Hermeneutics and Critical Hermeneutics: Exploring Possibilities within the Art of Interpretation


  • Elizabeth Anne Kinsella University of Western Ontario




hermeneutics, critical hermeneutics, interpretation


Hermeneutics has much to offer those interested in qualitative inquiry, and is especially suitable for work of a textual and interpretive nature, yet writings in hermeneutics are frequently viewed as dense and impenetrable, particularly to North American audiences and those unfamiliar with the Continental Philosophical tradition. Drawing on Hans Georg GADAMER, as well as other hermeneutic thinkers, an introductory overview of five characteristics of a hermeneutic approach is offered in this paper. Further, it is suggested that hermeneutics can fruitfully be partnered with a critical approach. In this regard, a critical attitude and a metaxological approach are explored and a conceptualization of critical hermeneutics is proposed. It is suggested that hermeneutics and critical hermeneutics implicitly underpin qualitative inquiry, both of which emphasize the interpretive act of understanding, and a dialogue on this subject is invited. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0603190


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Author Biography

Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, University of Western Ontario

Anne KINSELLA is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Western Ontario. Her research interests are in health professional education, reflective practice, ethics and aesthetics. She is a qualitative researcher and a founding member of Western’s Qualitative Health Research Network. The author gratefully acknowledges support for this work from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.




How to Cite

Kinsella, E. A. (2006). Hermeneutics and Critical Hermeneutics: Exploring Possibilities within the Art of Interpretation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-7.3.145

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