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The Philosophical DictionaryPhenomenology

    . Description of experience. Hence, a philosophical method restricted to careful analysis of the intellectual processes of which we are introspectively aware, without making any assumptions about their supposed causal connections to existent external objects. Philosophers who have made extensive use of diverse phenomenological methods include Brentano, Husserl, Hartmann, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty.


    . Phenomenology has three meanings in philosophical history, one derived from G.W.F. Hegel in 1807, one derived from Edmund Husserl in 1920, and one derived from Martin Heidegger in 1927:


    1. For G.W.F. Hegel, phenomenology is an approach to philosophy that begins with an exploration of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as a means to finally grasp the absolute, logical, ontological and metaphysical Spirit that is behind phenomena. This has been called a 'dialectical phenomenology.'
    2. For Edmund Husserl, phenomenology is an approach to philosophy that takes the intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in phenomenological reflexion) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience. This has been called a "transcendental phenomenology."
    3. For Martin Heidegger, the phenomenological vision of a world of beings must be bypassed toward the apprehension of the Being behind all beings, that is, as an introduction to ontology, albeit an ontology that remains critical of metaphysics. This has been called an "existential phenomenology."


    One simple way to describe phenomenology is, "science in practice." That is, the goals of science might be objectivity, unbiased observation, value-free interpretation, and so forth. But, in practice, observations, analysis, and interpretations are influenced by inutition, political economy, past experiences, and other characteristics of the scientist, culture, and the community of scholars. Phenomenology recognizes that we can never see reality (if there is one) as it is, but must view our experiences as a give-and-take--a "dialectic"--of experience with and observation of reality.