Kenneth Reynhout's "Interdisciplinary Interpretation": Reynhout on Pannenberg
Initially Pannenberg appears be a promising resource for Reynhout, since Pannenberg uses "hermeneutical philosophy" to engage the sciences and to develop the “argument that theology is a science” (9). As was mentioned in the first post, Reynhout has also chosen to use hermeneutical philosophy to help him think through interdisciplinary concerns. To understand how Pannenberg uses philosophy, Reynhout lays out his response to "philosophies of science common in the analytic tradition" and "philosophies of the historical sciences that utilize hermeneutical or dialectical models" (9).
For Pannenberg's engagement with the analytic tradition, Reynhout discusses Pannenberg's evaluation of Karl Popper (9-11). Popper had the "desire to solve the so-called demarcation problem, the quest for a rule that clearly separates scientific from non-scientific (or metaphysical) statements," and leaned on "falsification" to do so (10). For Pannenberg however this actually opens the door to metaphysics in more than one way, the fact that it "depends on a metaphysical view of truth as correspondence" being one example (10). Furthermore, falsification makes Popper's goal of "a single scientific method impossible," since "historical sciences" cannot be pursued in that way (10-1).
For the hermeneutical and dialectical models, we turn to Wilhelm Dilthey (11-3). Unlike Popper, Dilthey worked out of "the underlying psychology of the scientist," arguing "the human sciences require an understanding or descriptive psychology . . . [while] the natural sciences require an explanatory or analytic philosophy" (11-2). According to Reynhout Pannenberg relates Dilthey's "explanation and understanding" to "parts and wholes"; "explanation prioritizes parts over wholes, whereas understanding prioritizes wholes over parts" (12). Explanation deals with “particulars,” and according to Reynhout’s reading of Pannenberg the "basic structure of fitting individual parts into total patterns of meaning is common to explanation across scientific disciplines, natural and human, and also to the disciplines of philosophy and theology" (12-3). Therefore theology is a science for Pannenberg, with "the 'totality of reality' as its framework of meaning" (13). In the initial post on Reynhout's book it was shown that he also wants to think in terms of explanation and understanding, so again Pannenberg's view seems promising (cf. 14).
However Pannenberg stumbles for Reynhout when he "denies a role for hermeneutics in the natural sciences" (13). Apparently for Pannenberg the natural sciences operate independently of "a unique, historical context," so there is no need for "interpretation" (13-4). Reynhout hints that he will deal with this issue further later in the book (14; also cf. intro). There is one other criticism to note as Reynhout concludes his analysis. Essentially, for Reynhout Pannenberg's approach lacks specificity, with "distinctiveness of scientific practices" left to the side (14).
There is more nuance to Reynhout's reading of Pannenberg than I have been able to give here, so be sure to check out his reading of Pannenberg, but also of Tracy, van Huyssteen, and Barbour. There's a lot more material worth your time in this chapter, but hopefully this post gives a taste of it. Lastly, I've spent some time working with Pannenberg, and I commend Reynhout's brief analysis, as I learned from it and have a better understanding of what Pannenberg is up to.
(Click here for Part 1 in this series)