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Phenomenology in two ways

Phenomenology is commonly understood in either of two ways: as a disciplinary field in philosophy, or as a movement in the history of philosophy. It entered human geography in the early 1970 as a reaction to the reductive and objectivist approach of spatial science. It tries to explain the relationship between the scientific and the pre-scientific, the theoretical and the everyday. Phenomenology was designed to disclose the world as it shows itself before scientific inquiry, as that which is pre-given and presupposed by the sciences.

Phenomenology is an important source. People never observe the world in an objective way. We observe how the world appears to us as a phenomenon, so the world is always observed subjectively. The appearance of the world depends on our intentions and ons how it appears. How it appears affects what we want to do.

As a disciplinary field, it studies the 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. The true essence of objects resides in our deepest intentional relationship with them. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions. Husserl called this deep intentional relationship with objects the 'Life world'. When the subjective meaning of people is compared there is a part of the world that is taken for granted, a universal horizon common to all humanity. We don't question this world. It's an obvious world in that case. This is what Husserl refers to with the term Life world. In this way, subjectivity creates a kind of objectivity, called inter-subjectivity.

According to Schutz, the subjectivety you use when you observe determines whether your actions will be conscious or unconscious. His thesis is that when you have a subjective view to a place or space, you will act conscious to that view. You will, in your mind, already have an idea about what you are going to do. He calls this the "projected act". You can either hold de picture in front of your inner eye (retention) or you can recall it to your mind from time to time (reproduction). The total experience you have with retention and reproduction is a very complex one, but Schutz refers to this as "map-consulting". When you act without this map, you behaviour or action will be unconscious.

Phenomenology as a discipline is distinct from but related to other key disciplines in philosophy, such as ontology, epistemology, logic, and ethics. Phenomenology has been practiced in various guises for centuries, but it came into its own in the early 20th century in the works of Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Merleau Ponty and others. So it's not only a discipline in philosophy but also in spatial science. Phenomenological issues of intentionality, consciousness, qualia, and first-person perspective have been prominent in recent philosophy of mind.

What was important in Husserl's findings was that in excisting studies, researchers didn't look at their own involvement in or with the research project. This could mean that the foundings where troubled by subjectivity. This can be found in his essay 'Philosophy and the crisis of European man' (1936).

Phenomenological philosophers

Four phenomenological well-known philosophers are:


  • Schutz, A. (1972). "The Phenomenology of the Social World". Evanston, Illinois.
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2008). Phenomenology. Founded at 8 september 2011 at [1]
  • Cloke, P., Philo, Ch. & Sadler, D. (1991). Approaching Human Geography. Chapman, London.
  • Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D. & Pratt, G. (2005). The Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford


  • Page enhanced by --JikkeVanTHof - 09:41, 7th of September 2011 (UTC)
  • Page enhanced and links added by --User: AafkeBrus - 12:11, October 19th 2011
  • Page improved by -- LiekeVogels - 13:29, 11th of September 2012
  • Page added to Category 'Phenomenology' by Iris van der Wal - 16:07, October 25th 2012
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