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The implications for science education of the hermeneutic philosophy of science
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
This paper introduces a modern philosophical tradition and indicates its implications for science education. The hermeneutic philosophy of science is the tradition of Kant, Heidegger, and Heelan. Essential to this tradition are two concepts of truth, truth as correspondence and truth as disclosure. It is these concepts that enable access to science in and of itself. Modern science forces aspects of reality to reveal themselves to human beings in events of disclosure. The achievement of each event of disclosure requires the precise manipulation of equipment, which is an activity that depends on truth as correspondence.
The implications of the hermeneutic philosophy of science for science education are profound. The paper refers to Newton’s early work on optics to explore what the theory implies for teaching. Science is about a relationship between each student, equipment, and reality. Science teachers provide for their students access to truth and they may show how their discipline holds a special relationship to reality. If the aim of science teaching is to enable students to disclose reality, the science curriculum will challenge some of the current practices of schooling. If teachers base science teaching upon the hermeneutic philosophy of science, science will assert itself as the intellectual discipline that derives from nature, and not from the inclinations of human beings. It will become apparent that science teachers teach nature’s own science.
Keywords: philosophy of science, hermeneutics, Kant, Heidegger, Heelan, Newton, truth, reality, science education, science teaching.
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