Jerome Bruner on explanation versus interpretation

… [the conventional aims of positivist science with its ideals of reductionism, causal explanation and prediction] need not be treated like the Trinity. For when we deal with meaning and culture, we inevitably move toward another ideal. To reduce meaning or culture to a material base, to say they “depend”, say, on the left hemisphere, is to trivialize both in the service of misplaced concreteness. To insist upon explanation in terms of “causes” simply bars us from trying to understand how human beings interpret their worlds and how we interpret their acts of interpretation. And if we take the object of psychology (as of any intellectual enterprise) to be the achievement of understanding, why is it necessary under all conditions for us to understand in advance of the phenomena to be observed—which is all that prediction is? Are not plausible interpretations preferable to causal explanation, particularly when the achievement of a causal explanation forces us to artificialize what we are studying to a point almost beyond recognition as representation of human life? (p. xiii)

Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press.

Voir aussi Granger (1994).


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