What’s “Method” got to do with Anything?

Quite a lot as it happens. But what is meant by “method”?  Isn’t it like being a detective? Close observation, organising the clues, and finding “the” answer? The problem of method lies in what it assumes. That is to say, there is a tendency within the academy to regard the adoption of a method as a goal-oriented process, a means to achieving “appropriate outcomes” rather than a journey of open discovery.



Although the practice of research can, at times, feel approximate to detective work, the playful motif of researcher-as-detective does art a disservice when seeking to work towards an answer to the question of interpretation by means of observation, deduction, the solving of puzzles, the decoding of clues and the raking back towards a “whodunnit”.

The questions I have about The Finding and the material it prompts me to consider, cannot be deduced from the range of evidence habitually cited. That is to say, Holman Hunt’s story, Pre-Raphaelite mythology or even F.G. Stephens’s exhibition pamphlet. I can’t therefore haul the ususal suspects into view for deployment in my quest.

Anyway, I know whodunnit. My question is really a “howdunnit”, not how did Holman Hunt put the drawing and painting together. But what kind of knowledge, inherited knowledge, or understanding was needed in order to produce the work? What kind of world, or Weltanschauung (world view) produced this work? That is the question.

Hans Georg Gadamer does not advocate a way to truth via “method” even though the title “Truth and Method” might suggest it. What is your necessary pre-judice? Your “fore understanding” or mental baggage? And do you need these things in order to understand anything you encounter?



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