Encountering the Great Problems in the Street: Enacting Hermeneutic Philosophy as Research in Practice Disciplines


  • Graham McCaffrey University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing
  • Nancy J Moules Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary




hermeneutic research, hermeneutic philosophy, Hans-Georg Gadamer, nursing, qualitative research, applied hermeneutics ?


In this paper, we speak to tenets of Gadamerian hermeneutic philosophy that “guide” our hermeneutic inquiry in research that seeks to understand the complexity of human experiences. In our conduct of hermeneutic research, we grapple with “great problems” and encounter the human difficulty of topics such as childhood cancer, grief, mental illness, education and schools, arts and humanities, and other topics that show up in practice professions of nursing, teaching, social work, or psychology.  


Caputo, J.D. (1993). Against ethics: Contributions to a poetics of obligation with constant reference to deconstruction. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Caputo, J.D. (2015). Foreword: The wisdom of hermeneutics. In N.J. Moules, G. McCaffrey, J.C. Field, & C.M. Laing, Conducting hermeneutic research: From philosophy to practice (pp. ix-xiii). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Gadamer, H-G. (1996). The enigma of health (J. Gaiger & N. Walker, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Gadamer, H-G. (1960/2004). Truth and method (J. Weinsheimer & D.G. Marshall, Trans.). London, UK: Continuum.

Moules, N.J. (2015. Editorial: Aletheia – Remembering and enlivening. Journal of Applied Hermeneutics. Editorial 2. http://hdl.handle.net/10515/sy5qr4p68

Moules, N.J. & McCaffrey, G. (2015). Editorial: Catching hermeneutics in the act. Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, Editorial 1. http://hdl.handle.net/10515/sy53n20w8

Moules, N.J., McCaffrey, G., Field, J.C., & Laing, C.M. (2015). Conducting hermeneutic research: From philosophy to practice. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Nietzsche, F. (1982). Daybreak: Thoughts on the prejudices of morality (R.J.
Hollingdale, Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Svenaeus, F. (2000). The hermeneutics of medicine and the phenomenology of health. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic.