What are the principals of phenomenology?


Quick Answer

Phenomenology is the philosophical study of experiences from the subjective, or first-person, point of view. The term is often restricted to sensory information in the philosophy of the mind, but takes on a much broader scope, including intentionality, perceived significance, thought, emotion and linguistic activity, when studied as a discipline. There is an ongoing debate pertaining to its exact definition and proper use in the philosophical community, as of 2015.

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Full Answer

According to phenomenology, the central structure of an experience is its intentionality, the way it is directed through its meaning toward a certain object in the world. Generally, phenomenologists study experiences as a type rather than one specific instance in a fleeting moment. The range of the field includes the entirety of the human experience, encompassing everything from love to kicking a ball. Approaches to this field include plain descriptions of past experiences, past experiences related to some form of context, analysis of a particular type of experience, a logico-semantic view involving truth statements for lines of thought, and neurophenomenology that links experiences with specific brain functions. While each of these has some support, many phenomenologists reject one or more as faulty uses of the practice.

Conscious experiences are generally the easiest to study, as people are aware of them. However, the range of experiences includes background phenomena the individual is only vaguely aware of and unconscious actions that do not require any conscious thought. All of these things combine to create the richness of perceived experience, and must be examined together in any philosophical discussion of experience.

Phenomenology is distinct from but related to the other major fields of philosophy, including ontology, the study of being; epistemology, the study of knowledge; logic and ethics. The exact nature of this relationship remains disputed.

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