Category: Method in Phenomenology - August 2006
 
 

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pdf.png Special Edition on Methodology - Editorial (By Editor-in-Chief)  

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Shortly after the inception of the journal a decision was taken to publish a series of specialist editions, each to be overseen by an invited guest editor whose responsibility it would be to develop the special release in accordance with recommended guidelines. ...


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pdf.png Special Edition on Methodology - Guest Editorial (By Les Todres)  

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One can trace the meaning of "method" to the Greek word "hodos" (street or way). It is in this broad sense that the present edition on method is conceived. It offers a range of papers that have implications for the ‘way' of phenomenology, particularly in relation to the human sciences. Topics thus necessarily go back to the epistemological, ontological and ethical foundations that forge this ‘way' as a possible path. To trace a certain coherence in this broad path, and how such a path can accommodate a number of specific pathways, may be an exciting and productive venture. ...


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pdf.png The Delicate Empiricism of Goethe: Phenomenology as a Rigorous Science of Nature - By Brent Dean Robbins  

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's approach to natural scientific research has unmistakable parallels to phenomenology. These parallels are clear enough to allow one to say confidently that Goethe's delicate empiricism is indeed a phenomenology of nature. This paper examines how Goethe's criticisms of Newton anticipated Husserl's announcement of the crisis of the modern sciences, and it describes how Goethe, at a critical juncture in cultural history, addressed this emerging crisis through a scientific method that is virtually identical to the method of contemporary empirical-phenomenological research in the human sciences. Goethe's practice of science shares with phenomenology a participatory, morally-responsive, and holistic approach to the description of dynamic life-world phenomena. Delicate empiricism has its own version of the phenomenological epoché, and, like Husserl's technique of imaginative variation, it strives to disclose the essential or archetypal structure of the phenomenon through the endowment of human imagination. However, a close reading of Goethe suggests that the tendency amongst some scholars to distinguish phenomenology as human science from the natural sciences is actually a costly error which unwittingly falls prey to implicit Cartesian assumptions. Goethe, however, manages to avoid these problems by performing from the first a phenomenology of nature's sensibility.


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pdf.png Encountering the Animal Other: Reflections on Moments of Empathic Seeing - By Scott D. Churchill  

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The ultimate challenge for psychology as a human science inheres in accessing the experience of the other. In general, the field of psychology has perpetuated the epistemological dualism of distinguishing between the realm accessible by external perception and the realm accessible by inner perception, and hence between the subjective (or "first person" perspective) and the objective (or "third person" perspective), regarding the "first person" perspective as a legitimate means of access only to one's own private experience, while insisting that all others' experience must be observed from a neutral "third person" perspective. By reflecting on his participant-observational encounters with the animal other of the Bonobo, the author attempts to demonstrate in this paper the possibility of a third approach between the antinomy of methodological subjectivism and methodological objectivism as a way out of the dilemmas posed by epistemological dualism. The alternative proposed is the "second person" framework of observation, which, by invoking empathic seeing as its means of accessing the private space of the other and creating the space of the "in between", allows for intersubjective engagement in an experiential gestalt consisting of "myself and the other", and offers the possibility of testing one's ‘own' experience of an intersubjective moment in dialogue with the other. In so far as it infers the focusing of consciousness on embodied experience and expression, and the synthesis of receptive and proprioceptive consciousness in "experiaction" (Von Eckartsberg, 1971), the "second person" perspective restores inner reality to the realm of the observable, and thus reclaims observation as the method of psychology, and behaviour as its subject matter. The notion of empathy and intuition as a reliable and valid mode of access to the psychological life of others is substantiated theoretically with reference to inter alia Husserl's concepts of "coupling" and "co-constitution", Merleau-Ponty's notions of "inter-corporeality" or "carnal intersubjectivity" and of "the intertwining and the chiasm" of the "Ineinander" as constitutive of the "flesh of the world", Laing's postulation of the possibility of "interexperience", and the sense of union with the object of perception implied by Scheler's term "Einsfühlung" as the essence of intersubjective encounter.


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pdf.png Dancing between Embodied Empathy and Phenomenological Reflection - By Linda Finlay  

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In phenomenological research, layered understandings emerge from a complex process of experiencing and reflection, engaged in by both researcher and participant. Researcher and participant engage in a dance, moving in and out of experiencing and reflection while simultaneously moving through a shared intersubjective space that is the research encounter. If researchers are to empathise - imaginatively project themselves into participants' experience - they need to be open to this intersubjective space. First, I describe and reflect upon two particular moments of empathy which have arisen in two different phenomenological research interviews. I then attempt to make sense of these encounters with reference to phenomenological theory and philosophy related to empathy and intersubjectivity. A final section discusses some dilemmas we face as researchers when we apply empathy in our phenomenological research practice and considers the epistemological status of our empathic findings.


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pdf.png Facts, Values and the Psychology of the Human Person - By Amedeo Giorgi  

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The notion of value neutrality has been a contentious issue within the human and social sciences for some time. In this paper, some of the philosophical and scientific bases for the confusion surrounding the fact-value dichotomy are covered and the discrepancy between how psychology studies values and expresses them is noted. The sense of value neutrality is clarified historically and the clarified meaning of the term applied to some qualitative data demonstrating in what sense values may be expressed in psychology. The position is upheld that psychology as a human science intentionally should not be absolutely value free in the sense that human reality has to be studied in a non-reductionistic manner and thus methods of study must be respectful of the full ethical sense of humanness. This is simply meeting the phenomenological requirement of "fidelity to the phenomenon". However, psychology can be value free in the historical sense of the term properly understood because it refers to the fact that the personal values of the scientists ought not to be conflated with scientific findings. The discussion of values takes place primarily within the context of science, where the problem of value neutrality emerged, but it is acknowledged that non-scientific approaches to value have merit and can also be compelling.


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pdf.png 'The Individual in the World - The World in the Individual': Towards a Human Science Phenomenology that includes the Social World - By Karen Dahlberg  

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Human science researchers tend to be targeted for critique on the grounds that their approach is too individualistic to take due cognisance of societal and political influences. What is accordingly advocated is that the phenomenological and so-called romantic theories should be abandoned in favour of analytic or continental theories that have as their main focus the system, the group, the society, and the various influences of the social world on the existential reality of the individual.


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pdf.png The Value of Relatedness in Existential Psychotherapy and Phenomenological Enquiry - By Ernesto Spinelli  

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Existential psychotherapy places pivotal significance upon the inter-relational aspects of human experience. By so doing, the therapeutic relationship itself becomes the principal means through which the client's presenting symptoms and disorders are disclosed as direct expressions and outcomes of the client's overall "way of being" rather than as isolated and disruptive impediments. At the same time, existential therapy emphasises the actual relationship that emerges between psychotherapist and client and argues that it is via the contrast and comparison of this lived experience with that of their 'wider world' experience that clients can find the means to reconsider and reconstruct their "ways of being". This paper seeks to demonstrate that, as well as their shared aims and methods of enquiry, it is the mutual emphasis upon inter-relatedness as a foundational value for human enquiry that reveals substantive and intriguing points of connection between existential psychotherapy and phenomenological enquiry. The paper furthermore argues that existential psychotherapy might best be viewed as a clearly formulated expression of phenomenological enquiry.


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pdf.png Using Photography as a means of Phenomenological Seeing: 'Doing Phenomenology' with Immigrant Children - By Anna Kirova and Michael J. Emme  

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The aim of the study presented in this paper was to understand the lifeworlds of children who experience immigration and whose lives are marked by dramatic changes in their being-in-the-world. More specifically, the study proceeded from the question: What does it mean for an immigrant child to enter school in a new country? Two methodological questions were also explored, namely (1) How does one conduct a phenomenological investigation of a childhood phenomenon when the researchers and the participants do not share a common language? and (2) How does one engage children in the research process so that they provide not only "thick" descriptions of their experiences using alternative, non-linguistic means, but also make meaning of these experiences? In the current study, still photography was used to help the immigrant children recall and make meaning of what they experienced on their first day of school in a new country. In the process, they were enabled to become conscious photographers who came to see the world in such a way that photographic seeing became phenomenological seeing. Two examples of the children's visual narratives in the form of fotonovelas are presented to illustrate a methodology that involves fusion of the horizons surrounding the children, captured images of situations they encountered as they entered the classroom, and how the viewer saw the created image. The expanded notion of text and the use of digital technology in developing the text opened a space not only for visual representation of the children's lived experiences, but also for phenomenological analysis of these experiences. It is suggested that, although the written and visual texts produced as a result of the study differ, they are similar in the way in which they allow for phenomenological reflection and in their ability to show the phenomenon so as to evoke the reader's "phenomenological nod".


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pdf.png Thinking at the Edge: Where Theory and Practice Meet to Create Fresh Understandings - By Kevin Krycka  

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This paper focuses on the use of concretely felt experience in phenomenological methodology and theory construction. Using the example of a stepwise process of theory making called Thinking at the Edge (Gendlin, 2004), the author shows how experience functions in the creation of a new theory on the self-as-becoming. In the process, he attempts to demonstrate how the ongoing work relating to creating a new theory of self is germane to phenomenology.
The paper draws on the major philosophical work of Eugene Gendlin (1962 & 2004) in his development of "The Philosophy of the Implicit" (POI), and the two distinct practices, Focusing (1982) and Thinking at the Edge (2004), which grew out of it. This philosophy forms the theoretical basis upon which the assertion is made that experience that is directly referred to can be utilized as the core of a method in the explication of theory. Two challenges facing phenomenological researchers and theorists who desire to utilize felt experience in their work are addressed, namely (1) the fact that the intimately felt aspect underlying the creation of new ideas is basically hidden from the view of others and is thus not verifiable in the usual way, and (2) the lack of a larger public language for articulating the process and progress that follows concretely from felt experience. It is argued that Thinking at the Edge provides scientists or specialists in any field, including phenomenologists, with a means whereby they can explicitly use felt experience in their work. It also opens the way for fresh theoretical language, of a kind characterized by reflexivity of felt experience, within the broader public language of the various fields, in the process specifically demonstrating how theory instances and exceeds itself.


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