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Qualitative Approaches

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Phenomenology, in Husserl's conception, is primarily concerned with the systematic reflection on and study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness. Phenomenology can be clearly differentiated from the Cartesian method of analysis which sees the world as objects , sets of objects, and objects acting and reacting upon one another.

In its most basic form, phenomenology attempts to create conditions for the objective study of topics usually regarded as subjective: Although phenomenology seeks to be scientific, it does not attempt to study consciousness from the perspective of clinical psychology or neurology. Instead, it seeks through systematic reflection to determine the essential properties and structures of experience. Husserl derived many important concepts central to phenomenology from the works and lectures of his teachers, the philosophers and psychologists Franz Brentano and Carl Stumpf.

The object of consciousness is called the intentional object , and this object is constituted for consciousness in many different ways, through, for instance, perception , memory , retention and protention , signification , etc. Throughout these different intentionalities, though they have different structures and different ways of being "about" the object, an object is still constituted as the identical object; consciousness is directed at the same intentional object in direct perception as it is in the immediately following retention of this object and the eventual remembering of it.

Though many of the phenomenological methods involve various reductions, phenomenology is, in essence, anti- reductionistic ; the reductions are mere tools to better understand and describe the workings of consciousness, not to reduce any phenomenon to these descriptions. In other words, when a reference is made to a thing's essence or idea , or when the constitution of an identical coherent thing is specified by describing what one "really" sees as being only these sides and aspects, these surfaces, it does not mean that the thing is only and exclusively what is described here: Phenomenology is a direct reaction to the psychologism and physicalism of Husserl's time.

Although previously employed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his Phenomenology of Spirit , it was Husserl's adoption of this term circa that propelled it into becoming the designation of a philosophical school.

As a philosophical perspective, phenomenology is its method, though the specific meaning of the term varies according to how it is conceived by a given philosopher. As envisioned by Husserl, phenomenology is a method of philosophical inquiry that rejects the rationalist bias that has dominated Western thought since Plato in favor of a method of reflective attentiveness that discloses the individual's "lived experience. Sometimes depicted as the "science of experience," the phenomenological method is rooted in intentionality, i.

Husserl's theory of consciousness developed from Brentano. Intentionality represents an alternative to the representational theory of consciousness, which holds that reality cannot be grasped directly because it is available only through perceptions of reality that are representations of it in the mind.

Husserl countered that consciousness is not "in" the mind; rather, consciousness is conscious of something other than itself the intentional object , whether the object is a substance or a figment of imagination i. Hence the phenomenological method relies on the description of phenomena as they are given to consciousness, in their immediacy. According to Maurice Natanson , p. To "bracket" in this sense means to provisionally suspend or set aside some idea as a way to facilitate the inquiry by focusing only on its most significant components.

The phenomenological method serves to momentarily erase the world of speculation by returning the subject to his or her primordial experience of the matter, whether the object of inquiry is a feeling, an idea, or a perception. According to Husserl the suspension of belief in what we ordinarily take for granted or infer by conjecture diminishes the power of what we customarily embrace as objective reality. Martin Heidegger modified Husserl's conception of phenomenology because of what Heidegger perceived as Husserl's subjectivist tendencies.

Whereas Husserl conceived humans as having been constituted by states of consciousness, Heidegger countered that consciousness is peripheral to the primacy of one's existence i. From this angle, one's state of mind is an "effect" rather than a determinant of existence, including those aspects of existence of which one is not conscious. By shifting the center of gravity from consciousness psychology to existence ontology , Heidegger altered the subsequent direction of phenomenology.

As one consequence of Heidegger's modification of Husserl's conception, phenomenology became increasingly relevant to psychoanalysis. Whereas Husserl gave priority to a depiction of consciousness that was fundamentally alien to the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious, Heidegger offered a way to conceptualize experience that could accommodate those aspects of one's existence that lie on the periphery of sentient awareness.

Phenomenology has at least three main meanings in philosophical history: Hegel , another in the writings of Edmund Husserl in , and thirdly, succeeding Husserl's work, in the writings of his former research assistant Martin Heidegger in Although the term "phenomenology" was used occasionally in the history of philosophy before Husserl , modern use ties it more explicitly to his particular method.

Following is a list of important thinkers, in rough chronological order, who used the term "phenomenology" in a variety of ways, with brief comments on their contributions: Later usage is mostly based on or critically related to Husserl's introduction and use of the term. This branch of philosophy differs from others in that it tends to be more "descriptive" than " prescriptive ".

The Encyclopedia of Phenomenology Kluwer Academic Publishers, features separate articles on the following seven types of phenomenology: The contrast between "constitutive phenomenology" German: Modern scholarship also recognizes the existence of the following varieties: Austin 's linguistic phenomenology [25] see ordinary language philosophy , and post-analytic phenomenology [26] see postanalytic philosophy.

Intentionality refers to the notion that consciousness is always the consciousness of something. The word itself should not be confused with the "ordinary" use of the word intentional, but should rather be taken as playing on the etymological roots of the word. Originally, intention referred to a "stretching out" "in tension," from Latin intendere , and in this context it refers to consciousness "stretching out" towards its object. However, one should be careful with this image: Intentionality is often summed up as "aboutness.

This means that the object of consciousness doesn't have to be a physical object apprehended in perception: Consequently, these "structures" of consciousness, i. The term "intentionality" originated with the Scholastics in the medieval period and was resurrected by Brentano who in turn influenced Husserl's conception of phenomenology, who refined the term and made it the cornerstone of his theory of consciousness.

The meaning of the term is complex and depends entirely on how it is conceived by a given philosopher. The term should not be confused with "intention" or the psychoanalytic conception of unconscious "motive" or "gain".

Intuition in phenomenology refers to cases where the intentional object is directly present to the intentionality at play; if the intention is "filled" by the direct apprehension of the object, you have an intuited object. Having a cup of coffee in front of you, for instance, seeing it, feeling it, or even imagining it — these are all filled intentions, and the object is then intuited.

The same goes for the apprehension of mathematical formulae or a number. If you do not have the object as referred to directly, the object is not intuited, but still intended, but then emptily.

Examples of empty intentions can be signitive intentions — intentions that only imply or refer to their objects. In everyday language, we use the word evidence to signify a special sort of relation between a state of affairs and a proposition: State A is evidence for the proposition "A is true. In Husserl's phenomenology, which is quite common, this pair of terms, derived from the Greek nous mind , designate respectively the real content, noesis, and the ideal content, noema, of an intentional act an act of consciousness.

The Noesis is the part of the act that gives it a particular sense or character as in judging or perceiving something, loving or hating it, accepting or rejecting it, and so on. This is real in the sense that it is actually part of what takes place in the consciousness or psyche of the subject of the act.

The Noesis is always correlated with a Noema ; for Husserl, the full Noema is a complex ideal structure comprising at least a noematic sense and a noematic core. The correct interpretation of what Husserl meant by the Noema has long been controversial, but the noematic sense is generally understood as the ideal meaning of the act [29] and the noematic core as the act's referent or object as it is meant in the act. One element of controversy is whether this noematic object is the same as the actual object of the act assuming it exists or is some kind of ideal object.

In phenomenology, empathy refers to the experience of one's own body as another. While we often identify others with their physical bodies, this type of phenomenology requires that we focus on the subjectivity of the other, as well as our intersubjective engagement with them.

In Husserl's original account, this was done by a sort of apperception built on the experiences of your own lived-body. The lived body is your own body as experienced by yourself, as yourself. Your own body manifests itself to you mainly as your possibilities of acting in the world. It is what lets you reach out and grab something, for instance, but it also, and more importantly, allows for the possibility of changing your point of view.

This helps you differentiate one thing from another by the experience of moving around it, seeing new aspects of it often referred to as making the absent present and the present absent , and still retaining the notion that this is the same thing that you saw other aspects of just a moment ago it is identical.

Your body is also experienced as a duality, both as object you can touch your own hand and as your own subjectivity you experience being touched. The experience of your own body as your own subjectivity is then applied to the experience of another's body, which, through apperception, is constituted as another subjectivity. You can thus recognise the Other's intentions, emotions, etc. This experience of empathy is important in the phenomenological account of intersubjectivity.

In phenomenology, intersubjectivity constitutes objectivity i. This does not imply that objectivity is reduced to subjectivity nor does it imply a relativist position, cf.

In the experience of intersubjectivity, one also experiences oneself as being a subject among other subjects, and one experiences oneself as existing objectively for these Others ; one experiences oneself as the noema of Others' noeses, or as a subject in another's empathic experience. As such, one experiences oneself as objectively existing subjectivity.

Intersubjectivity is also a part in the constitution of one's lifeworld, especially as "homeworld. Lebenswelt is the "world" each one of us lives in.

One could call it the "background" or "horizon" of all experience, and it is that on which each object stands out as itself as different and with the meaning it can only hold for us. The lifeworld is both personal and intersubjective it is then called a "homeworld" , and, as such, it does not enclose each one of us in a solus ipse. In the first edition of the Logical Investigations , still under the influence of Brentano, Husserl describes his position as "descriptive psychology.

The first volume of the Logical Investigations , the Prolegomena to Pure Logic , begins with a devastating critique of psychologism , i. Husserl establishes a separate field for research in logic, philosophy, and phenomenology, independently from the empirical sciences. Some years after the publication of the Logical Investigations , Husserl made some key elaborations that led him to the distinction between the act of consciousness noesis and the phenomena at which it is directed the noemata.

What we observe is not the object as it is in itself, but how and inasmuch it is given in the intentional acts. Knowledge of essences would only be possible by "bracketing" all assumptions about the existence of an external world and the inessential subjective aspects of how the object is concretely given to us. Husserl in a later period concentrated more on the ideal, essential structures of consciousness. As he wanted to exclude any hypothesis on the existence of external objects, he introduced the method of phenomenological reduction to eliminate them.

What was left over was the pure transcendental ego, as opposed to the concrete empirical ego. Now Transcendental Phenomenology is the study of the essential structures that are left in pure consciousness: This amounts in practice to the study of the noemata and the relations among them.

The philosopher Theodor Adorno criticised Husserl's concept of phenomenological epistemology in his metacritique Against Epistemology , which is anti-foundationalist in its stance.

After Husserl's publication of the Ideen in , many phenomenologists took a critical stance towards his new theories. Especially the members of the Munich group distanced themselves from his new transcendental phenomenology and preferred the earlier realist phenomenology of the first edition of the Logical Investigations.

Existential phenomenology differs from transcendental phenomenology by its rejection of the transcendental ego. Merleau-Ponty objects to the ego's transcendence of the world, which for Husserl leaves the world spread out and completely transparent before the conscious. Heidegger thinks of a conscious being as always already in the world. Transcendence is maintained in existential phenomenology to the extent that the method of phenomenology must take a presuppositionless starting point — transcending claims about the world arising from, for example, natural or scientific attitudes or theories of the ontological nature of the world.

While Husserl thought of philosophy as a scientific discipline that had to be founded on a phenomenology understood as epistemology , Martin Heidegger held a radically different view. Heidegger himself states their differences this way:. According to Heidegger, philosophy was not at all a scientific discipline, but more fundamental than science itself.

According to him science is only one way of knowing the world with no special access to truth. Furthermore, the scientific mindset itself is built on a much more "primordial" foundation of practical, everyday knowledge. Husserl was skeptical of this approach, which he regarded as quasi-mystical, and it contributed to the divergence in their thinking.

Instead of taking phenomenology as prima philosophia or a foundational discipline, Heidegger took it as a metaphysical ontology: Phenomena are not the foundation or Ground of Being. Neither are they appearances, for, as Heidegger argues in Being and Time , an appearance is "that which shows itself in something else," while a phenomenon is "that which shows itself in itself.

While for Husserl we would have to abstract from all concrete determinations of our empirical ego, to be able to turn to the field of pure consciousness, Heidegger claims that "the possibilities and destinies of philosophy are bound up with man's existence, and thus with temporality and with historicality.

However, ontological being and existential being are different categories, so Heidegger's conflation of these categories is, according to Husserl's view, the root of Heidegger's error. Husserl charged Heidegger with raising the question of ontology but failing to answer it, instead switching the topic to the Dasein, the only being for whom Being is an issue.

That is neither ontology nor phenomenology, according to Husserl, but merely abstract anthropology. To clarify, perhaps, by abstract anthropology, as a non-existentialist searching for essences, Husserl rejected the existentialism implicit in Heidegger's distinction between beings qua existents as things in reality and their Being as it unfolds in Dasein's own reflections on its being-in-the-world, wherein being becomes present to us, that is, is unconcealed.

One of the most common methods for qualitative data collection, participant observation is also one of the most demanding. It requires that the researcher become a participant in the culture or context being observed. The literature on participant observation discusses how to enter the context, the role of the researcher as a participant, the collection and storage of field notes, and the analysis of field data. Participant observation often requires months or years of intensive work because the researcher needs to become accepted as a natural part of the culture in order to assure that the observations are of the natural phenomenon.

Direct observation is distinguished from participant observation in a number of ways. First, a direct observer doesn't typically try to become a participant in the context. However, the direct observer does strive to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to bias the observations. Second, direct observation suggests a more detached perspective. The researcher is watching rather than taking part.

Consequently, technology can be a useful part of direct observation. For instance, one can videotape the phenomenon or observe from behind one-way mirrors. Third, direct observation tends to be more focused than participant observation. The researcher is observing certain sampled situations or people rather than trying to become immersed in the entire context.

Finally, direct observation tends not to take as long as participant observation.


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Phenomenology (from Greek phainómenon "that which appears" and lógos "study") is the philosophical study of the structures of experience and a philosophical movement it was founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl and was later expanded upon by a circle of his followers at the universities of Göttingen and Munich in Germany.

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