Phenomenology is commonly understood in either of two ways: The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view.
This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: The historical movement of phenomenology is the philosophical tradition launched in the first half of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, et al.
In that movement, the discipline of phenomenology was prized as the proper foundation of all philosophy—as opposed, say, to ethics or metaphysics or epistemology.
The methods and characterization of the Kinesthesis def were widely debated by Husserl and his successors, and these debates continue to the present day. The definition of phenomenology offered above will thus be debatable, for example, by Heideggerians, but it remains the starting point in characterizing the discipline.
However, our experience is normally much richer in content than mere sensation.
Phenomenology as a discipline has been central to the tradition of continental European philosophy throughout the 20th century, while philosophy of mind has evolved in the Austro-Anglo-American tradition of analytic philosophy that developed throughout the 20th century.
Yet the fundamental character of our mental activity is pursued in overlapping ways within these two traditions.
Accordingly, the perspective on phenomenology drawn in this article will accommodate both traditions. The main concern here will be to characterize the discipline of phenomenology, in a contemporary purview, while also highlighting the historical tradition that brought the discipline into its own.
Basically, phenomenology studies the structure of various types of experience ranging from perception, thought, memory, imagination, emotion, desire, and volition to bodily awareness, embodied action, and social activity, including linguistic activity.
These make up the meaning or content of a given experience, and are distinct from the things they present or mean. The basic intentional structure of consciousness, we find in reflection or analysis, involves further forms of experience.
Furthermore, in a different dimension, we find various grounds or enabling conditions—conditions of the possibility—of intentionality, including embodiment, bodily skills, cultural context, language and other social practices, social background, and contextual aspects of intentional activities.
Thus, phenomenology leads from conscious experience into conditions that help to give experience its intentionality. Traditional phenomenology has focused on subjective, practical, and social conditions of experience.
Recent philosophy of mind, however, has focused especially on the neural substrate of experience, on how conscious experience and mental representation or intentionality are grounded in brain activity.
It remains a difficult question how much of these grounds of experience fall within the province of phenomenology as a discipline. Cultural conditions thus seem closer to our experience and to our familiar self-understanding than do the electrochemical workings of our brain, much less our dependence on quantum-mechanical states of physical systems to which we may belong.
The cautious thing to say is that phenomenology leads in some ways into at least some background conditions of our experience. The Discipline of Phenomenology The discipline of phenomenology is defined by its domain of study, its methods, and its main results. Phenomenology studies structures of conscious experience as experienced from the first-person point of view, along with relevant conditions of experience.
The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, the way it is directed through its content or meaning toward a certain object in the world. We all experience various types of experience including perception, imagination, thought, emotion, desire, volition, and action.
Thus, the domain of phenomenology is the range of experiences including these types among others.Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view.
The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.
Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.