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Phenomenology

 

Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Phenomenology

Principle | Discussion | See also

Principle

Knowledge is discovered through open, unbiased description of experience, without any attribution of cause or other explanation.

Discussion

In the 18th century, Swiss-German mathematician-philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert used it in describing his theory of knowledge that sought to distinguish truth from illusion and error.

The 20th century philosophical movement was originated in the work of German philosopher Edmund Husserl and afterwards taken up by Martin Heidegger. As a philosophy it proposes in the direct investigation and description of phenomena as consciously experienced, without theories about their cause and as free as possible from unexamined preconceptions and presuppositions. The researcher thus seeks to describe what they are experiencing as openly as possible with as much honesty and lack of bias as they can muster.

The approach is rational in nature in that it is based primarily in human thought as opposed to any empirical measurement, although Phenomenologists seek to study very carefully known examples.

Phenomenology treats differences between surface appearance and reality as product of conscious mind, where consciousness is seen as the product of intersubjective relations between communicating actors.

People are seen to bring themselves into existence through conscious and intersubjective responses to the world around them.

It looks deeply at the assumptions of social research.

Phenomenology seeks to bridge Empiricism, which stresses observation, and Rationalism, which stresses reason and theory.

See also

Hermeneutics, Epistemology

Edmund Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations), 2nd ed., 2 vol. (1913-21)

Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), (1962)

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