Beyond prejudice: method and interpretation in research in the visual arts Tom McGuirk Nottingham Trent University, UK

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1 Beyond prejudice: method and interpretation in research in the visual arts Tom McGuirk Nottingham Trent University, UK There is a tendency to seek an objective account of everything before admitting its reality. But often what appears to a more subjective point of view cannot be accounted for in this way. So either the objective conception of the world is incomplete, or the subjective involves illusions that should be rejected. (Nagel 1979: 196) The long established culture of research within the natural sciences and humanities is rooted in Enlightenment epistemology, an abiding tenet of which is the unity of knowledge, this idea has deep roots in our systems of higher education, constituting a little-examined premise that underlies many of the questions and anxiety attending the knowledge claims of practice-based research. If we ask questions like many of those this conference has posed, for example - "what is the status of the outcomes of research in the visual and performing arts in terms of what is known or discovered"? Then we are, consciously or otherwise, operating under this premise. Why otherwise should we measure the outcomes of these disciplines, with their different modes of knowing against a "gold standard" of methods from the "traditional disciplines"? It is doubtful that any such comparison can be made in neutral terms - on a level playing field as it were. Sciences truth claims would appear unassailable, whereas the ongoing debate regarding the validity of practice-based PhD degrees in the fields of fine art and design, testifies to profound insecurity regarding the truth clams of the visual arts. In Dialectic of Enlightenment, T.W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer critically examine the idea of the unitary conception of knowledge: In advance, the Enlightenment recognizes as being and occurrence only what can be apprehended in unity: its ideal is the system from which all and everything follows. Its rationalist and empiricist versions do not part company on that point... the structure of scientific unity has always been the same. Bacon's postulate of una scientia universalis, whatever the number of fields of research, is... inimical to the unassignable. (Adorno & Horkheimer 1997: 7)

2 The kind of knowledge with which the arts engage - the kind of knowledge with which practice based research grapples is all too often either shunted into this category of "the unassignable" or alternatively is forced to place itself under the auspices of the dominant knowledge model: "the scientific" or "empirical" methods of the "traditional disciplines". The by times, fraught nature of our current discourse is rooted in assumptions that follow directly from this predicament. It is to the field of art that the Enlightenment assigns all that resists systemization or cannot be brought under the unifying rubric of calculation. The ontological issues raised by Adorno and Horkheimer are echoed by Thomas Nagel who observes that "often the pursuit of a highly unified conception of life and the world leads to philosophical mistakes-to false reductions or to refusals to recognise 'part of what is real". Nagel takes this point further in arguing that, "certain forms of perplexity-for example, about freedom, knowledge and the meaning of life-seem to me to embody more insight than any of the proposed solutions to those problems". (Nagel, 1989: 3-4) Nagel here recognises something which constitutes an important aspect of the nature of artistic enquiry, in contrast to that of objective analysis, namely that the question may be as elucidating as any possible answer, or to put it another way that the binary of problemsolution may not necessarily be appropriate to the nature of some forms of enquiry. There arises thereby an idea of openness of enquiry both in terms of investigation and interpretation. This paper will focus in particular on Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics, because in addressing this issue of enquiry and interpretation, he emphasizes the role of participation, application and dialogue, in a way that is particularly relevant to research in the visual arts. For Adorno and Horkheimer, the unitary model of knowledge is fundamentally mathematical, typified by "formal logic", which provides a "schema of the calculability of the world". In its drive to overcome the tyranny of myth and of irrational prejudice, the Enlightenment turned to the later Plato's "mythologizing equation of Ideas with numbers". (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1997: 7). Pierre Bourdieu tellingly reminds us of the motto above the portico of Plato's Academy: "let no one enter here who is not a geometrician". (Bourdieu, 2003: 78) The calculability of geometry is a motif that exerts itself repeatedly in mainstream Western philosophy, Descartes, in a letter to Mersenne of 1638 comments: "my physics is nothing else but geometry". (Copleston 1999: 80) Mathematics then provides the elegant structure of a universal system, one that excludes the particular, the contingent and the irrational. Art, as Adorno and Horkheimer point out, simply doesn't fit that schema: To the Enlightenment, that which does not reduce to numbers, and ultimately to the one, becomes illusion; modern positivism writes it off as literature. (Adorno & Horkheimer 1997: 7) The arts are thereby systematically bracketed, reduced to the status of "meaningless prattle" (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1997: 7) they become in epistemological terms merely "a cognitionfree special area of social activity..." (Johnson 2007a: 25) These factors ground many of the epistemological anxieties and doubts regarding the truth claims of the arts that bedevil the field, a symptom of which is the frequent invidious comparison of research in the arts with the research methods and models of science. Bourdieu however formulates an illuminating comparison:

3 ... the scientific struggle, unlike the artistic struggle, is aimed at the monopoly of the scientifically legitimate representation of the 'real'... researchers, in their confrontation, tacitly accept the arbitration of the 'real' (as produced by the theoretical and experimental equipment actually available at the moment in question). (Bourdieu 2004: 69) This process entails a tacit acceptance, on the part of participants in the scientific enterprise, of being bound to an agreed understanding of what constitutes "objective reality" by which they also agree, "to be criticized, contradicted, refuted, in the name of reference to the real, which is constituted as the arbiter of research". (Bourdieu 2004: 69) Science then involves an acceptance on the part of the scientist of an agreed representation of "the real". This is what Thomas Kuhn refers to when he says: "normal science... is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like". (Kuhn 1970: 5) Heidegger makes a similar point, and his approach is typically existential. In his essay The Age of The World Picture, in answer to the question: "in what does the essence of research consist"? He replies as follows: In the fact that knowing... establishes itself as a procedure within some realm of what is, in nature or in history. Procedure does not mean here merely method or methodology. For, every procedure already requires an open sphere in which it moves. And it is precisely the opening up of such a sphere that is the fundamental event in research. This is accomplished through the projection within some realm of what is - in nature, for example - of a fixed ground plan of natural events. The projection sketches out in advance the manner in which the knowing procedure must bind itself and adhere to the sphere opened up. This binding adherence is the rigor of research. (Heidegger 1977: 118) Let us examine a passage from the thematic description of this conference; "it is characteristic of research outputs, reports and theses in traditional disciplines that they are expressed in unambiguous language. One reason for this is to establish the grounds and argument from which the conclusions derive". This reflects Heidegger's meaning, because research within "traditional disciplines" is ultimately founded (as outlined above), on what Heidegger calls the 'the mathematical project' which involves "the anticipation of the essence of things, of bodies [whereby the] basic blueprint of the structure of every thing and its relation to every other thing is sketched in advance". (Heidegger 1993: 292) Such method with its fore-projection and closure is antipathetic to art. For Heidegger that much lauded virtue, the "rigor of research", has another aspect - a closure to other possible aspects of the "real". Art by contrast does not proceed by such means, but involves revelation, it is the "happening of truth", the radical opening up of a space, of which no ground plan can be anticipated, for this reason method, which serves science so well, is at best inappropriate to, at worst destructive of art. Art demands an open field of enquiry. Adorno and Horkheimer in their critique of Enlightenment capture this sense of closure. More significantly they analyse how mathematics in the guise of scientific or empirical method has, to borrow Bourdieu's phrase, achieved its "epistemological privilege". For the Enlightenment is as totalitarian as any system. Its untruth does not consist in what its romantic, enemies have always reproached it for: analytical method, return to elements, dissolution through reflective thought; but instead in the fact that for enlightenment the

4 process is always decided from the start. When in mathematical procedure the unknown becomes the unknown quantity of an equation, this, marks it as the wellknown even before any value is inserted. Nature, before and after the quantum theory, is that which is to be comprehended mathematically; even what cannot be made to agree, indissolubility and irrationality, is converted by means of mathematical theorems. In the anticipatory indentification of the wholly conceived and mathematized world with truth, enlightenment intends to secure itself against the return of the mythic. It confounds thought and mathematics. In this way the latter is, so to speak, released and made into an absolute instance. (Adorno & Horkheimer 1997: 24) Heidegger explains the real significance of Cartesian method by focusing on an early work by Descartes: Reguale ad directionem ingenii (Rules for the Direction of the Mind). Heidegger singles out a number or these rules including: Regula IV: in which Descartes states that: "method is necessary for discovering the truth of nature." Heidegger interprets this as follows: This rule does not intend the platitude that a science must have its method, but it wants to say that the procedure, i.e., how in general we are to pursue things (methodos), decides in advance what truth we shall seek out in the things. Method is not one piece of equipment of science among others but the primary component out of which is first determined what can become object and how it becomes object. (Heidegger 1993: 300) Heidegger recognises that reality - the "real'"- responds and reveals according to how we question it. Cartesian method effectively eclipses other forms of knowing, as Heidegger puts it "the mathematical now sets itself up as the principle of all knowledge" and thereby all other forms of knowledge "whether tenable or not" are brought into question. (Heidegger 1993: 301) It is perhaps ironic, given our current questioning and anxiety that the Enlightenment portrayal of the scientific method as representing an objective, disinterested stance has as we know, been subject to ongoing criticism from both within and without the field of science. Kuhn for example acknowledges that scientific research involves, "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education... whatever the element of arbitrariness in [these boxes] historic origins". (Kuhn 1970: 5) Bourdieu from a sociologists' point of view, reminds us that science is a field much like other fields of human endeavour attuned to the dynamics of power. Science cannot appeal to the authority of a transcendental truth: The definition of what is at stake in the scientific struggle is one of the things at stake in the scientific struggle. The dominant players are those who manage to impose the definition of science that says that the most accomplished realization of science consists in having, being and doing what they have, are and do... in the scientific field as elsewhere, there is no authority to legitimate the sources of legitimacy. (Bourdieu, 2001: 63) Much of Bourdieu's theory regarding the dynamics of scholastic and scientific disciplines is centred on the key concepts of "cultural capital", "field", "discipline", and "habitus":

5 A discipline is defined by possession of a collective capital of specialized methods and concepts, mastery of which is the tacit or implicit cost of entry to the field. It produces a 'historical transcendental' the disciplinary habitus, a system of schemes of perception and appreciation (where the incorporated discipline acts as a censorship). It is characterized by a set of socio-transcendental conditions, constitutive of a style. (Bourdieu 2004: 65) Bourdieu deliberately uses the word style to create an association with the field of art. He points out however that this property of style, "a property of the various sciences, or disciplines" is disparaged within contemporary science and has:... been crushed, eclipsed, in all reflection on science, by the fact that physics and, more precisely, quantum physics has been set up as the sole model of scientificity, in the name of a social privilege converted-into an epistemological privilege... (Bourdieu 2004: 65) Bourdieu, ever sensitive to the dynamics of power-play in and between fields, points to a syndrome we have encountered earlier - science's refusal to recognize what Kuhn described as the "arbitrariness" of its "historical origins". Gadamer tells us that "the fundamental prejudice of the enlightenment is the prejudice against prejudice itself, which denies religion its power". (Gadamer 2004: 273) He reminds us that prejudice is inherent in all method. However Enlightenment's identification of its purpose as an assault on all prejudice - whether religious, social or institutional, necessitated a denial of its own historical roots in traditions other than the rational. Gadamer's seminal work Truth and Method, takes as a point of departure a critique of the imposition of methods derived from the natural sciences onto research methodologies within the humanities. He investigates how from the nineteenth century onward "the human sciences' claim to know something true came to be measured by a standard foreign to it - namely the methodical thinking of modern science". (Gadamer 2004: 21) The hermeneutics he evolved is of considerable relevance to our current debate regarding the application of scientific and empirical method to our disciplines. Jean Grondin, explains Gadamer's motivation:...when it came to the Geisteswissenschaften [Human Sciences]: people go wrong when they try to force them to conform to the systematic ideal of methodically constructed knowledge, a model that neither can nor should suffice for them. What was involved in the Geisteswissenschaften was a completely different kind of knowledge, namely, participation in, not dominion over, the experience of meaning. (Grondin, 2003: 268) In his repost to the overbearing claims of the scientific method, Gadamer turns to the Aristotelian tradition in which contemplative and speculative knowledge and "the possibilities of rational proof and instruction" do not "fully exhaust the sphere of knowledge". (Gadamer 2004: 21) For Aristotle the arts represent important forms of knowledge such as techne. He assigns, for example, greater philosophical import to poetry than to history. Of particular interest to Gadamer is phronesis, or practical wisdom: knowledge that concerns itself with deliberation in addressing practical matters. Gadamer has, a particular interested in the "hermeneutical dimension" of phronesis "as a mode of knowledge irreducible to the episteme of theoretical science". (Sadler 1996: 142) Phronesis pertains to noncontemplative forms of knowledge, evident for example in oratory, the kind of knowledge which involves thinking on ones feet, which is to a degree tacit and embodied, it concerns

6 taste or discernment and the employment of tact, the kinds of knowledge that is indispensable to many aspects of practical and artistic life. Nineteenth century Germany saw the emergence of an internationally influential "scientific" method of historical investigation under the influence of, Barthold Georg Niebuhr and Niebuhr's disciple and groundbreaking Professor of History at Berlin, Leopold von Ranke. Ranke believed that by the application of scientific principles history could be written, as it "actually happened". The British philosopher John Stewart Mill was influential in this movement. Mill and his German disciples believed that the human sciences should be focused on "establishing similarities, regularities, and conformities to law which would make it possible to predict individual phenomena and processes". (Gadamer 2004: 3) Central to Mill's theory as outlined in his book Logic, is a unitary conception of knowledge. Gadamer characterises it thus:... the method of meteorology is just the same as that of physics, but its data is incomplete and therefore its predictions are more uncertain. The same is true in the field of moral and social phenomena. The use of the inductive method is also free from all metaphysical assumptions and remains perfectly independent of how one conceives of the phenomena that one is observing... Thus it is quite unimportant whether one believes, say, in the freedom of the will or not, one can still make predictions in the sphere of social life. (Gadamer 2004: 4) If the application of inductive method to the human sciences proved imprecise, this was explained by the intractable nature of their subject - the human being. This model had an irresistible appeal for the nineteenth century mind, there was it seemed no limit to what the universal application of "inductive method" could achieve, Gadamer outlines the presumption of Mill's Logic regarding the humanities: It is apparent that there is no question of acknowledging that the human sciences have their own logic but, on the contrary,... the inductive method, basic to all experimental science, is the only method valid in this field too. (Gadamer 2004: 3) Sally J. Morgan traces the influence these developments on our current dilemmas and insecurities regarding the validity of practice-based research, particularly the fraught debate surrounding the PhD degree in practice based fine art. She reminds us of the genesis of the idea that scientific method might also provide a template for research in the visual arts and why this is inappropriate:... the research degree that [Ranke] inaugurated, the direct ancestor of the modem humanities PhD, was conceived as a riposte to art; as a scientific antidote to the imagination; to Croce's 'intuitive'. The structure of conventional PhD research then, arises from an ideological construct realised in the form of one side of a moral binary, in which science represents truth and art delusion. By 1848 Ranke's research methodologies had formed the basis for historical scholarship throughout Germany and it was this that informed the humanities PhD as we know it today. (Morgan 2001: 11) In crafting his hermeneutics, Gadamer turns to the eighteenth century Neapolitan theorist Giovanni Battista Vico, an early critic of the dominance and extension into the humanities

7 of the Cartesian method, the universal application of which he regarded as representing something of a juggernaut, which threatened older Humanist traditions of education and civic life. Vico argued vehemently for the retention of the kinds of knowledge represented by rhetoric, which cultivated memory and the imagination he warned that "if you were to import the geometrical method into practical life, you would do no more than exhaust yourself in becoming a rational lunatic". (Miner 1998: 53) Vico sees speech rather than reason as such, as the "basis of culture". (Costello 2003: see references) Essentially situated, prudentia for Vico, involves, the ability to deal with the contingent and the probable. And here we come to an important conception of knowledge that Gadamer shares with Vico, one that recognises the truth claims of the art of the rhetorician, the advocate and indeed the conversationalist. Gadamer reminds us that the word jurisprudence has its origin in prudence (prudentia). Judgement is the application of practical reasoning in ascertaining the truth, which is moreover cognisant of the finitude of our knowledge, our never being in possession of all the facts. Jurisprudence represents a powerful hermeneutic model for Gadamer. This reflects Gadamer's key insight, that in the context of our human existence, to understand is to interpret rather than to establish conviction through conclusive proof. This point has a particular resonance for practice based research, not least because this is a model that comprehends situation, "application" and ultimately action. This emphasis on application is of particular significance. In Being and Time, Heidegger, suggests that there is a "deficiency" in knowledge if it is divorced from or "holds back" from "producing and manipulating and the like", if we adopt this stance, then we accept a detached way of being in the world whereby we are merely, "tarrying alongside", we are concerned with mere representation or how things look, adopting a "viewpoint in advance from the entity which it encounters", this represents the objective distance of the Cartesian method. Heidegger contrasts this with the kind of knowing which truly belongs to Dasein or "being-in-the world", a situated, engaged, and thereby authentic knowing. (Heidegger 1962: 88-89) George Steiner summarises Heidegger's point: Platonic Cartesian cogitation and the Cartesian foundation of the world's reality in human reflection are attempts to "leap through or across the world"... in order to arrive at the noncontingent purity of eternal Ideas or of mathematical functions and certitudes. But this attempted leap from and to abstraction is radically false to the facticity of the world as we encounter it, as we live it. (Steiner 1987: 88) The traditionalist 'objective' approach to knowledge is mistaken because Heidegger reminds us: "the perceiving of what is known is not a process of returning with one's booty to the "cabinet" of consciousness after one has gone out and grasped it". (Heidegger 1962: 89) It is this erroneous conception of knowledge that Gadamer also rejects when he suggests that "hermeneutics in the sphere of philology and the historical sciences" is not:... 'knowledge as domination' i.e., an appropriation as taking possession; rather, it consists in subordinating ourselves to the text's claim to dominate our minds. Of this, however, legal and theological hermeneutics are the true model. To interpret the law's will or the promises of God is clearly not a form of domination but of service. They are interpretationswhich includes applicationin the service of what is considered valid. (Gadamer, 2004: 310)

8 Gadamer makes an important point here he clarifies the significance of the Aristotelian tradition of phronesis within jurisprudence, for his conception of knowledge, a conception emphasising service and application. Traditions of philosophy from Aristotle to the modern schools of Phenomenology and Pragmatism share a similar conception of knowledge as being of service or as Dewey put it "of avail". (Dewey 1916: 21) In this they stand in stark contrast to the dominant epistemologies of the "traditional disciplines". Dewey criticized the stasis of attitudes to knowledge that sees it as a commodity, fixed within texts, stored on library shelves, managed and disseminated, whereby:... learning is the sum total of what is known, as that is handed down by books and learned men. It is something external, an accumulation of cognitions as one might store material commodities in a warehouse. Truth exists ready-made somewhere. (Dewey 1916: see bibliography 25) Dewey sees this attitude as essentially aesthetic rather than truly intellectual. 'Learning' in this context becomes a noun, with the connotation of a fixed entity or an accomplishment, it is removed from action, from doing and making. Dewey's pragmatist epistemology rejects this static view of knowledge in favour of a conception that focuses on action and application: Only that which has been organised into our disposition so as to enable us to adapt the environment to our needs and to adapt our aims and desires to the situation in which we live is really knowledge. (Dewey 1916: 25) Gadamer approaches the question of knowledge with a similar ontological attitude to Heidegger's, "the hermeneutical problem too is clearly distinct from "pure" knowledge detached from any particular kind of being". (Gadamer 2004: 312) This relates to his focus on the Aristotelian tradition within jurisprudence and theology that emphasises application and service. The following gives a clear sense of his rationale in writing Truth and Method, with its core objection to the scientific method being imposed on the humanities: The alienation of the interpreter from the interpreted by the objectifying methods of modern science, characteristic of the hermeneutics and historiography of the nineteenth century, appeared as the consequence of a false objectification. My purpose in returning to the example of Aristotelian ethics is to help us realize and avoid this. For moral knowledge, as Aristotle describes it, is clearly not objective knowledge-i.e., the knower is not standing over against a situation that he merely observes; he is directly confronted with what he sees it is something that he has to do. If this objection holds for the humanities how much more does it hold for the arts, in view of their relation to praxis and their engagement with the environment? In epistemological terms, Gadamer's stance represents a championing of practice in face of the dominance of the contemplative-theoretical attitude. Gadamer in emphasising of the significance of practical wisdom, rhetoric and interpretation, is naturally drawn to art as a model for knowing, but he encounters a barrier. Kant in Critique of Judgment as he puts it: "restricted the idea of taste to an area in which, as a special principle of judgment, it could claim independent validity" in other words to the aesthetic. As Gadamer explains:

9 The radical subjectivization involved in Kant's new way of grounding aesthetics was truly epochmaking. In discrediting any kind of theoretical knowledge except that of natural science, it compelled the human sciences to rely on the methodology of the natural sciences in conceptualizing themselves. (Gadamer 2004: 36) Mark Johnson tells us that in Kant, "the 'aesthetic" came to be "associated with art (through beauty) and then, because it was tied to feeling, dismissed from any role in conceptualization, meaning, reasoning, and knowledge". (Johnson 2007a: 217) Taste is for Gadamer "a mode of knowing" and he reminds us that the concept of taste was "originally more of a moral than aesthetic idea". (Gadamer 2004: 31). Whereas for Kant; "nothing pertaining to taste can ever be the basis for universal concepts, propositions or knowledge". (Johnson 2007a: 218) Johnson shows how the scientific basis of nineteenth century historiography and the human sciences, was also detrimental for the arts: The rise of the sciences of human nature during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries prompted philosophers interested in the arts to change their focus from the nature of art to an almost exclusive concern with how the mind works in aesthetic judgment. By focusing primarily on the faculties of the mind that give rise to judgments about beauty - especially the faculties known as imagination and feeling - these philosophers ceased to regard art as a way of worldmaking. Even worse, their faculty psychology relegated feelings and emotions to the secondary status of noncognitive and merely subjective bodily states, unfitted to ground genuine understanding and knowledge. (Johnson 2007a: ) Heidegger holds that the scientific attitude cuts us off from "the primal intention of lived life". (Safranski 1999: 97) It does this by creating a distance between ourselves and in Heideggerian terms the "worlding" of things. Heidegger believes that art freed from the bonds of Kantian aesthetics has a world-making aspect, overcoming this distancing of the world from us. Heidegger's later turn to art represents a turn to what he regards as a nontheoretical mode of knowledge. It is to such a conception of art that Gadamer also appeals when he asks:... is it right to reserve the concept of truth for conceptual knowledge? Must we not also acknowledge that the work of art possesses truth? (Gadamer 2004: 37) Just as Dewey believed the word learning was best used as a verb, he has the same attitude to the word knowledge with its connotations of commodity, "knowing" is in this view, a far more useful word. Mark Johnson coming from the same Pragmatist tradition echoes this view and expresses some useful insights into our current dilemmas: In my view, any debate in the artworld about whether there is anything in art that corresponds to 'research' in the sciences and humanities is a somewhat misguided question, mostly because of traditional mistaken emphasis on knowledge as a body of information. However, if art making is regarded as a form of inquiry - with crucial dimensions of reflection, critique and creativity involved - then the idea of 'art research' can make sense. (Johnson 2007b: 102) Both Heidegger and Gadamer recognize the finitude of human knowledge as an essential part of our human nature. Phonesis represents for Gadamer a way of knowing that recognises this and is thereby open to the probable, and the contingent. It is still operative in our traditions of jurisprudence, in the pragmatic weighing up the available evidence and

10 an awareness of the finite nature of that evidence. Recognizing tradition it enters a dialectic engagement with tradition. It represents a reasonableness that recognizes the limitations of mere rationalism. Riccardo Dottori, in conversation with Gadamer, outlines the relationship of phronesis to dialogue in his thought: Proceeding from this conception of phronesis as an application of the general law to the specific case,... you saw the universal problem of interpretation, which in turn becomes the general problem of hermeneutic philosophy. Thus you arrived at a concept that is meant to dissolve the concept of reason without its essential content getting lost. After this, reasonableness would be the more appropriate translation of phronesis. This is how you elevated phronesis to the level of the dialogue. (Dottori 2003: 21) The importance of dialogue to Gadamer's Hermeneutics follows from a cognisance of the finitude of our knowledge whereby we must recognise the constant need for questioning, interrogation and interpretation then more questioning more dialogue and this is an ongoing process, the closure demanded by scientific method, has no place in this circle. This model is an apt one for artistic enquiry also. Science through its methods questions nature in ways that are highly effective and productive of useful truths, but which also involve concealed fundamental prejudices, anticipations and projections. These aspects of science, both Gadamer and Heidegger would argue, limit sciences scope in dealing with "the real" in all its facets, while simultaneously narrowing the scope of its findings and making them appear definite. This in turn narrows the possibilities in terms of our interpretation of them. Art is by contrast essentially a process of disclosure, which of its nature i.e. in it's openness, resists the kind of definiteness we associate with science, and is thereby more open or amenable to a breath of interpretation. As George Steiner puts it, interpreting Heidegger, whereas the "answers" or "facts" produced by "positivistic" science"...leave the question settled and therefore inert", art questions that which being "inexhaustible" can yield no "terminal answers". (Steiner 1989: 56) Steiner explains Heidegger's view, referencing Dickens' antihero: In this sphere, which we might compare with Mr. Gradgrind's world of 'facts,' there are terminal answers, decidabilities... There [are]... no last and formal decidabilities to the question of the meaning of human existence or of a Mozart sonata or of the conflict between individual conscience and social constraint. The Fragwurdige (worthy of being questioned) dignifies the question and the questioner by making of the process of interrogation and response an ever-renewed dialogue and counterpoint. (Steiner 1989: 56) The relevance of this for our topic is the essential link Gadamer draws between inquiry and dialogue. He turns to both law and art as alternative models of enquiry for the humanities, because of their shared attributes, both employ phronesis and are characterized by an openness to enquiry. In both, knowledge or knowing concerns application, which is in the service of something "considered valid" whether law or art. Steiner's phrase captures the sense of the openness and finitude of such enquiry where "interrogation and response" informs "an ever-renewed dialogue and counterpoint". Morgan, both a historian and an artist, contextualizes this process and outlines the conflict that arises when research in the field of art is forcibly measured against criteria which have their origin in the "scientific narrative":... "truth" in "scientific" historiography is, supposedly, proven; that is, made explicit through the ordered presentation of material, (i.e. of non-symbolic "facts"), in an exposition which is

11 consciously argued and "concluded" by the author in an attempt to avoid ambiguity. So, if in art "truth" is implied rather than overtly proposed, then in scientific "history", since at least the nineteenth century, "truth", or "meaning", has been constructed explicitly, each historical work aiming to achieve a closure" in which a conclusion has been drawn from the evidence.... In art, meaning is constructed through a complex and sophisticated synthesis of sensual and intellectual allusion. It does not deduce, it endlessly proposes. (Morgan 2001: 14) Once again we encounter a recognition of scientific enquiry's requirement for closure, which Moran contrasted with the openness and sense of ongoing dialogue or artistic enquiry. Morgan furthermore suggests that this "poses enormous problems for defining a process of artistic enquiry against the criteria for humanities or social science research". (Morgan 2001: 14) Heidegger and Dewey both, identify the roots of the objectifying stance of science in the Greek contemplative tradition. For the Greeks activity, experience, and change carried negative connotations, "practical life was in perpetual flux, while intellectual knowledge concerned eternal truth". (Dewey 1916: 20) Gadamer in his defence of the humanities recognises that man is fundamentally concerned with action, she is a doer and a maker, concerned with her environment and predisposed to intervention:... [Man] knows himself as an acting being, and this kind of knowledge of himself does not seek to establish what is. An active being, rather, is concerned with what is not always the same but can also be different. In it he can discover the point at which he has to act. The purpose of his knowledge is to govern his action. (Gadamer 2004: 312) This aspect of the human, a concern for what 'can be different' is fundamental to creativity within the arts. Gadamer suggests that man is more a maker than an observer. This is what makes his hermeneutics so relevant to for the arts and for our topic. Both the Pragmatist and Phenomenologist schools have independently come to this same view of man and yet as the premise of our discussion shows, the culture of higher education clings to Cartesian method as its gold standard. It is over ninety years since Dewey suggested that "we have no right to call anything knowledge except where our activity has actually produced certain physical changes in things, which agree with and confirm the conception entertained" (Dewey 1916: 21) and over eighty since Heidegger in Being and Time wrote that "the kind of care that manipulates things and puts them to use... has its own kind of knowledge". (Heidegger 1962: 95) Yet we still seen bound to and fixated by conceptions of knowledge, which militate against the knowing belonging to praxis and, as Mark Johnson has recently demonstrated to a Cartesian denial of both the truth claims art, and embodied aspects of knowledge. (Johnson 2007a) There is a further aspect to Gadamer's setting of interpretation in the context of dialogue that is of relevance here, it concerns the idea of pluralism and the relationship of research in the visual and performing arts to models of research in other disciplines. It is perhaps somewhat ironic given our earlier discussion that that iconoclastic philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, in critiquing scientific method should look to Mill for a template for how to proceed without method. He points out that: According to Mill people develop best in pluralistic societies that contain many ideas, traditions, forms of life. Such societies are also best suited for the improvement of

12 knowledge. A plurality of views is preferable to a uniform intellectual climate... (Feyerabend 1999: 213) In a manner reminiscent of Heidegger' anxiety for the demise of art, he cautions that it is impossible to compare the results of other "forms of life" with science, because "forms of life different from science either have disappeared or have degenerated to an extent that makes a fair comparison impossible". (Feyerabend 1999: 186) He ventures a further point, one that we, and our colleagues in the "traditional disciplines" might equally embrace, as he puts it "the history of ideas is an essential part of scientific method". (Feyerabend 1999: 214) Feyerabend asserts that a "science" genuinely concerned with truth will foster all of Mill's various 'forms of life'. References Adorno T.W. & Horkheimer M Dialectic of Enlightenment London & New York: Verso Bourdieu P Practical Reason Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu P Science of Science and Reflexivity Cambridge: Polity. Copleston C A History of Philosophy New York & London: Continuum Costelloe T. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy First published Wed Jun 11, 2003; substantive revision Tue Jul 15, 2008 accessed 31st August entries/vico/ Dewey J Democracy and Education Online archive Columbia University As accessed on 9/9/08 NB. Numbers indicate Chapters (searchable online). Dottori R A Century of Philosophy: Hans-Georg Gadamer in conversation with Riccardo Dottori, Coltman R. & Køpke S. (trans.) New York & London: Continuum. Feyerabend P Knowledge Science and Relativism Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gadamer H-G 2004 Truth and Method (trans.) Weinsheimer J., Marshall D.G. London & New York: Compendium Gronin, J Hans-Georg Gadamer: a biography (trans.) Weinsheimer, J. Newhaven & London: Yale University Press. Heidegger M Being and Time, trans. Macguarrie J. & Robinson E., Oxford: Blackwell, p. 95. (Original in the German as Sein und Zeit, 1927) Heidegger M "The Age of The World Picture" [1938] in Lovitt W. (trans. & editor) The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays trans. New York: Harper and Row Torchbooks.

13 Heidegger M "Modern Science, Metaphysics and Mathematics" in Farrell Krell D. (trans. & editor) Basic Writings: Martin Heidegger London: Routledge Johnson M. 2007a The Meaning of the Body Chicago & London: Chicago University Press. Johnson M. 2007b "The Stone That Was Cast Out Shall Become The Cornerstone: the bodily aesthetics of human meaning" in: Biggs I. (ed.) Journal of Visual Art Practice Volume 6 Number 2. Bristol: Intellect Kuhn, Thomas S The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Miner R.C "Verum-factum" and Practical Wisdom in the Early Writings of Giambattista Vico Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 59, No. 1. Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Press. Morgan S.J "The Terminal Degree: fine art and the PhD" Journal of Visual Art Practice, Volume 6 Number 2. Bristol: Intellect Nagle T "Subjective and Objective," in Mortal Questions, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Nagle T The View from Nowhere, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press Safranski R Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (trans. Osers E.) Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Steiner G Martin Heidegger, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. to cite this journal article: McGuirk, T. (2008) Beyond prejudice: method and interpretation in research in the visual arts. Working Papers in Art and Design 5 Retrieved <date> from <URL> ISSN