would later be the foundational of hermeneutic philosophy (Ebeling, 1974).

These early theories gave rise to “Allgemeine Hermeneutik” which is the cradle of philosophical hermeneutics which attained form through Schleiermacher’s famous statement “What every child does in construing a new word it does not know-is hermeneutics” (Ebeling, 1974). The idea that Schleiermacher envisioned at the time was a general hermeneutic approach that could be applied in all fields regardless of the discipline.

It is this early work by Schleiermacher that would later come to be the foundational basis for the modern-day hermeneutic inquiry by Hans-Georg Gadamer. Later on, Wilhelm Dilthey who was at one time a professor of Philosophy in Berlin refined further the concept of hermeneutic as originally advanced by Schleiermacher while working on the field of Roman hermeneutics.

From an early point, Dilthey had set out to investigate the ideology of hermeneutics and was particularly interested in understanding historical evidence, scientific methodology and the status of history in the context of a scientific approach (Ebeling, 1974). The curiosity of Dilthey in this field meant that he found himself more engaged with Schleiermacher’s early ideas on hermeneutic which were probably the only ones on philosophical hermeneutics at the time.

At this point, Dilthey redefined the definition of hermeneutics as a process that involves “historically embedded interpreters” in clear reference to the important role that experience which he referred to as “history” played in the process of human understanding (De Mul, 2004).

According to Dilthey, the process of hermeneutic inquiry involved three important concepts; understanding, interpretation and personal experience which he defines as social-historical and individual psychology. This is what Dithey refers to as the “hermeneutic circle” and the major foundation of Martin Heideggers early works on the subject of hermeneutics which ultimately informed Gadamer’s renowned hermeneutic theories on his book Truth and Method which is the focus of this paper (De Mul, 2004). Thus the purpose of this paper is to discuss Gadamer’s concept of hermeneutic inquiry in general and in context to the nursing profession by analyzing its relevance to modern-day research practices.

Husserl Phenomenology

To fully grasp the concept of hermeneutic inquiry as specifically advanced by Gadamer, it is necessary to review early philosophical ideas that contributed significantly to shaping the current epistemology on hermeneutic inquiry described in Gadamer’s work.

One such major philosophical figure who is credited for Gadamer’s approach to hermeneutic inquiry is Husserl’s concept of phenomenology from where Heidegger’s ideas on hermeneutic can be traced. The relevance of Heidegger’s hermeneutic ideas is significant since it is from his work that Gadamer’s ideology on hermeneutic inquiry is based. The concept of Husserl’s phenomenology is based on the premise that “necessary truth are not reducible to our psychology”, thereby laying the basis on which he sets out to develop what he refers to as “method for grounding necessary truth”; this is also the basis from which hermeneutic inquiry is also grounded (Quina, 2010).

Because Husserl describes phenomenology as a systematic approach to understanding “essential structures of consciousness”, hermeneutic inquiry is described as both a philosophical and methodological process that requires a detached observer to “bracket out” and focuses only on relevant issues in order to arrive at the truth (Walsh, 1996). As we shall see later in this paper, this position that Husserl was advancing at this time is very much different from what Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry eventually assumed as far as objectivity is concerned.

Nevertheless, the relevance of Husserl phenomenology in contemporary nursing research is visible since it is from this concept that a systematic research method that contains the elements of “Husserlian rigour” has been developed. Husserlian rigor can generally be described as the methodical approach of investigation that is most essential to arrive at “truth that is not grounded to this or that time or culture but was true for all time” (Walsh, 1996).

This approach, which is often referred to as “phenomenological techniques”, is what now defines the process of research in nursing, a fact that we shall investigate more fully later. But first let us briefly discuss how Husserl Phenomenology principles shaped Heidegger’s take and construct of hermeneutic inquiry from where Gadamer took over and refined it, and also outline the major points of divergence.

Heidegger’s Phenomenology

It is Heidegger who is credited for channeling a new course in the development of philosophical hermeneutics. Unlike the earlier focus that the study of hermeneutics had taken, Heidegger agitated for a new interest in the study of hermeneutics that focused largely on existential understanding rather than objective interpretation per se (Smith, 2007). It is out of this point of view that human experience became integrated into the process of study of phenomena.

Heidegger’s form of hermeneutic inquiry strived to investigate the process of understanding by taking it a notch higher and thereby considering the broader context under which understanding must be based which must include the experiences of the author. It is therefore in his renowned work, “Being and Time” that Heidegger tackles the essence of “being” which is the ultimate question that he strives to redefine in the context of experience which he asserts is always “grounded in care” (Young, 1997). These two; being, which he rightly describes as “Dasein” and experience are the concepts that Heidegger tackles comprehensively in order to explore and establish a common ground from which both of these notions can be understood and analyzed (Young, 1997).

And indeed this he does; Heidegger’s concern with investigation and definition of emanating from what he perceives as the missing link to the chain of understanding because of the historical omission of the need to understand the “being” whom he considers to be central to this process of understanding.

It is out of this analysis that Heidegger conceptualizes and elaborates on the “hermeneutic circle” that was first described by Dilthey that he conceives as the reciprocity that takes place between what is written (text) and the being (context) (Young, 1997). In a nutshell what Heidegger attempts to address through the fusion of these two concepts is a form of understanding that is more profound than what had earlier been advanced by previous hermeneutic phenomenology.

This is because Heidegger starts by faulting the current hermeneutic inquiry methodology as an approach that is limited because it omitted the author’s experiences and therefore the cultural context under which the text was penned. Having discussed the background to the subject of hermeneutic inquiry in general let us now undertake an in-depth analysis of Gadamer’s take on the subject.

Gadamer Hermeneutic Approach Overview

Gadamer’s elaboration of hermeneutic inquiry is well documented in his book Truth and Method which is regarded as one of his best works in which he explores in great detail the true nature of human understanding. At this point it is important to take note that Gadamer did not set out to prescribe a single methodology upon which to base all forms of research process, rather he intended to provide insight on how human understanding took place in the context of other factors and thereby agitate for such a research methodology. Thus, from this perspective, Gadamer’s work on hermeneutic inquiry mirrors other philosophers that contributed to the field, some of whom we have so far discussed, and also differs to an extent from some of their concepts, notably that of Husserlian.

In Truth and Method what Gadamer does is build on Heidegger’s concepts of experience and being which he takes a step further to state that language and tradition are central to the process of hermeneutic understanding. This position is best summarized by the following statement that sets out the thesis of Truth and Method.

“It is through language that the world is opened up for us. We learn to know the world by learning to master a language. Hence we cannot really understand ourselves unless we understand ourselves as situated in a linguistically mediated, historical culture” (Malpas, 2009).

It is for this reason that Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is viewed as very relevant to the discipline of nursing and research because it provides a framework upon which nurses must strive to construct the methodologies of research as well as analysis of such findings. In fact what Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry posits is that nurses must and should apply their experiences which include their traditions, language among other experiences to make sense of research findings or indeed to undertake such a research initiative (Malpas, 2009).

Key Philosophical Constructs

Hermeneutic Circle

The hermeneutic circle is one of the four major themes that Gadamer develops in his book Truth and Method; it refers to the intricate process of understanding that attempts to explain the very essence of the process of understanding. Hermeneutic circle as described by Gadamer as the process of understanding that is ever constantly shifting between “parts and the whole” of the subject matter (Heidi, 2009). It is from this repetitive nature of this process that makes it to be referred as a “circle”.

Because the hermeneutic circle is basically a never-ending epistemological process an important element that links this process is the concept of pre-understanding that Gadamer recognizes as essential to our insight (Debasay, Naden and Sletteb, 2008). This is because prejudice is the lens through which any person must base any form of deductions and indeed all forms of understanding given that our pre-understanding is based on our past experience.

This stream of thought takes us squarely to the concept of what Gadamer describes as “fusion of horizon”; this is our next philosophical construct that we are going to discuss. But just to mention, because our prejudices are never the same so is the fusion of horizon, more importantly, “temporal distance” enables us to influence our pre-understanding and thereby omit what we presume to be undesirable prejudices for that particular understanding (Debasay et al, 2008). This is what Gadamer is referring to when he asserts that “prejudices that lead to misunderstanding are filtered out through the interplay of the whole and the parts in the hermeneutic circle” not so much that we can truly understand, but rather “that ‘we understand in a different way, if we understand at all” (Gadamer, 2004).

Thus, Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry takes the concept of the hermeneutic circle to a new level that embraces “beings” and “forms” which enable a relationship to be established between “the whole to the part and the part to the whole” for purposes of achieving the unbiased perception of what we deem to be unclear (Debasay, et al, 2008). This is by far the most important theme that Gadamer developed in Truth and Method which has far-reaching implications in the profession of nursing because it provides the framework on which research methodologies can be constructed.

The Fusion of Horizon

Gadamer describes the fusion of horizon as the point at which the element of pre-understanding, which in this case refers to experiences, meets with present circumstances. What makes up this personal experience are factors such as cultural, linguistic and historical perceptions that we rely on as the basis of our understanding (Philips, 2007). Gadamer’s fusion of horizon is more fitting as a metaphor in hermeneutic inquiry when you consider the process of understanding which is what he hopes to achieve through its definition.

According to Gadamer, human understanding is to a large extent a function of our historical understanding, what would be the experience, but the experience is not static since it changes with human development (Phillips, 2007). Thus, human understanding is also a dynamic process since at any given time our experiences are different which is incidentally very similar to the nature of horizons when viewed from various perspectives.

The fusion of horizon occurs because most often the process of understanding does not occur in singularity, but rather through assimilation of other people’s ideas, text and so on which forms part of their horizon. It is this process of personal exchange of experiences and understanding that leads to fusion of different horizons, which Gadamer states should ideally occur when each person is rooted in their horizon of understanding rather than outside it like what Husserlian was advocating for in his phenomenology by describing the need for “bracketing-out”.

Dialogue

Gadamer’s interest and exploration of the aspect of dialogue in hermeneutic inquiry are because of its importance which is necessary for the attainment of insight that leads to understanding. Gadamer rightly states that no learning can occur, and by extension any understanding without the element of dialogue which constitutes the question-answer discourse for reasons that we shall see. From an early point Gadamer had noted that dialogue was the medium that facilitated the process of understanding since it was the basis on which all forms of ideas are exchanged (Binding and Tapp, 2008). Indeed it is through dialogue that the exchange of question and answer takes place among subjects in exploration and pursuit of understanding.

However, the concept of dialogue that Gadamer advances is far more expansive than the basics of dialogue per se that we are so aware of and which we encounter in our daily lives. This is because the dialogue in hermeneutic inquiry is a process that serves two important functions of promoting understanding of the subject matter and at the same time increasing participants’ perceptions of themselves (Healy, 1996).

These two objectives attained through Gadamer’s ideas of self-application and conversations in dialogue are considered to be central to an understanding of hermeneutic inquiry from a general point of view. At this point if we are to pause and reflect on this knowledge we get to realize that no form of research can indeed be instituted in ignorance of what Gadamer describes as “our awareness of differentness” (Phillips, 2007). This is because without this awareness no inquisition can be made, no dialogue, no knowledge, no understanding and no need for hermeneutic inquiry theory anyway.

It would then appear that not knowing and knowing that we need to know is an important inference derived from Gadamer’s concept of dialogue which should be a prevailing attitude for nurses that seeks to arrive at relevant truths in the field of nursing and which should shape all forms of their research.

Central Issues in Hermeneutic Inquiry: Rigour and Representation

Rigour in research refers to efforts that are geared towards standardization of research findings and their analysis, as we shall find out shortly achieving rigor based on Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry theory is a very challenging task. This is because of the nature of hermeneutic inquiry which Gadamer outlines, a factor that is further compounded by the fact that hermeneutic inquiry research is primarily subjective (Avis, 1995).

This phenomenon of Gadamer hermeneutic inquiry implies that any form of understanding is neither universal nor replicable so to speak. In qualitative research which is the branch of research that is applicable to nurses, the challenges of achieving rigor are historical; Koch and Harrington state that “rigour, legitimation and representation issues continue to challenge new researchers as they shift from this conventional paradigm to alternative paradigms” (2002).

But because rigor is a necessary element in establishment of validity and reliability and thus representation, it is always constantly explored by Gadamearn researchers as a necessity of achieving research legitimacy. Despite this, rigor and representation in context of Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is a broader subject that is not limited to issues of objectivity. Rigour in research encompasses issues of audibility, credibility, confirmability and systematic investigation which are universal to all forms of qualitative research (Koch, 1995).

Koch states that rigor which incorporates issues of “trustworthiness may be established when the reader is able to audit the events, influences and actions of the researcher” (Koch, 1995). To achieve this Koch advocates maintenance of detailed journal entries that are accurately recorded and detailed to enable a reader to obtain what is referred to as “transferability”, which is the degree of similarity between information presented in two different contexts (Koch, 1995).

To understand why issues of legitimation and representation are central issues of concern for all forms of research that are oriented towards Gadarmer hermeneutic inquiry, one would need to understand the research methodology that Gadamer is advocating. The issue of representation is challenging for any form of subjective interpretation of qualitative research where participants’ views and positions can easily be overridden by the researcher’s prejudice.

This is a major challenge that Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is trying to address through the meticulous data collection approaches, recording and interpretation plan that Gadamer advocates. Because hermeneutic inquiry does not require researcher objectivity during interpretation of the results, the only approach of attaining representation according to Gadamer is through a conscious participation of the researcher in hermeneutic circle where the researcher self-awareness on fusion of horizon is heightened (Koch, 1995).

The Tenets of Pre-understanding and Notion of Subject-Object

“To speak of objectively valid interpretations is naive, since to do so, assumes that it is possible to understand some standpoint outside of history”; it is from this premise that Gadamer positions his notion that categorically rejects subject-object orientation of human understanding (Pascoe, 1996). But we already know this to be true based on our general analysis of Gadamer’s hermeneutic theories. This rejection of the subject-object viewpoint is a concept inherent to Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry because of the philosophical constructs that he develops which asserts that subjectivity is a necessary perspective to all forms of understanding.

The notion of subject-object is best captured by the ideology of cultural relativism which has its roots in Marxism and holds that “individuals are defined by the rites, beliefs and traditions of the community to which they belong” (Young, 1997). This is what Gadamer concludes in the discussion of subject-object as impossible to “bracket out” or factor out when engaged in any process of investigation for purposes of understanding as Husserlian was advocating.

On pre-understanding, Gadamer states that human experience is necessary for an informed insight and understanding of a phenomenon. This is perhaps one of the major implications of Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry because it is from this concept of “pre-understanding” that one of his central themes is developed. Thus Gadamer, like his predecessor and mentor Heidegger concurs that “we understand based on ways of understanding that we already have” primarily because there does not exist any sort of “presuppositionless understanding or interpretation” of anything (Palmer, 2001).

This premise that Gadamer outlines are very much similar to David Hume’s self ideology in which he states that all knowledge that is gained through the mind is entirely a result of experience (Bastick, 2005). The idea of self according to Hume is described as “bundle or collection of different perceptions” (Bastick 2005).

What Hume means by this assertion is that two critical aspects are required in observation of objects by a person that involves perception, which is attained by the senses and previous experience which the brain uses to complete the complex pieces of the object.

The similarity between Hume’s self-ideology which he refers to as experience is very striking to Gadamer’s notion of pre-understanding, which he interchangeably refers to as prejudice and at times as historical experience. However, this similarity is not really a coincidence since a deeper investigation will reveal that both Gadamer and Hume subscribe to a school of thought referred to as empiricism. This observation that Hume described concerning the mind provided the first groundwork for empiricism which is the branch of science that is concerned with the study of how the mind learns through experience (Murphy 2005.).

Relevance of Gadamer Hermeneutic Inquiry

A research article by Palmer articulately summarizes eight major reasons why Gadamer’s hermeneutical inquiry is most relevant to the process of understanding and in particular to the nursing profession. Indeed, what Gadamer posits in hermeneutic inquiry has far-reaching implications more than any hermeneutic concepts previously advanced by some of his mentors who laid the first foundations for this branch of philosophy.

Foremost, because hermeneutic inquiry is based on the concept of human understanding, Gadamer’s principles are universal in that they seek to explore common truth that should guide this essential necessity of human existence that is an ever ongoing process (Palmer, 2001). But by its very essence hermeneutic inquiry is two-fold; investigation on details of understanding per se and interpretation of text. As such the philosophical ideas developed in these two realms are what enable nurses for instance to get insight from written text through recreating originally intended meaning to achieve desirable understanding (Geanellos, 1998).

On the other hand, hermeneutic philosophy has been well utilized by nurses to construct research methodologies that factor in the constraints and limitations of understanding from various contexts. Currently because of hermeneutic inquiry nurses can conceptualize and address issues such as structures, pre-understanding and develop various frameworks of interpretations (Geanellos, 1998).

In research methodology in the field of nursing Gadamer ideas on dialogue also have profound implications especially on what Gadamer describes as genuine conversations; from this Gadamer asserts “it is in the nature of a genuine question to open up possibilities” about the third level of genuine conversation which is certainly more insightful than the others two levels (Binding and Tapp, 2008).

This third level of genuine conversation should be the ultimate level that any researcher in the nursing profession should strive to communicate for quality interpretations and results which are attained through a new fusion of horizon (Binding and Tapp, 2008). On the same footing is application of what Gadamer refers to as “hermeneutic writing” which is a conversation that he presupposes to occur between written text and a person (Binding and Tapp, 2008). This interaction and the resulting understanding occur in the same way that genuine conversation takes place between people.

Finally, Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is also the root of a phenomenon that nurses know as “pre-understanding” which Gadamer relies on to develop the hermeneutic inquiry. The notion of pre-understanding is what has given rise to the concept of self-understanding whose implications require nursing researchers to be thoroughly aware of their perceptions and experience in the process of conducting research (Binding and Tapp, 2008). This is also one of the major areas of similarities between Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry and Heidegger’s. Finally, Gadamer raises two other major points that have great relevance to the focus of this paper, that of the ubiquity of history, which is the foundational basis of fusion of horizon and the importance of linguistic, “Sprachlich” in the process of understanding.

Philosophical Perspectives: Ontological, Epistemological and Methodological

Gadamer’s process of hermeneutic inquiry can be described as philosophical hermeneutics because it is not a methodology per se, but rather a framework of developing such a method which is a point that he elaborates at a very early point in his book. This is our first indication that Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is probably an ontology having established from his own words that this is certainly not a methodology.

The reason that Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is described as ontology is because of its relativist orientation which also includes an element of historicity (Annells, 1996). The relativist approach is a perspective that attributes the process and level of understanding of phenomena to the person experiencing the perception. Thus reality in this case is a factor of what Annells is referring to as “multiple mental constructions” that are being experienced by the person (Annells, 1996). This observation is similar to the foundational principles advanced by Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry given that personal understanding is often linked to the nature of the experience of a person which is always unique for all persons (Annells, 1996).

It is this observation that leads to definition of ontology by Palmer as a “description of being-process of our understanding”; thus, Gadamer positions hermeneutic inquiry as to the ontology that informs our reality to arrive at an envisioned understanding (Maggs-Rapport, 2001). From this description of ontology, Gadamer develops another concept which he calls “existential ontology” to define a heightened level of understanding referred to as self-understanding, this is where the epistemology element of hermeneutic inquiry comes in (Palmer, 1999).

Epistemology perspective is a very similar notion to ontology which is very evident in Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry. This is because the understanding that Gadamer is advancing in his theory is subjective rather than the kind of understanding that is objective as originally postulated by Heissler in his phenomenology. Thus, the epistemology perspective of Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is seen to be by design which is best illustrated by his concept of knowing which he terms as “mode of being” to emphasize the subjective nature of this type of understanding (Annells, 1996).

Finally, methodology is concerned with exploring ways that should guide the process of understanding reality. Even though Gadamer is categorical on the fact that he never intended to formulate a general framework of guiding the process of understanding, it is not lost to students of Gadamer that such a model can be developed based entirely on his hermeneutic inquiry.

One such methodology that has been developed from Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry is Porter’s method of data collection which is very similar to what Fleming et al developed from Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry.

Analysis & Critique of Research Methods Developed by Fleming et al

There are two contentious issues that Fleming et al set out to address in his paper “Developing Gadamean Based Research Methods” which he hopes to be the foundational and basis upon which he advances his model of research methods (Fleming, Gaidys and Robb, 2002). One, Fleming et al set out to investigate whether the original intention of various hermeneutic philosophers, notably Gadamer could have been eroded through the translation of their work from Dutch language to English.

And two, to determine to what extent current research in the field of nursing has uniformly assumed phenomenology and hermeneutic to be similar and therefore applied them as such to their detriment.

In this paper what Fleming et al set out to undertake is to apply the concepts advanced by Gadamer in his hermeneutic inquiry theory and thereby develop a single methodology that can be relied on by nurses “for investigating some topics in nursing” (Fleming et al, 2002).

By so doing Fleming et al are aware of the limitations of their methodology, a fact that makes them acknowledge that this is by far not a general methodology to be applied in every form of research in nursing, but rather a methodology that should be applied wherever it is most applicable. We can recall from our earlier discussion that Husserl’s idea of understanding was pinned on the need of a person to be objective by “bracketing out” what Gadamer would refer to as prejudice in order to arrive at a reliable understanding (LeVasseur, 2003). This is in stark contrast to Gadamer’s theory and indeed that of Heidegger as well; it is these ideas of phenomenology that Fleming retraces in order to contrast with the concept of hermeneutics which he claims are often confused.

Once Fleming et al finish discussing the major point of difference between Husserl’s phenomenology and philosophical hermeneutics, the theme of the paper starts to become clear. At this point one would ask, if Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry strives to significantly emphasize the importance of pre-understanding for researchers, why is it then that much effort and procedures have been put in place by nursing researchers to address biases to eliminate them?

From this perspective, one would concur that Fleming et al need to investigate this challenge is indeed justified and any model of research methodology in nursing is probably long overdue. In fact Fleming et al explore some of the research methodologies that have already been advanced by various researchers; from Kosh, Van Manen to Diekelmann, in each them he pokes holes in their construction of research methods while using Gadamer hermeneutic inquiry as to his benchmark.

My opinion is that Fleming, et al analysis and critique of these research methods are certainly right on point. Later on Fleming et al delves into the heart of the matter by discussing the five steps of a research method model; deciding a research question, awareness of pre-understanding, achievement of understanding through dialogue with research participants and then with text, and finally establishment of trustworthiness (Fleming et al, 2002).

Questions in research is an idea that is rooted in Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry, in what is best conceptualized by his idea of the hermeneutic circle where interchange of ideas through a medium of dialogue facilitates the process of understanding. In this research methodology Fleming et al advocate for the identification of pre-understanding to be spelled out and written by the researcher in order for research analysis to be undertaken from this context. What Fleming et al fail to appreciate is that the notion of pre-understanding is constantly changing because it is a factor of time, besides most often elements of pre-understanding are not discernible, least of all to the person from whom they emanate which would make the process of having them recorded extremely challenging if not impossible.

On the need to have a dialogue with participants and text, Fleming et al ideas are right on point again and object to any efforts by the researcher to step out of their pre-understanding in order to adopt different points of view. This is by Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry which we know cannot lead to understanding because no fusion of horizon can take place under such a scenario. Finally, Fleming et al advocate a process of establishing trust in research which can best be achieved through honest representation of each step of research analysis. The credibility of the research would also require a researcher to document as much as possible verifiable data captured from respondents. In fact, Fleming appreciates the importance of establishing rigor in any research methodology based on Gadamer because of the controversial nature of the research process itself.

However the futility of this undertaking is clearly discernible because objectivity is a term that does not exist in Gadamer’s hermeneutic inquiry; this is what Gadamer is referring to when he states that “there is no universally true statement, because no statement can escape the complexities of interpretation” (Gadmer, 2004). This statement summarizes the difficulty of achieving what Fleming et al describe as the process of achieving “objectivity in hermeneutic inquiry” (Fleming et al, 2002).

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