The date of creation of modern phenomenology is considered to be 1901, when the “Logical Studies” of Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (1859-1938) were published.
The direction of philosophical research at the beginning of the XX century. The term “phenomenology” comes from the Greek words phainómenon, which means “appearing” and lógos — teaching. In Husserl’s presentation, phenomenology mainly considers and studies the structures of consciousness and the phenomena occurring in it. This consideration should take place from the point of view of the “first person”, but phenomena are studied not as they appear before my consciousness, but before any consciousness. Husserl believed that the science of phenomena constructed in this way – phenomenology, could provide a solid foundation for all human knowledge, including scientific knowledge. Thus, philosophy could get the status of a strict science.
The ideas of phenomenology are actively covered on the pages of peer-reviewed scientific and philosophical journals and religious press published on all five continents. The idealistic picture of the world is considered in the framework of TV shows, documentaries and videos shown on scientific and educational channels.
A brief history
The roots of phenomenology extend deep into the past, to the theory of Platonic idealism, and perhaps even deeper – to Eastern philosophies.
The term was first proposed by Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777).
In its modern form, the current was formulated at the beginning of the XX century. The founder and outstanding representative of phenomenology was Edmund Husserl.
In addition to Husserl, phenomenology was developed or criticized by Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others — Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Dietrich von Hildebrand.
In its simplest form, phenomenology tries to create conditions for the objective study of what is usually considered subjective — consciousness and its manifestations like judgment, perception and feeling. Although phenomenology strives to be scientific, it does not attempt to teach consciousness from the point of view of clinical psychology or neurology. Instead, with the help of systematic reasoning, it aims to determine the essential properties of the structures of consciousness and manifestations of consciousness.
Husserl borrowed many concepts important for phenomenology from the works and lectures of his teachers Franz Brentano and Karl Stumpf. Husserl borrowed from Brentano an important concept of intentionality — the idea that consciousness is always awareness of something. The object of awareness is called an intentional object. It can arise in consciousness in different ways: as perception, memory, sign, etc. Although all these different intentionalities have different structures, the object is still built up in consciousness as the same identical object.
Although many phenomenological methods use various reductions (simplifications), phenomenology is essentially anti-reductive. Reduction is only a tool that helps to better understand and describe the action of consciousness. In other words, when it comes to the essence or idea of a thing, it describes what is “actually” visible, as if these are the only aspects or properties of the thing. This does not mean that the thing is exclusively what is described. The purpose of such a reduction is to understand how different aspects add up to the real thing that the observer receives in experience. Phenomenology is a direct reaction to psychologism and physicalism, popular in Husserl’s time.
Biography of the creators
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (1859 – 1938) was a German philosopher, known as the father of phenomenology. His work broke with the positivist orientation of science and philosophy of his time, giving weight to subjective experience as a source of knowledge of objective phenomena.
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was a German philosopher who concentrated his work in the fields of phenomenology and hermeneutics. One of the founders of hermeneutics and modern linguistic philosophy.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 – 1961) was a French philosopher, one of the prominent representatives of phenomenology and a supporter of existentialism.
Paul Ricoeur (1913 – 2005) was a French philosopher, along with Heidegger and Gadamer, one of the leading representatives of philosophical hermeneutics, a new branch of philosophy that grew out of the root of phenomenology.
Emmanuel Levinas (1906 – 1995) was a French philosopher. Levinas’ philosophical views were formed under the influence of Husserl’s phenomenology and Heidegger’s fundamental ontology, as well as the dialogism of Martin Buber and, above all, Franz Rosenzweig, which largely determined the style of thought.
The influence of Heidegger and Husserl was most clearly reflected in Levinas’ early works: “The Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology” (1930), “Existence and Existents” (1947), “Discovering Existence with Husserl and Heidegger” (1949). At the same time, back in 1948, the book “Time and the Other” was published, in which Levinas for the first time expounds his own philosophical concept containing a critical reception of influences. Thus, Levinas’ own position is clarified in the dispute with Heidegger and existentialism, which dominates the intellectual world of France, unfolded on the pages of the book. The key intentions of Levinas’ thinking, first articulated in “Time and the Other”, are further developed in his works “Totality and Infinity. An essay on exteriority” (1961), “The Humanism of the Other” (1973), “Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence” (1974), “Diachrony and Representation” (1983) and others.
Peter Ludwig Berger (1929 – 2017) an Austrian and American sociologist and theologian, ideologist of neoconservatism, representative of social constructivism in sociology, professor of sociology and religious studies at Boston University, was a long-term director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture.
Vakhtang Ivanovich Kebuladze (1972) is a Ukrainian philosopher, publicist, translator, and a specialist in phenomenology. Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of the Department of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, Co-chairman of the Ukrainian Phenomenological Society.