Methodology for the Human Sciences

Systems of Inquiry

By Donald E. Polkinghorne

Subjects: Transpersonal Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780873956642, 364 pages, June 1984
Hardcover : 9780873956635, 364 pages, June 1984

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. The Original Debate


The Anti-Positivist Response
The Recurring Debate


2. The Received View of Science


The First Phase: The Vienna Circle
The Second Phase: Theoretical Networks
The Human Sciences and the Deductive System of Inquiry


3. Pragmatic Science


The Third Phase: Criticism of the Received View
The Fourth Phase: Sciences as Expressions of Various World Outlooks
The Fifth Phase: Historical Realism


4. Systems and Structures


Structuralism and Human Systems
Systems Inquiry and Methodology


5. Human Action


The Nature of Human Action
Explanations and Accounts of Human Action: Causal Explanations
Explanations and Accounts of Human Action: Acausal Explanations
Explanations and Accounts of Human Action: Linguistic Accounts
Practical Reasoning


6. Existential-Phenomenological and Hermeneutic Systems


The Existential-Phenomenological System of Inquiry
Hermeneutics (Interpretation)
Interpretation and the Human Sciences


7. Human Science Research


The Nature of Knowledge
Use of Linguistic Data
Concluding Remarks


Appendix: The Term "Human Science"


Methodology for the Human Sciences addresses the growing need for a comprehensive textbook that surveys the emerging body of literature on human science research and clearly describes procedures and methods for carrying out new research strategies. It provides an overview of developing methods, describes their commonalities and variations, and contains practical information on how to implement strategies in the field. In it, Donald Polkinghorne calls for a renewal of debate over which methods are appropriate for the study of human beings, proposing that the results of the extensive changes in the philosophy of science since 1960 call for a reexamination of the original issues of this debate.

The book traces the history of the deliberations from Mill and Dilthey to Hempel and logical positivism, examines recently developed systems of inquiry and their importance for the human sciences, and relates these systems to the practical problems of doing research on topics related to human experience. It discusses historical realism, systems and structures, phenomenology and hermeneutics, action theory, and the implications recent systems have for a revised human science methodology.

Donald E. Polkinghorne is Emeritus Professor and Chair of Counseling Psychology at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences and Practice and the Human Sciences: The Case for a Judgment-Based Practice of Care, both also published by SUNY Press.