Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.2, 308-313
Published Online May 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
“Kunstlehre” and Applied Phenomenology
Wen-Sheng Wang
Department of Philosophy, National Chengc hi Univ ersity, Taipei, Taiwan
Received March 5th, 2013; r evised April 10th, 2013; accepted April 20th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Wen-Sheng Wang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
This article attempts to clarify the ambiguity or double sense of “Kunstlehre” by Husserl and Gadamer,
and emphasizes “Kunstlehre” as pure science that originated in Aristotle’s evaluation of theoría, and as
fine art, or as the nature or quasi-nature of “as if”, according to Kant’s idea. Aristotle’s concept of phróne-
sis will be also regarded as a kind of natural “as if”, and considered as “Kunstlehre”. Gadamer’s philoso-
phical hermeneutics makes a high level or deep theoretical reflection on the “Kunst” of understanding. He
founds his hermeneutics under phrónesis, which will be discussed in detail. Regarding the application of
“Kunstlehre” to a practical research, this article shows a contribution by Hersch, and explains how
phrónesis is actualized in a case study by him. In the end, “Kunstslehre” will be pointed out as a process
of exercise with time whereby Sensus communis functions as a principle (arché) of Gadamer’s hermeneu-
tics, and makes the process of the formation of phrónesis possible.
Keywords: Kunstlehre; Phenomenology; Husserl; Gadamer; Phrónesis; Sensus Communis; Applied
Why do I bring the two terms “Kunstlehre” and “applied
phenomenology” together?
When I first encountered the term “Kunstlehre” in phenome-
nological texts or contexts, I found it indicates, as great phe-
nomenologists, such as Husserl or Gadamer (if we see herme-
neutics also as a stage of the whole phenomenological move-
ment) pointed out, that phenomenology is an applicable phi-
losophy, which however must not be limited to a specific or
concrete domain. It means phenomenology is not a technical
knowledge. The usage of “Kunstlehre” actually implies the am-
biguity of phenomenology.
Then, through discussions with phenomenologists and direct
experience with practical phenomenological research in a hos-
pital1, I discovered that there are several re search methods based
on different phenomenological theories, such as Husserl’s tran-
scendental phenomenology2 or Heidegger’s fundamental on-
tology3. There are often discussions regarding whether an ap-
propriate phenomenological research method exists. Besides, I
found that, since any practical phenomenological research aims
at gaining an essential meaning of its specific topic, the mean-
ing in the end manifests an ethical character.
Moreover, for a more profound understanding, “Kunstlehre”
should be raised on the philosophical level, with both practical
and theoretical interests, not for the sake of simple knowledge,
but for the sake of the arete, practical “being and action.”4 This
author takes “Kunstlehre”, in a general or philosophical sense,
followed by a connection with Aristotle’s concept of phrónesis.
Finally, research methods used in applied phenomenology as
“Kunstlehre” must not be regarded as a simple technique. They
should be raised to become “Kunstlehre” as philosophia in
relation to arete and phrónesis. This state indicates the re-
searched meaning is characterized by ethics, and the research-
ers engaged in a learning process in order to gain the meaning.
The following discussion is divided into two parts. The first
is this paper’s review of the conception of “Kunstlehre”, by
Husserl and Gadamer, which shows the ambiguity of their ex-
position of this notion, as well as their position in both practical
and theoretical phenomenology, in order to justify my former
assertion. The second is this paper’s reflections on applied
phenomenology, which provides an example to manifest the
significance of a research method becoming “Kunstlehre” in a
philosophical sense.
1I have practiced a research project “Recovery of the phenomenological
meaning for the technological psychotherapy” from August 2002 to October
2004, in a state-run hospital, supported by the National Science Counsel o
Taiwan. Please see my article: “Art as a Way of the Recovery from Techne to
thos-Phenomenological Approach to Indigenous Mental Healing in Tai-
wan,” selected Essays from Asia-Phenomenology 2005-Vol.1, Part 2, Nr. 25
Zeta Books, CARP, 2007. 12.
2For example: Moustakas, C.: Phenomenological Research Methods. Thou-
sand Oaks/London/New Delhi: International Education and Professional
Publisher, 1994.
3For example: Hersch, Edwin L. (2003): From Philosophy to Psychotherapy
a Phenomenological Model for Psychology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis,
Toronto, Ontario, Buffalo, N.Y.: University of Toronto Press; Benner, Parti-
cia (1994): “The Tradition and Skill of Interpretive Phenomenology in
Studying Health, Illness, and Caring Practices”, in: Interpretative Phe-
nomenolog y, Embodiment, Caring, and Ethics in Health and Illness, editor:
Petricia B enner, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, pp. 99-127.
Husserl’s Discussion of “Kunstlehre”
Husserl raised a question in Prolegomena to Pure Logic of
4This saying is by Gadamer in his discussion on hermeneutics and rhetoric
as “Kunstlehre”, which however should be raised on the level of philosophia
regarding Aristotle’s practical philosophy. In: Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrhei
und Methode-Ergänzungen & Register, Tü
imgen: Mohr, 1986, S. 290.I am
to follow u
his Logical investigations: Is logic a theoretical or a practical
discipline (“Kunstlehre”)? Husserl’s idea of pure logic was a
“crystal-clear theory, wherein, the functions of all concepts and
sentences are fully intelligible, all presuppositions are exactly
analyzed, and are entirely raised above all theoretical doubt”5.
Nevertheless, is pure logic at the same time not a practical dis-
For Husserl, it is doubtless that logic, as a normative disci-
pline and theory of science, (Wissenschaftslehre) is certainly
“Kunstlehre”, as logic can be used to show truth or probability
that is otherwise hidden in knowledge, thus, logic is a technical
implement (künstliche Hilfsmittel)6. Further, logic investigates
what veritable and valid sciences should be, what constitutes
the idea of science, in order that we can measure whether the
empirical sciences correspond with, approach, or infringe upon
an idea. A method of that measure of logic is “Kunstlehre”7.
When logic is only a “Kunstlehre,” and not a “crystal-clear
theory,” it lies that the logic does not fill the condition of the
theory, as mentioned above, but, since pure logic is a theoreti-
cal discipline, is it a “Kunstlehre” as well? Although Husserl
aims at delineating a new, purely theoretical science, which is
nothing but pure logic, and it builds the “all-important founda-
tion for any “Kunstlehre” of scientific knowledge,”8 is the pure
logic itself, a “Kunstl e hre”?
The same question can be raised regarding Husserl’s discus-
sion of ethics. In Vorlsungen über Ethik und Wertlehre 1908-
1914, we see Husserl’s idea of pure ethics as the essential
foundation of “Kunstlehre” human actions; and this “Kunstle-
hre” refers to mere empirical ethics, or according to Husserl:
“the ethics which are regarded only as a technology (Technolo-
gie) that leans on psychology and biology.”9 Thus, we could
ask, on one hand, is ethics a theoretical discipline or “Kunstle-
hre,” and on the other hand, is pure ethics itself, a “Kunstle-
Husserl’s Einleitung in die Ethik, of the twenties, seemed to
provide a clear answer, as the ambiguity of his exposition of
“Kunstlehre” could be seen. It indicates, however, Husserl’s
idea of pure science is probably a form of “Kunstlehre”.
Husserl sees the problem as a simple differentiation between
“Kunstlehre” and theoretical science, as did Brentano; espe-
cially as the construct of this difference is created according to
the following criterion: “Kunstlehre” or practical discipline is
for practical interest, and theoretical science is for theoretical
interest. Serving a practical purpose, “Kunstlehre” brings het-
erogeneous forms of knowledge together; however, in the
theoretical science, the knowledge is united in a homogeneous
form. Nonetheless, there are ambiguity and vagueness in that
Since theoretical interest is an interest in the truth for the
sake of truth, is it not at the same time a practical interest, as it
aims at realizing the truth as a purpose, as any non-theoretical
interest does?11
Is “Kunstlehre” contrary to the concept of science? As tech-
nology, “Kunstlehre” is different from “Kunst” (technique), and
consists of a united system of sentences. The sentences refer to
the assignment of the means to the purpose, namely they refer
to the rules of applying a theory to praxis. “Kunstlehre” con-
tributes to the scientific foundation of these rules, and thus, can
be characterized as a science. Regarding the question whether
“Kunstlehre” is a science or not, or if we should further differ-
entiate theoretical and practical science, Husserl saw a vague-
ness in that discussion, and thought it originated in the ambigu-
ity of the concept of “Kunstlehre”12. This ambiguity causes
Brentano’s simple differentiation between “Kunstlehre” and
theoretical science, according to the criterion mentioned
According to Husserl, to clarify the ambiguity in the concept
of “Kunstlehre” is very important, because pure science, like
pure logic and pure ethics, can be justified and differentiated
from the “authentic ‘Kunstlehren’ of scientific knowledge and
ethical action” (underlined by author)14. In regard to this state-
ment, one could ask: Is pure science a “Kunstlehre,” in an in-
authentic sense? The answer seems to be “yes”, as we see by
Husserl’s clarification, a double sense (Doppelsinn) of the con-
cept of “Kunstlehre,” as shown by the following.
At first, “Kunstlehre” is purposed “to give scientifically
grounded advices, prescriptions, and practical rules”, and “does
not service theoretical knowledge,” as “its attitude is not theo-
retical,” whereas, “Kunstlehre” statements are “not theoretical
sentences,” but rather, are “a system of practical sentences.”15
Such words still refer to the “authentic Kunstlehren.”
However, Husserl guides us to conceive “Kunstlehre” in an-
other sense, by way of the following considerations: As a real
scientific discipline, “Kunstlehre” has a deep foundation in an a
priori position. Hence, every theoretical statement can be a
priori changed into a practical; conversely, every practical sen-
tence can be changed into theoretical16.
In this regard, Husserl declares “Kunstlehre” “in a new
sense”, namely “in the sense of true and pure scientific disci-
plines.”17 The context of Husserl’s discussion manifests the
following; He emphasizes “Kunstlehre” in a sense of pure sci-
ence in order to show that, on one hand, “Kunstlehrer” not only
thinks of practical advices, but can also pursue “its own theo-
retical totality of truths that are related to the practical the-
mes;”18 on the other hand, he wants to show us that pure theory
is “out of its own desire,” also theory of praxis19. Above all,
and in essence, Husserl shows: “(…) Just pure science in limit-
less theoretical interest, and carelessly oversees all practical
claims, and afterwards qualifies supreme triumph over practical
As result, Husserl claimed in Prolegomena to Pure Logic
and Einleitung in die Ethik that, pure logic or pure ethics can
encompass the whole possible praxis regarding logical or ethi-
cal disciplines21. Naturally, in his early Vorlesungen über Ethik
5Husserl, E.: Logische Untersuchungen I: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik,
Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1980, S. 10.
6Ibid. S. 16; he re we see a simple definition of logic a s “Kunstlehre”.
7Ibid. S. 26; here we see another concrete definition of logic as “Kunstle-
8Ibid. S. 8.
9Husserl, E.: Vorlesungen über Ethik und Wertlehre, 1908-1914, Hua.
XXVIII, Hrsg.: U l l rich Melle, Dordrecht/Boston: Klu wer, 1988, S. 13.
10Husserl, E.: Einleitung in die Ethik : Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1920/
1924, Hua. XXXVII, Hrsg.: Peucker, H., Dordrecht, The Netherlands/Bos-
ton, Mass.: Kluwer Aca demic Publishers, 2004, S. 13-1 5.
11Ibid. S. 16.
12Ibid. S. 18-19.
13Ibid. S. 15-16.
14Ibid. S. 19.
15Ibid. S, 20-21.
16Ibid. S. 21-22.
17Ibid. S. 23.
18Ibid. S. 22.
19Ibid. S. 25.
20Ibid. S. 26.
21Husserl, E.: Logische Untersuchu ng en I: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik, S.
227ff.; E. Husserl : Einleitung in die Ethik, S. 30-32.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 309
und Wertlehre, Husserl had already declared the idea of the
pure ethics22.
At this point, I want to make the following remark on Vorle-
sungen über Ethik und Wertlehre. There are some critiques of
this work, who believe that Husserl emphasizes too much on
the formal axiology and formal ethics, as he treated it by a
comparison with the formal logic, and neglects discussions
regarding material axiology and ethics23. However, we must
understand that formal ethics is nothing more than pure ethics,
and can be regarded as a “Kunstlehre” sense of pure science;
while material ethics are “Kunstlehre” in another sense. In his
early Vorlesungen, Husserl aimed at developing pure ethics,
which however, encompassed material ethics, and hence we can
read in text, that neither idealistic ethics nor empirical ethics
can be characterized as pure ethics. Pure ethics accepts com-
plete, rather than only parts, of understanding and feeling, and
how both parts are synthesized is the point of Husserl’s treat-
ment of pure ethics24. It is related to how the double senses of
“Kunstlehre” are clarified and established; therefore, we should
take notice of the synthesis of both senses of “Kunstlehre,”
rather than simply making a critique, as mentioned above.
Husserl’s emphasis on the pure science originates in Aris-
totle’s evaluation of the theoría, which is the supreme level of
the natural purpose through the development of form from
matter. I prefer to understand “Kunstlehre” as an instruction of
how “Kunst” in the sense of technique becomes “Kunst” in the
sense of fine art. Technique (téchne) is contrary to nature
(phýsis), whereas, fine art is a quasi-nature, and is, according to
Kant’s Critique of Judgment, “A product of fine art must be
recognized as technique and not nature. Nevertheless, the final-
ity in its form must appear just as free from the constraint of
arbitrary rules as if it were a product of mere nature.”25
The “Kunstlehre,” in a double sense, corresponds to the in-
struction of “Kunst” as technique, as well as “Kunst” as fine art,
or, as a quasi-nature or nature of “as if.” Regarding “Kunstle-
hre” as pure ethics, how can it be understood as the nature of
“as if”? It is also based on Aristotle’s thoughts of ethics.
In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle pointed out that moral
virtue is neither “engendered by nature” nor “contrary to na-
ture.”26 Moral virtue results from the formation of good habits.
It is not a feeling like being (páthos) directly engendered by
nature, but is an actualization of our potential faculties (dýna-
mis); it requires a learning process, guided by human reasoning,
in order that good habits are settled, and become our natural
state, which is called hexis. Virtue belongs to the category of
hexis; this nature state is our second nature, and is neither en-
gendered by nature, n or contrary t o nature27.
The above statement, “guided by human reason,” is accord-
ing to Aristotle’s words: human “deliberation” and “choice”
“lie in our power.”28 Guiding or even overcoming our desires,
which lie in our power, with time can become a habit. It is in
view of moral virtues that direct the formation of good habits.
In another view, all moral virtues are guided by practical, intel-
lectual virtues, and these are nothing more than prudence
(phrónesis)29. The phrónesis self is a higher level of our natural
state, which also results from the formation of good habits.
However, habits are not material; they are formal in regard to
the abilities of individual judgment. Riccardo Dottori, in his
article “The Concept of Phrónesis by Aristotle and the Begin-
ning of Hermeneutic Philosophy,” states, “(…) it (phrónesis) is
a continuous exercise, a habitus which needs to be acquired
with time.”30 He also pointed out that phrónesis means “being
able to judge.”31 “Kunstlehre” as pure ethics is related to
phrónesis, which is an important issue in Gadamer’s conception
of “Kunstlehre.”
Gadamer’s Discussion of “Kunstlehre”
In Truth and Method, Gadamer introduced us to a concept of
“Kunstlehre,” as follows: “Kunstlehre” serves the technique of
understanding (Kunst des Verstehens) through theoretical re-
flection; we found it regarded such understanding of philologi-
cal texts of historical times, and of theological text in the times
of Patristic and Reformation. Regarding this task, hermeneutics
of philology and theology is a “Kunstlehre.” Schleiermacher
names his hermeneutics as “Kunstlehre,” and “in another total
systematic sense.” His hermeneutics not only serve the praxis
of philologist and theologians; it aims at gaining a theoretical
foundation of the hermeneutic treatment that is common to the
all philologist and theologians32.
To explain Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics, or “Kunstlehre”,
in a new sense is not the topic of this paper, but obviously,
Schleiermacher offered theoretical reflection on the technique
of understanding at a higher level than previously presented.
According to Husserl’s discussion of “Kunstlehre” in a double
sense, Schleiermacher’s conception touches on “Kunstlehre” in
the sense of pure science, however, it seems not far enough for
Gadamer aims at grounding philosophical hermeneutics,
which aim lies in the theoretical reflection on the technique of
understanding at a much higher level than by Schleiermacher.
The point is that a self-critique is exercised regarding our un-
derstanding of others33. As a result, Gadamer offers an impor-
tant statement: “Understanding means at first understanding
each other. (Vertstehen heißt zunächst, sich miteinander vers-
tehen.);” in other words: “Understanding is at first agreement.
(Verständnis is zunächst Einverständnis).”34 Thus, the term
sensus communis, for Gadamer, is the principle of his philoso-
phical hermeneutics or conception of “Kunstlehre” in the sense
of pure science, as mentioned by Husserl. We will see that
Gadamer’s conception of “Kunstlehre” is based on ethical
22Husserl, E.: Vorlesungen über Ethik und Wertlehre, S. 13.
23Melle, U.: “Edmund Husserl: From Reason to Love”, in: J. J. Drummond
and L. Embree (Ed.): Phenomenological Approach to Moral Philosophy:
andbook, Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002,
pp. 229-248; Donohoet, J.: Husserl on Ethics and Intersubjectivity:From
Static to Genetic Phenomenology, New York: Humanity Books, 2004, pp.
24Ibid. S. 60-69.
25Kant, I.: Kritik der Urteilskraft, Hrsg.: K. Vorländer, Hamburg: Meiner,
1974, S. 159.
26Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics, translated by J.A.K. Thomson, Eng-
land: Pengu i n , 2004, 1103a, 20-26.
27Ibid. 1103a 16-20; 1105b 20-1106a 25; and see A.K. Thomson’s interpre-
tation of hexis, p. 311.
28Ibid. 1113a 2-4, 11-12.
29Ibid. 1177 a 10-14.
30Dottori, R.: “The Concept of Phronesis by Aristotle and the Beginning o
Hermeneutic Philosophy”, in: Etica & Politica/Ethics & Politics, XI, 2009,
1, pp. 301-310, p. 307.
31Ibid. P. 301.
32Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, Tübimgen: M o hr, 1990, S. 182.
33Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Erg änzungen & Register, S. 116.
34Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, S. 183.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
meanings, as related to the concept of phrónesis.
Gadamer reminds us to note that the dialectic of Plato is
“Kunstlehre;” however, it is different from “Kunstlehre” as
professional knowledge (Fachwissen) or mathematical science,
as the dialectic inquires after the real being or the highest
good35. Gadamer also makes it clear that the practical knowl-
edge (phrónesis) of Aristotle is neither technical knowledge
(téchne) nor theoretical knowledge, as phrónesis is practice-
oriented, and therefore, is a reflection upon specific rules of
human and social practices, thus, practical knowledge is in the
form of “general” and “theoretical”36.
The difference between phrónesis and téchne is precisely
analyzed by Gadamer, and he regards it as a “kind of model of
problems that lie in hermeneutic tasks.”37 The point is: herme-
neutics is like phrónesis, not the simple application of an al-
ready possessed general theory to a specific concrete situation,
as if we could interpret a text by the application of a general
meaning, or behave according to the application of a general
ethical knowledge, relevant to our specific situation; however,
we are always in individual and specific situations. There is no
temporal distance between a pre-given general theory and its
application to a concrete situation, as without the concrete
situation, it is nothing more than ethical knowledge or the in-
terpretation of a meaningless text38.
Hence, Gadamer pointed out that, ethical knowledge cannot
be learned, if we define learning as determined by a theory that
is independent of the situation. Ethical knowledge cannot act as
a pre-given general theory and determine an individual behav-
ior in a situation, and is, contrarily, demanded by the individual
in an individual situation39. Ethical knowledge does not refer to
an object outside the individual; rather, it belongs to the indi-
vidual40, regarding the individual’s existence. Dottori says, “It
is not possible to learn how to exist. Phrónesis is, therefore,
everybody’s rational reflection on what is useful for himself,
what serves for their life.”41
Further, because ethical knowledge is not an objective theory,
as an end goal in the case of technical knowledge, which can be
reached by us through some right means, there is no clear dif-
ference between end and means regarding ethical knowledge.
Such character is already manifested in Aristotle’s determina-
tion of phrónesis. Ethical knowledge includes means and end,
as it deals with the rightly living self in general, and is the same
knowledge present in all individual situations to answer. To
differentiate ethical knowledge and individual experience is
Gadamer pointed out that Aristotle, in The Nicomachean
Ethics, mentions the concept of “understanding” (sýnesis): “Un-
derstanding is set up as a modification of the virtue of ethical
knowledge, so far as it here does not refer to myself. Hence,
sýnesis’ clearly means the ability of ethical judgment.”43 Aris-
totle stated precisely that a sphere, which sýnesis and phrónesis
deal with, is the same, but they are not the same, “because pru-
dence is imperative (…), and understanding only makes judg-
ments.”44 For the former deals with ethical knowledge, while
the later with theoretical, technical, and ethical knowledge.
If we take further notice of Aristotle’s words, we can deter-
mine what Gadamer discussion intended to express; in Dot-
tori’s words, “Hermeneutics is possible only on the basis of
phrónesis.45 Understanding has little to do with phrónesis, as
on one hand, it can relate to technical and theoretical knowl-
edge; while on the other hand, it can be a poor understanding.
However, when people are referred to as “good at understand-
ing,” or having “sympathetic,” and even “mature” judgment,
they are at the same time called “prudent.”46 Thus, Gadamer
offers a statement in a similar sense, “We obviously praise the
understanding of someone, if he (she) by judgment puts himself
(herself) in the full concrete position where he (she) has to
act.”47 A good understanding presupposes the agreement.
The discussion above manifests that Gadamer makes a deep
theoretical reflection on the technique of understanding, and it
is based on the concept of phrónesis. However, just as the
question is raised: “Is phrónesis different from téchne, a “Kun-
stlehre” in a special sense?” so is to ask: Is Gadamer’s herme-
neutics self a “Kunstlehre”, when it is distinguished from the
traditional hermeneutics as “Kunstlehren”?
We can see the dialectic by Plato is “Kunstlehre.” Gadamer
shows Aristotle differentiates among theoretical science, téchne,
and phrónesis, however, he points out that Aristotle really has
not given in to understanding phrónesis as a “Kunstlehre.” For
example: Aristotle names practical philosophy as poietike phi-
Gadamer emphasizes that rhetoric is not only a technique,
but a philosophy of human life. Aristotle’s conception origi-
nally followed Plato’s dialog Phaidros. Plato stressed here that
a rhetorician must know where and when (also how) he should
speak49. It manifests again the importance of a situation, as
mentioned above, individual situations demand and answer
ethical knowledge, or a good understanding lies in that when
we put ourselves in the full concrete situation where we have to
act, or, a deep theoretical reflection on the technique of under-
standing explica t e s “Und e r s t anding is at first agreement.”
This shows that the concept, which Gadamer called scopus,
plays an essential role for understanding and rhetoric, and
naturally for phrónesis. Scopus (Germany: Gesichtspunkt; Eng-
lish: viewpoint) refers to a text or a speech, to our actions re-
garding topos and kairos, or situations as a whole50. The proc-
ess of formation of understanding, rhetoric and phrónesis is the
same. However, the former two are based on the latter. Herme-
neutics and rhetoric stand in a closed relationship51. If neither is
mere “Kunstlehren” in the technical sense, but “Kunstlehre” in
the philosophical sense, it lies in that they are based on the
concept of phrónesis. Phrónesis self is also a “Kunstlehre,” for
it results from the formation of good habits, to be able to judge.
Therefore, Dottori would like to translate “Kunstlehre” as
35Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Ergänzungen & Register, S.252,
36Ibid. S. 252-253.
37Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, S. 329.
38Ibid. S. 318, 322.
40Ibid. S. 319-321.
41Dottori, R.: “The Concept of Phronesis by Aristotle and the Beginning o
Hermeneutic Philosophy”, p. 306.
42Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, S. 326-328.
43Ibid. 328.
44Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics, 1143a, 9-10.
45Dottori, R.: “The Concept of Phronesis by Aristotle and the Beginning o
Hermeneutic Philosophy”, p. 309.
46Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics, 1143a, 12-28.
47Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, S. 328.
48Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Ergänzungen & Register, S. 291.
49Ibid. S. 307.
50Ibid. S. 255, 259, 282, 286, 296, 309.
51Ibid. S. 305.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 311
“competence.”52 However, this “being able to” is not a potential
ability (dýnamis), but a concrete natural state (hexis), because it
has been exercised and constituted. It should be also valid for
the competence of herm eneutics and rhetoric.
Phrónesis and Applied Phenomenology
As mentioned above, there are several research methods in
applied phenomenology, and there are often discussions re-
garding whether an appropriate method actually exists. The
difficulty lies in that, first, the research method is neither a
technique, nor the reflection on it a “Kunstlehre” in the techni-
cal sense. Secondly, the meaning, which any research topic
seeks, is not through an application of a pre-given general the-
ory to a specific situation where the researcher stays.
On the contrary, every applied phenomenologist must always
be aware that their individual situation is not separated from the
constitution of the wanted meaning; thus, experience and
gained meaning are not separable. In this situation, the re-
searcher asks for or demands the meaning; Gadamer said there
is a form of “seeing”, but not a sensuous53. It is like Husserl’s
or Heidegger’s categorical intuition or eidetic intuition. How-
ever, according to Gadamer, the process of “fusion of horizons”
(Horizontverschmelzung)54 seems to be characterized as a way
of “seeing,” which shows the way of understanding, namely
understanding of each other, or an agreement between two in-
dividuals. It also reflects on practical research, by way of the
researcher (e.g. therapist) and the research focus (e.g. patient),
which co-exist in a common concrete situation (regarding topos
and kairos), where they start to co-constitute the meaning of a
certain theme.
In this sense, we see that Edwin L. Hersch, in From Phi-
losophy to Psychotherapy, shows us a co-constitutional and in-
teractional human experience model, namely “Beams-of- Light-
through-Time”. He tries to describe the human experience as,
“always experienced in a time-context within which our phe-
nomenological worlds are constantly unfolding, expanding, and
restructuring.” Thus, therapist and patient are situated, on one
hand, in their own dynamic world experience, and on the other
hand, in their experiences of each other since their encounter.
The experience of others endlessly increases its content and
meaning, as this experience is not determined with a fixed
worldview, but is in continuous development accompanied by
the expanding world experience. Thus, he says, “Each of the
participants is continuously in a co-constituting relationship to
his or her experiential world as a whole, as well as in relation-
ship with the other.”55
Hersch indicated an appropriate phenomenological research
method, even though it cannot be used as the absolute objective
model, it is the main point seeking awareness of being free
from the determination of a pre-given theory, and how we can
put ourselves in a common situation with others. This paper
stresses that this process constitutes the formation of phrónesis,
which hermeneutics and rhetoric are based on. In fact, Heideg-
ger’s analysis of the care (Sorge) structure in Sein und Zeit is an
interpretation of phrónesis. Gadamer follows with the defini-
tion of phrónesis as “the watchfulness care for oneself (die
Wachsamkeit der Sorge um sich selbst).”56 His discussion re-
garding distinguished ethical knowledge, as mentioned above,
is also his interpretation of phrónesis. Was Husserl regards as
“Kunstlehre” in the sense of pure ethics and further discusses in
his Ethics Lectures, manifests many ideas in relation to Aris-
totle’s concept of phrónesis57.
In a similar context, this paper turns to Kant, who originally
attempts to expose the concept of phrónesis, presented by two
concepts: determinant judgment and reflective judgment. It is
no wonder that Hannah Arendt regarded Kantian reflective
judgment and Aristotle’s phrónesis as the same thing58. This
paper suggests that reflective judgment can realize phrónesis,
explained through an old psychiatric tale, as told by Hersch.
The tale refers to two brothers, Joe and Bob, in a psychiatric
praxis. Joe explains to the psychiatrist that Bob seems to be
delusional, and insists that he is already dead. Bob tells the
psychiatrist that he is dead, because all his feeling have stopped,
as has his heart, and his blood has ceased to flow. Impatiently,
Joe reaches into his pocket for a pen knife and jabs it into Bob’s
hand. While Bob looks down at his hand as the blood begins to
well up and spread, Joe angrily asks him, “You see the blood.
Now do you still think you’re dead?” Bob calmly tells the psy-
chiatrist: “I never would’ve believed it. Dead men do bleed!”59
This tale reveals food for thought. Regarding Bob’s words,
he is dead because his blood has ceased to flow, the psychiatrist
would cure Bob’s delusion by way of Joe’s method. He hopes
that when Bob sees the blood, he could correct his delusion that
he is dead. Naturally, the method of cure is naïve; however, this
naïve cure method presupposes the truth theory of correspon-
dence, which is at the epistemological level. Just as at this level
Bob said dead men do not bleed. It follows: “do not bleed”
corresponds to “dead men,” however, in the end it cannot ex-
clude that “do bleed” corresponds to “dead men.”
We must notice that the epistemological level still lies in an
ontological fundamental. The delusion, he is dead, referring to
his situation, has an ontological fundamental. We should ask
what this fundamental, namely what his delusion in general is.
A psychiatric praxis is often something presupposed, which
causes the psychiatrist to construct a determinant judgment and
cure practice. In this case, what determines the psychiatrist to
judge and to cure is the truth theory of correspondence, and
according to Hersch’s analysis, the “realist-dualist-objectivist-
correspondence” position60. In this position, Joe cannot argue
against Bob’s answer: “Dead men do bleed!” In fact, Bob him-
self believes that the two sentences; “Dead men do not bleed”
and “Dead men do bleed” do not contradict each other, because
he makes those judgments under a “realist-dualist-subjectivist-
coherence” position61, which also lies in the ontological funda-
56Dottori, R.: “The Concept of Phronesis by Aristotle and the Beginning o
Hermeneutic Philosophy”, p. 306.
57I have in my article (Wang, Wen-Sheng: “Relationship between Husserl’s
early ethics and Aristotle’s ethics” [in Chinese], in: NCCU Philosophica
ournal, Vol. 18, 2007 July, pp. 1-28.) showed that relationship between
them regarding three issues: 1. Husserl’s characterizes ethics as “Kunstle-
hre”; 2. Husserl argues that the judgment of values springs from affection; 3.
Husserl differentiates the concept of “will” from that of “wish”. It manifests
some ideas of the concept of phrónesis. See NCCU Philosophical Journal,
Vol. 18, 2007 July, pp. 1-28.
58Arendt. H.: “The Crisis in Culture: Its Social and Its Political Significance”
in: Judgment, Imagination, and Politics: Themes from Kant and Arendt,
ew York, Oxford etc.: Roman &Littlefield Publishers INC., 2001, pp. 3-25
p. 20.
59Hersch, Edwin L.: From Philosophy to Psyc hotherapy, p. 97.
60Ibid. p. 126.
61Ibid. p. 127.
52Dottori, R.: “The Concept of Phronesis by Aristotle and the Beginning o
Hermeneutic Philosophy”, p. 309.
53Gadamer, H.-G.: Wahrheit und Methode-Grundzüge einer philosophischen
ermeneutik, S. 327.
54Ibid. S. 312, 380, etc.
55Hersch, Edwin L.: From Philosophy to Psyc hotherapy, pp. 133-136.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 313
mental. How can be such “Kunstlehre” be applied to a practical re-
search? This paper shows a contribution by Hersch as an exam-
ple, through a psychiatric tale, this author’s consideration, and
by way of Kantian reflective judgment, explains how phrónesis
is actualized in a case study.
According to Kant, we have to make reflection on our cogni-
tive faculties (Erkenntnisvermögen)62. In this case, the psychia-
trist should reflect which cognitive faculties determined his
earlier judgment and treatment, which is the “realist-dualist-
objectivist-correspondence”/“realist-dualist-subjectivist-coher- Kunstslehre” is a process of exercise with time, where we
learn how to respect others, and how we understand and agree
with each other. Sensus communis is an ethical term, and a
principle (arché) of Gadamer’s hermeneutics, beginning in the
sense of dýnamis, and to realize hexis requires exercise and
learning. It is the process of the formation of phrónesis. “Kun-
stlehre” in this sense, is both the process and result, the means
and end, as it is continuously under way.
ence” position. Based on Heidegger’s fundamental ontology
and Gadamer’s hermeneutics, Hersch presents a “realist-non-
dualistic-co-constitutional-hermeneutics” position63. Under this
position, the psychiatrist can put himself in a common situation
shared with Bob, his brother Joe, and maybe his family, etc.
Together, they continuously co-constitute the meaning “Bob is
dead”, and the way of healing emerges from the meaning,
which should also be in a c o nt i n uous process.
Some termini shown here cannot be further explained. It is
not the aim of this article to exactly demonstrate how e.g.
Gadamer’s hermeneutics is applied to a practical case. This
paper regards this psychiatric tale, and a reflection upon it, to
show that the Kantian reflective judgment helps us to realize
Aristotle’s concept of phrónesis. Take note, however, that
phrónesis as a habitual “being able to judge” needs “a continu-
ous exercise”. A continuous awareness of making reflective
judgments, and avoiding determinant judgments, seems able to
concretize this exercise. In addition, remember Gadamer’s
words, “Understanding means at first understanding each other
or agreement.” It implies to this author a kind of virtue, namely
“respect for others.” As putting ourselves in a situation shared
with others would realize our understanding of each other, thus,
some phanomenologists directly re gard the “situate dness” (put-
ting ourselves in the situation) as a kind of virtue. It is actually
based on the connection between ethos and Dasein, according
to Heidegger’s thinking.
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This paper attempts to clarify the ambiguity or double sense
of “Kunstlehre” by Husserl and Gadamer. Pure science, which
is in the form of either pure logic or pure ethics, by Husserl, is
regarded by the author as “Kunstlehre,” but is distinguished
from “Kunstlehre” in th e technical sense.
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The author sees “Kunstlehre” in a sense of pure science,
originated in Aristotle’s evaluation of theoría, and understood
“Kunstlehre” as fine art, or as the nature or quasi-nature of “as
if”, and according to Kant’s idea. Aristotle’s concept of phró-
nesis is also a kind of natural “as if”, especi ally as phrónesis is
“a habitus, which is acquired with time”. In this sense, phróne-
sis can be considered as “Kunstlehre”.
Husserl, E. (2004). Einleitung in die Ethik : Vorlesungen Sommerse-
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Gadamer’s high level or deep theoretical reflection on the
“Kunst” of understanding brings about his philosophical her-
meneutics, which begins with the words, “Understanding means
at first understanding each other or agreement.” It is actualized
by “putting ourselves in a situation shared with others”. The
word “situation” is compared by Gadamer with scopus. Both
hermeneutics and rhetoric in the philosophical sense are based
on the evaluation of scopus. This constitutes the formation of
the two, naturally of phrónesis, which founds the former of the
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62Kant, I.: Kritik der Urteilsk raft, S. 260.
63Hersch, Edwin L.: From Philosophy to Psyc hotherapy, p. 132.