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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

2. The Discipline of Phenomenology

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1. What is Phenomenology?
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As the discipline of psychology emerged late in the 19 th century, however, phenomena took on a somewhat different guise. More generally, we might say, phenomena are whatever we are conscious of: In a certain technical sense, phenomena are things as they are given to our consciousness, whether in perception or imagination or thought or volition.

This conception of phenomena would soon inform the new discipline of phenomenology. Brentano distinguished descriptive psychology from genetic psychology. Where genetic psychology seeks the causes of various types of mental phenomena, descriptive psychology defines and classifies the various types of mental phenomena, including perception, judgment, emotion, etc. According to Brentano, every mental phenomenon, or act of consciousness, is directed toward some object, and only mental phenomena are so directed.

Phenomenology as we know it was launched by Edmund Husserl in his Logical Investigations — Two importantly different lines of theory came together in that monumental work: In his Theory of Science Bolzano distinguished between subjective and objective ideas or representations Vorstellungen. In effect Bolzano criticized Kant and before him the classical empiricists and rationalists for failing to make this sort of distinction, thereby rendering phenomena merely subjective.

Logic studies objective ideas, including propositions, which in turn make up objective theories as in the sciences. Psychology would, by contrast, study subjective ideas, the concrete contents occurrences of mental activities in particular minds at a given time. Husserl was after both, within a single discipline.

So phenomena must be reconceived as objective intentional contents sometimes called intentional objects of subjective acts of consciousness. Phenomenology would then study this complex of consciousness and correlated phenomena.

The intentional process of consciousness is called noesis , while its ideal content is called noema. Thus the phenomenon, or object-as-it-appears, becomes the noema, or object-as-it-is-intended. Is the noema an aspect of the object intended, or rather a medium of intention?

For Husserl, then, phenomenology integrates a kind of psychology with a kind of logic. It develops a descriptive or analytic psychology in that it describes and analyzes types of subjective mental activity or experience, in short, acts of consciousness.

Yet it develops a kind of logic—a theory of meaning today we say logical semantics —in that it describes and analyzes objective contents of consciousness: These contents are shareable by different acts of consciousness, and in that sense they are objective, ideal meanings.

Following Bolzano and to some extent the platonistic logician Hermann Lotze , Husserl opposed any reduction of logic or mathematics or science to mere psychology, to how people happen to think, and in the same spirit he distinguished phenomenology from mere psychology. For Husserl, phenomenology would study consciousness without reducing the objective and shareable meanings that inhabit experience to merely subjective happenstances.

Ideal meaning would be the engine of intentionality in acts of consciousness. With theoretical foundations laid in the Investigations , Husserl would then promote the radical new science of phenomenology in Ideas I And alternative visions of phenomenology would soon follow. Phenomenology came into its own with Husserl, much as epistemology came into its own with Descartes, and ontology or metaphysics came into its own with Aristotle on the heels of Plato. Yet phenomenology has been practiced, with or without the name, for many centuries.

When Hindu and Buddhist philosophers reflected on states of consciousness achieved in a variety of meditative states, they were practicing phenomenology. When Descartes, Hume, and Kant characterized states of perception, thought, and imagination, they were practicing phenomenology. When Brentano classified varieties of mental phenomena defined by the directedness of consciousness , he was practicing phenomenology.

When William James appraised kinds of mental activity in the stream of consciousness including their embodiment and their dependence on habit , he too was practicing phenomenology. And when recent analytic philosophers of mind have addressed issues of consciousness and intentionality, they have often been practicing phenomenology. Still, the discipline of phenomenology, its roots tracing back through the centuries, came to full flower in Husserl.

The diversity of traditional phenomenology is apparent in the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology Kluwer Academic Publishers, , Dordrecht and Boston , which features separate articles on some seven types of phenomenology.

The most famous of the classical phenomenologists were Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. In these four thinkers we find different conceptions of phenomenology, different methods, and different results. A brief sketch of their differences will capture both a crucial period in the history of phenomenology and a sense of the diversity of the field of phenomenology.

In his Logical Investigations —01 Husserl outlined a complex system of philosophy, moving from logic to philosophy of language, to ontology theory of universals and parts of wholes , to a phenomenological theory of intentionality, and finally to a phenomenological theory of knowledge. Then in Ideas I he focused squarely on phenomenology itself.

In this spirit, we may say phenomenology is the study of consciousness—that is, conscious experience of various types—as experienced from the first-person point of view. In this discipline we study different forms of experience just as we experience them, from the perspective of the subject living through or performing them. Thus, we characterize experiences of seeing, hearing, imagining, thinking, feeling i.

However, not just any characterization of an experience will do. Phenomenological analysis of a given type of experience will feature the ways in which we ourselves would experience that form of conscious activity.

And the leading property of our familiar types of experience is their intentionality, their being a consciousness of or about something, something experienced or presented or engaged in a certain way. How I see or conceptualize or understand the object I am dealing with defines the meaning of that object in my current experience. Thus, phenomenology features a study of meaning, in a wide sense that includes more than what is expressed in language.

In Ideas I Husserl presented phenomenology with a transcendental turn. We thereby turn our attention, in reflection, to the structure of our own conscious experience. Our first key result is the observation that each act of consciousness is a consciousness of something, that is, intentional, or directed toward something. Consider my visual experience wherein I see a tree across the square. In phenomenological reflection, we need not concern ourselves with whether the tree exists: However, we do need to concern ourselves with how the object is meant or intended.

I see a Eucalyptus tree, not a Yucca tree; I see that object as a Eucalyptus, with a certain shape, with bark stripping off, etc. Thus, bracketing the tree itself, we turn our attention to my experience of the tree, and specifically to the content or meaning in my experience. This tree-as-perceived Husserl calls the noema or noematic sense of the experience.

Philosophers succeeding Husserl debated the proper characterization of phenomenology, arguing over its results and its methods. And they were not alone. Heidegger had his own ideas about phenomenology. In Being and Time Heidegger unfurled his rendition of phenomenology. By contrast, Heidegger held that our more basic ways of relating to things are in practical activities like hammering, where the phenomenology reveals our situation in a context of equipment and in being-with-others.

Much of Being and Time develops an existential interpretation of our modes of being including, famously, our being-toward-death. In a very different style, in clear analytical prose, in the text of a lecture course called The Basic Problems of Phenomenology , Heidegger traced the question of the meaning of being from Aristotle through many other thinkers into the issues of phenomenology.

Our understanding of beings and their being comes ultimately through phenomenology. Heidegger questioned the contemporary concern with technology, and his writing might suggest that our scientific theories are historical artifacts that we use in technological practice, rather than systems of ideal truth as Husserl had held.

Our deep understanding of being, in our own case, comes rather from phenomenology, Heidegger held. In the s phenomenology migrated from Austrian and then German philosophy into French philosophy. In the novel Nausea Jean-Paul Sartre described a bizarre course of experience in which the protagonist, writing in the first person, describes how ordinary objects lose their meaning until he encounters pure being at the foot of a chestnut tree, and in that moment recovers his sense of his own freedom.

In Being and Nothingness , written partly while a prisoner of war , Sartre developed his conception of phenomenological ontology. Consciousness is a consciousness of objects, as Husserl had stressed. The chestnut tree I see is, for Sartre, such a phenomenon in my consciousness. For Sartre, the practice of phenomenology proceeds by a deliberate reflection on the structure of consciousness. Sartre wrote many plays and novels and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In Phenomenology of Perception Merleau-Ponty developed a rich variety of phenomenology emphasizing the role of the body in human experience.

Unlike Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, Merleau-Ponty looked to experimental psychology, analyzing the reported experience of amputees who felt sensations in a phantom limb. Merleau-Ponty rejected both associationist psychology, focused on correlations between sensation and stimulus, and intellectualist psychology, focused on rational construction of the world in the mind. Think of the behaviorist and computationalist models of mind in more recent decades of empirical psychology. For the body image is neither in the mental realm nor in the mechanical-physical realm.

Rather, my body is, as it were, me in my engaged action with things I perceive including other people. The scope of Phenomenology of Perception is characteristic of the breadth of classical phenomenology, not least because Merleau-Ponty drew with generosity on Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre while fashioning his own innovative vision of phenomenology. His phenomenology addressed the role of attention in the phenomenal field, the experience of the body, the spatiality of the body, the motility of the body, the body in sexual being and in speech, other selves, temporality, and the character of freedom so important in French existentialism.

In short, consciousness is embodied in the world , and equally body is infused with consciousness with cognition of the world. In the years since Husserl, Heidegger, et al. Interpretation of historical texts by Husserl et al. Since the s, philosophers trained in the methods of analytic philosophy have also dug into the foundations of phenomenology, with an eye to 20 th century work in philosophy of logic, language, and mind. Analytic phenomenology picks up on that connection. For Frege, an expression refers to an object by way of a sense: For Husserl, similarly, an experience or act of consciousness intends or refers to an object by way of a noema or noematic sense: Indeed, for Husserl, the theory of intentionality is a generalization of the theory of linguistic reference: More recently, analytic philosophers of mind have rediscovered phenomenological issues of mental representation, intentionality, consciousness, sensory experience, intentional content, and context-of-thought.

Some researchers have begun to combine phenomenological issues with issues of neuroscience and behavioral studies and mathematical modeling. Such studies will extend the methods of traditional phenomenology as the Zeitgeist moves on.

We address philosophy of mind below. The discipline of phenomenology forms one basic field in philosophy among others. How is phenomenology distinguished from, and related to, other fields in philosophy? Traditionally, philosophy includes at least four core fields or disciplines: Suppose phenomenology joins that list. Consider then these elementary definitions of field:. The domains of study in these five fields are clearly different, and they seem to call for different methods of study.

Historically it may be argued , Socrates and Plato put ethics first, then Aristotle put metaphysics or ontology first, then Descartes put epistemology first, then Russell put logic first, and then Husserl in his later transcendental phase put phenomenology first.

As we saw, phenomenology helps to define the phenomena on which knowledge claims rest, according to modern epistemology. On the other hand, phenomenology itself claims to achieve knowledge about the nature of consciousness, a distinctive kind of first-person knowledge, through a form of intuition. As we saw, logical theory of meaning led Husserl into the theory of intentionality, the heart of phenomenology. On one account, phenomenology explicates the intentional or semantic force of ideal meanings, and propositional meanings are central to logical theory.

But logical structure is expressed in language, either ordinary language or symbolic languages like those of predicate logic or mathematics or computer systems.

It remains an important issue of debate where and whether language shapes specific forms of experience thought, perception, emotion and their content or meaning. So there is an important if disputed relation between phenomenology and logico-linguistic theory, especially philosophical logic and philosophy of language as opposed to mathematical logic per se. Phenomenology studies among other things the nature of consciousness, which is a central issue in metaphysics or ontology, and one that leads into the traditional mind-body problem.

Husserlian methodology would bracket the question of the existence of the surrounding world, thereby separating phenomenology from the ontology of the world. Phenomenology might play a role in ethics by offering analyses of the structure of will, valuing, happiness, and care for others in empathy and sympathy. Historically, though, ethics has been on the horizon of phenomenology.

Husserl largely avoided ethics in his major works, though he featured the role of practical concerns in the structure of the life-world or of Geist spirit, or culture, as in Zeitgeist , and he once delivered a course of lectures giving ethics like logic a basic place in philosophy, indicating the importance of the phenomenology of sympathy in grounding ethics.

Beauvoir sketched an existentialist ethics, and Sartre left unpublished notebooks on ethics. However, an explicitly phenomenological approach to ethics emerged in the works of Emannuel Levinas, a Lithuanian phenomenologist who heard Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg before moving to Paris. Allied with ethics are political and social philosophy. Sartre and Merleau-Ponty were politically engaged in s Paris, and their existential philosophies phenomenologically based suggest a political theory based in individual freedom.

Sartre later sought an explicit blend of existentialism with Marxism. Still, political theory has remained on the borders of phenomenology. Social theory, however, has been closer to phenomenology as such. Husserl analyzed the phenomenological structure of the life-world and Geist generally, including our role in social activity. Heidegger stressed social practice, which he found more primordial than individual consciousness.

Alfred Schutz developed a phenomenology of the social world. There are also recent signs of the reception of phenomenology and Heidegger's thought in particular within scholarly circles focused on studying the impetus of metaphysics in the history of ideas in Islam and Early Islamic philosophy such as in the works of the Lebanese philosopher Nader El-Bizri ; [37] perhaps this is tangentially due to the indirect influence of the tradition of the French Orientalist and phenomenologist Henri Corbin , and later accentuated through El-Bizri's dialogues with the Polish phenomenologist Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka.

In addition, the work of Jim Ruddy in the field of comparative philosophy , combined the concept of Transcendental Ego in Husserl's phenomenology with the concept of the primacy of self-consciousness in the work of Sankaracharya. In the course of this work, Ruddy uncovered a wholly new eidetic phenomenological science, which he called "convergent phenomenology. James Moor has argued that computers show up policy vacuums that require new thinking and the establishment of new policies.

For the phenomenologist, society and technology co-constitute each other; they are each other's ongoing condition, or possibility for being what they are. For them technology is not just the artifact. Rather, the artifact already emerges from a prior 'technological' attitude towards the world Heidegger For Heidegger the essence of technology is the way of being of modern humans—a way of conducting themselves towards the world—that sees the world as something to be ordered and shaped in line with projects, intentions and desires—a 'will to power' that manifests itself as a 'will to technology'.

However, according to Heidegger this 'pre-technological' age or mood is one where humans' relation with the world and artifacts, their way of being disposed, was poetic and aesthetic rather than technological enframing. In critiquing the artificial intelligence AI programme, Hubert Dreyfus argues that the way skill development has become understood in the past has been wrong.

He argues, this is the model that the early artificial intelligence community uncritically adopted. In opposition to this view, he argues, with Heidegger, that what we observe when we learn a new skill in everyday practice is in fact the opposite. We most often start with explicit rules or preformulated approaches and then move to a multiplicity of particular cases, as we become an expert. His argument draws directly on Heidegger's account in "Being and Time" of humans as beings that are always already situated in-the-world.

As humans 'in-the-world', we are already experts at going about everyday life, at dealing with the subtleties of every particular situation; that is why everyday life seems so obvious. Thus, the intricate expertise of everyday activity is forgotten and taken for granted by AI as an assumed starting point. It is the assumed, and forgotten, horizon of everyday practice that makes technological devices and solutions show up as meaningful.

If we are to understand technology we need to 'return' to the horizon of meaning that made it show up as the artifacts we need, want and desire.

We need to consider how these technologies reveal or disclose us. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about phenomenology in philosophy. For phenomenology as a research method, see Phenomenography.

For phenomenology as an approach in psychology, see Phenomenology psychology. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Antipositivism Deconstruction Ecophenomenology Existentialism Geneva School Gestalt therapy Hermeneutics Heterophenomenology Ideasthesia Important publications in phenomenological psychology List of phenomenologists Phenomenography Phenomenological sociology Phenomenological Thomism Phenomenology architecture Phenomenology of religion Phenomenology psychology Philosophical anthropology Poststructuralism Psychodrama Qualia Social constructionism Structuralism Structuration theory Technoethics.

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences, 7 2: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the Self. New Youk, Dordrecht, London: Retrieved 17 December The fateful separation of transcendental philosophy and psychology". Northwestern University Press, , pg. Philosopher of Infinite Tasks. Between Good and Evil. Marx's Method , Routledge, , p. Its Problem and Promise , Routledge, , p.

Castoriadis' Naturphilosophie " , Cosmos and History: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 22 May A Study in Analytic Phenomenology , Routledge, A Post-Analytic Turn , Bloomsbury, , p. This use of the word evidence may seem strange in English, but is more common in German, which is the language Husserl wrote in. My info source was http: It was not copied and pasted but rephrased for copyright reasons. Nader El-Bizri , 'On Dwelling: Common Morality and Computing. Ethics and Information Technology 1 1.

Accessed 4 May A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism. Edited by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Mark A. Blackwell, Handbook of Phenomenological Aesthetics.

Contributions To Phenomenology, Vol. The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student's familiarity with the subject: Robert Sokolowski, "Introduction to Phenomenology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press — An excellent non-historical introduction to phenomenology.

Herbert Spiegelberg , "The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction," 3rd ed. The most comprehensive source on the development of the phenomenological movement. A Guide to the Field and its Literature" Athens: Millon , pp. An answer to the question, What is phenomenology? Luijpen and Henry J. Duquesne University Press Richard M.

Zaner, "The Way of Phenomenology" Indianapolis: Das Seinsproblem zwischen Idealismus und Realismus. Selected Essays Frankfurt a.

State Board of Education. Quadrangle Books ed. Edie, "An Invitation to Phenomenology" Chicago: Quadrangle Books — A collection of seminal phenomenological essays.

Elveton, "The Phenomenology of Husserl: Selected Critical Readings" Seattle: No specific methodology or philosophical orientation is required in submissions. The "moving wall" represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a "zero" moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication.

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