Verstehen: Method of Interpretative Understanding

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Method of Interpretative Understanding



What is the method of sociological analysis?  how to make a scientific understanding of social actions? For this the method which Weber presented was called ‘Verstehen’ in his German language. Due to the absence of a clear English or Hindi synonym for the German word ‘watless’, it is often

It becomes difficult to translate. But in general terms, the wordless means ‘Understanding’ or ‘Insight’. The German philosophical school had already used a term ‘Hermeneutics’, which meant to understand the meaning of the action of a subject by putting oneself in its place and knowing the reality.

Influenced by Dilthey, Weber used the term ‘hermeneutics’ instead of ‘wat without’ for a method by which human behavior could be studied scientifically. In general terms, it can be said that just as an artist has to understand an artwork by placing himself in the position of the painter, or as a mental therapist understands the personality of a person through a deep vision, In the same way, speechless is such a method by which a researcher tries to make an interpretive understanding of his actions by placing himself in the position of the actor.

Clarifying this, Charles Cole ( C. H. Cocley ) wrote , ” Healing is the method of study by which a learner can engage himself in the thoughts and feelings of the person doing the action through contact and communication . brings into his mental state in such a way that a particular behavior can be understood in terms of his thoughts and meanings.



Thus weightless is a special method of interpretive understanding of human behavior or social action. Weber thinks that the main subject of sociological study is the causal explanation of activities and consequences related to social activities. Thus social actions determine all human behaviour. It means that if we want to understand human behavior then it is necessary to understand the real meaning of actions of individuals. The reality is that human behavior also plays an important role in creating various social situations, so the reality of human behavior can be understood only through the understanding of social actions. In this regard, Weber’s view is that some social actions are so simple and clear that there is no special need to understand them.

But there are some actions whose external form is not clear. Without understanding the meaning and purpose of such activities in their intrinsic form, one cannot understand the conditions that arise through social activities. Thus, for sociological analysis, it is necessary that those purposes or meanings contained in various social activities are understood and then they clarify the point of view of the subject. Clarifying his statement, Weber said that for each subject, the action he performs has a special meaning.

This meaning not only clarifies its goals and means, but in the context of this it can also be understood that keeping in mind what values ​​a particular action was taken. Thus, in order to understand human actions, it is necessary to understand the intentions of the subject which are related to the action. This means that in the field of social action, we need to understand not only the comparative position of the interacting persons, but also the actual or potential behavior of each other in relation to which they act. Is . This is what Weber called ‘Subjective Understanding’ of social action. According to Weber, this subjective perception is a characteristic that cannot be found in the natural sciences. In the natural sciences, the laws that we make on the basis of similarities or dissimilarities of some phenomena; They explain the events on the basis of them.

In contrast, sociological knowledge is concerned with the subjective perception of actions or events that is understood in terms of the motives and motives of the interacting persons. This does not mean that natural science is flawed or that sociology is flawed. In this sense it is superior to the natural sciences. It only means that those studies in sociology can also be done by the methodless method, which are completely lacking in the natural sciences. Thus it is clear that by meaningless, Weber means Motivational Understanding.

It is the method by which the subject’s actions are explained in the context of the meaning imposed by him. If the mechanism of this method is explained in a sequence, then through this the meanings inherent in social actions and their effects on social conditions can be easily understood. Every social action is performed by the actor due to the effect or experience of a particular event. When an event affects a person, the person first evaluates its impact. Thereafter, he begins to outline his behavior with reference to his past experiences, present interests and certain values. According to the way in which he evaluates the effect of events, some purpose or meaning of his behavior also starts to develop in the mind of the doer.

In both, it can be said that if he considers the effect of an event favorable for him, then he accepts it, whereas if this effect is unfavourable, he does not want to be affected by it. In this way, keeping in view the prevailing conditions and his means, a particular action is performed by the doer which has a special meaning and purpose for him. This action is not only affected by the earlier conditions but also produces changes in the circumstances itself. According to Weber, keeping all these aspects of the action in mind, when social actions are discussed according to the meaning taken by the subject, then this is called Bustless. This method makes it clear that any social action is not absolute but it is an instrument of some goal. In the context of Weber, this formula of the process of explanatory understanding can be understood as follows: Evaluation of effect, effect on individual, situation, action, determination of means according to interests and values, effect on circumstances. Purpose is clear in such a way that the Worst Hein method two In this way social behavior contributes to the scientific study of harms: first, it helps to understand the subjective meaning of human actions through direct observation, and secondly, through it the motives of any action can be understood.

Explaining this, MacIver wrote that if we want to know why the citizens of a country oppose their government, why workers in a factory go on strike, or that the members of a tribal group share their religious beliefs with We have to put ourselves in those situations in which citizens, workers or tribal people behaved in a particular way. In this regard, it will be necessary to know those social values, motives and purposes which are active in a particular situation.

It is this inner perception that Weber considers necessary for the explanatory understanding of social action. In the analysis of social phenomena, the method of explanatory perception that Weber considered as essential, two elements are prominent: first, evaluation of situations by the subject, and second, the actual intention or purpose of the subject behind the action. (Intention). For how these two elements can be understood in different types of social action, Weber mentioned two main systems which can be understood as follows:




(1) Rational Understanding – When we clearly understand on an intellectual basis the meaning and purpose put by the subject behind the action and all the elements of the action (i.e. its circumstances, means, goals and effects) so that appears to be genuinely authentic, then it is called rational perception. The main relation of such understanding is with logical actions. According to Weber, rational comprehension can also be divided into two parts, namely, comprehension and mathematical comprehension. Logical Understanding is that by which we try to understand by what means a subject performs a particular action under a particular situation and how that action affects the existing circumstances. It means that this system of cognition emphasizes on understanding the nature of social actions and their causes and consequences on the basis of logic. Mathematical Understanding is the method that helps to understand the actions through intelligence that are clear and coherent like math problems. Just as 2×2 = 4 is a clear form, so many actions are such that they not only conform to the expectations of other people, but there is no confusion between their goals and means according to the situation. All such actions can be easily understood on the basis of rationality or logic.


(2) Emotionally Empathic Under Standing – This system of perception of social actions is one by which we try to understand the emotional perspective under which an action is performed by the subject. In fact, the emotional context of the action is so important that without understanding it the real purpose and effect of an action cannot be understood. This emotional context cannot be understood by reason, nor is ordinary observation sufficient for it.

Real understanding of social actions in the condition is possible only when on the basis of feeling we try to understand the actions of the doer by establishing our identity with the feeling (paranubhuti). Through this method, the closer we try to come closer to the feelings of the subject, the better it can be understood that with what impulse, such as love, hatred, jealousy, anger, enthusiasm, loyalty, devotion or curiosity. more affected and what supernatural behavior is arising as a result of them. If the emotions influencing social action are so deep that the learner cannot fully understand them, even then, through an understanding dependent on empathy, one can understand their meaning and their effects on social action to some extent.

. Weber has considered two other methods of realization as important for any social action, whether it is done by reasoning or it can be obtained with reference to the experience of the subject. Weber called it perceptual perception through direct observation. Direct Observational Understanding is that by which a researcher, with the help of direct observation, tries to understand the purpose of the subject’s thoughts and actions on a so-called basis. For example, in case of communal tension or conflict, real understanding of various social activities can be done only through direct observation.

Weber has also called Explanatory Understanding ‘Relational Understanding of Motivation’. It means that critical understanding is the method by which one understands the study on a logical basis by analyzing the reasons related to a social action and understands it in the context of the meaning assigned by the subject.

In other words, it can be said that when we try to know on a logical basis that which conditions or circumstances inspired the subject to do a particular action and what is the real purpose of that action of the subject, then we can understand such a feeling. It’s called ‘critical perception’. For example, when we understand that a person was able to conduct his business activities in a very logical and responsible manner because he believed in Protestant ethics, then such an understanding is called critical understanding. Thus it becomes clear that Worst Hein is that method of study which explains an action on authentic basis in terms of ‘evaluation’ and ‘purpose’ of the subject.

This method does not ask hypothetically to participate in the personality or experiences of the subject, as Weber wrote that “to understand Caesar it is not necessary that we become Caesar ourselves. This means that the use of the weightless does not necessarily require becoming a part of the experience of the doer. Rather, it requires a generalized knowledge that relates to the experiences and purposes of the doer. While highlighting the usefulness of the weightless, Weber described it as Two major functions are also mentioned.

First, explanatory understanding is necessary because social actions are meaningful and no sociological analysis can be meaningful unless their meaning is understood in the context of the evaluation and purpose made by the subject. Secondly, explanatory comprehension is the main source for formulation of hypotheses in sociological studies. In other words, it can be said that the childless is the only method by which sociological theories can be developed after getting proper knowledge of social actions.




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