Dr. Ranilo Hermida: Complementing teaching through research

August 17, 2015
For 15 years now, Dr. Ranilo Hermida has been teaching Ateneans the philosophical foundations of moral values through the works of Confucius, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and other thinkers. His passion for philosophy has brought him beyond the walls of the classroom. Using the philosopher Jürgen Habermas’ political framework, Hermida authored Imagining Modern Democracy: A Habermasian Assessment of the Philippine Experiment, which was published by the State University of New York (SUNY) Press in December 2014.

As the title suggests, Imagining Modern Democracy: A Habermasian Assessment of the Philippine Experiment is an attempt to analyze the political reality in Philippine society today using the framework of Habermas’ theory of law and democracy. 

“The critical theory of Jürgen Habermas, which is the framework I used in my book and other research work, is an engagement of philosophy with sociology and other allied sciences. It is at once, and essentially, an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge. Habermas adheres to the view that philosophy must be at the service of freedom, not to remain in the level of contemplation but must initiate action towards human emancipation,” said Hermida.

Hermida added that the idea for the book came about when his supervisor in Monash University in Australia (where he completed his PhD in Philosophy) challenged him to simplify the complicated concepts of Habermas for his dissertation. Hermida’s previous research work and review of scholarly articles revealed a dearth of material on the Philippines.

“I noticed only one paper on the Philippines — an analysis of the people power revolutions –– and I thought this was a lacuna in my scholarship. So I decided to write on Philippine democracy, which became the basis for the book,” he said.

Hermida’s dissertation, entitled “Between Discourse and Practice: Constitutional Rhetoric and Political Reality in Philippine Society in Light of the Habermasian Theory of Law and Democracy,” was granted the Postgraduate Publications Award by the Monash University Faculty of Arts. The grant encourages research degree candidates to publish their research work in professional journals or books.

In compliance with the award, Hermida wrote various articles and a book proposal. Some of his articles were published in peer-reviewed publications. He was also invited to present them in conferences abroad:  in Olympia, Greece, the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, and the National University of Singapore Faculty of Arts.

SUNY Press, the academic publishing house of the State University of New York, accepted his book proposal.

Dr. Hermida's book tackles the Philippine political reality in the context of Habermas' theory.
Producing the book was a “tedious but very enriching learning experience,” Hermida said.   His manuscript had to be evaluated by subject experts and presented to the SUNY Press board before it was approved for publication one year after the proposal was accepted by the university.

Hermida views research as invaluable in teaching: “Teaching is a continuation of research work. One of the purposes of research is to enrich teaching,” he said.   Aside from teaching at the Ateneo, Hermida also lectures in two seminaries- the Saint Camillus College Seminary in Marikina City and the Saint Thomas of Villanova Institute in Quezon City.