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Calculative Thought with a Meditative Purpose: Forensic Science and Hermeneutic Thought

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As human beings we go through the world interpreting – seeing a situation, gathering context, and making a decision on the meaning of the thing we just experienced. The philosopher Martin Heidegger calls this way of being hermeneutics – a

As human beings we go through the world interpreting – seeing a situation, gathering context, and making a decision on the meaning of the thing we just experienced. The philosopher Martin Heidegger calls this way of being hermeneutics – a practice of interpretation. This method of approach does not ignore a person’s bias, instead bias is highlighted, understood, and possibly even overcome. In the following pages the basic definition and process of hermeneutics will be discussed. Leading into the difference between calculative and meditative thought – scientific and philosophical – in order to later discuss the possibility and need to merge the two in the field of Forensic Science. Forensic Scientist uses hermeneutic thought by way of merging calculative and meditative thinking. In order to support this claim artistic renderings of ‘the pieces of an unknowable whole’ were created to literally illustrate this truth.
Forensic science is tasked with using calculative thinking with scientifically accepted methods of measurement and detection as well as the meditative task of applying their data to messy, real-world events. In order to support my supposition of forensic scientists being hermeneutical workers, three paintings were created. The three paintings can be considered a tryptic of sorts due to the context in which they are presented: forensic science. They each tell a story that is weaved within each other – spatter indicating violence long past, the empty void of a body gone, and the cold decomposition of a victim found. It is the forensic scientist that must interpret each piece separately and is tasked with finding how and why they are put together. The hermeneutical work of the forensic scientist interpreting a crime scene uses the same methods as one who interprets text. A forensic scientist opens possibilities of meaning in the same way that Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutic circle does. There is interplay between the interpreter (the forensic scientist) and the text (the crime scene), questions are formed (what happened here?) and responses are made (evidence found at the scene). This question and response outlook is what make the forensic scientist a hermeneutic thinker.

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Date Created
2018-05