What is Phenomenology? phenomenologyJune 28, 2021
The concept of phenomenology, as derived from the word “phenomenon” meaning “the reality of the external world we can hear”, was first used by the German philosopher Hegel in the work “Phenomenology of the Mind” written in 1807. (What is the Phenomenon?).
As a philosophical concept, it can be said that the concept of phenomenology is based on Kant’s ideas that “it is impossible for us to know how the world really is in itself, our knowledge of the world is based on our limited perceptions”.
Phenomenology is an effort of inquiry and research on phenomena. Phenomenology is an understanding of philosophy that aims to describe human experiences independently of them, rather than causal and objective explanations made in some sciences. This understanding focuses on phenomena. In other words, the aim in phenomenology is to grasp the essence of phenomena.
WHAT IS PHENOMENOLOGY?
According to phenomenology, the physical world does not have a reality that has the same meaning for everyone and is independent of individuals. In other words, the physical world is relative, dependent on the meanings and interpretations that people ascribe to it.
For phenomenology, the physical world does not have a reality that is the same for everyone.
For example, according to phenomenology, such things as keys, screws, or rims do not actually exist; these are all metals that have been given different forms and have different functions.
Let’s say we showed a tribal person in Africa and had never seen a key in his life and asked what it was. This person will not assign the meanings we assign to the key. For him, this object has no meaning as it does for us. In order for the key to exist for this person, this person must give a meaning to the key and be able to make a comment about the key.
Therefore, according to phenomenology, the physical world does not have a reality that is the same for everyone.
This state of relativity is more evident in the social world than it is in the physical world. For example, rivers, flowers, rocks exist no matter how people label them, no matter how they describe them; that is, they exist physically independently of people and their classification.
However, it is not possible to say the same for concepts in the social world (Slattery, 1991:142). For example, concepts such as ‘poverty’ or ‘punishment’ consist entirely of meanings created by people in order to describe certain situations.
The existence and reality of poverty or punishment depends on people’s perception of these concepts, the meanings and interpretations they attribute to them. These concepts do not have a reality independent of these perceptions, meanings and interpretations. As a matter of fact, the same action or situation can be interpreted and interpreted in many different ways.
For example, a death event can be interpreted in many different ways such as accident, suicide, murder, death. Or, while killing a person is considered a crime in some cases, it can be interpreted as an obligation, sometimes even a heroism. This shows that human knowledge is relative.
HUSSERL and PHENOMENOLOGY
Phenomenology is a philosophical school, a philosophical research method developed by Edmund Husserl, which tries to understand how the reality that we accept as given in daily life without questioning is constructed by our consciousness (Srubar, 2005:557).
According to the phenomenological approach, the fact that people do not question the world around them during their daily lives and accept the reality of this world spontaneously and naturally creates a problem.
This ‘natural attitude’ is one that accepts the reality of the everyday world, suspending all doubts that it could be anything else (Swingewood, 1998:316).
Edmund Husserl is considered the founder of phenomenology.
Phenomenology asks the question of how our consciousness acquires and constructs this reality, which we do not question, but which we take for granted with a natural attitude. Therefore, Phenomenology is a philosophical approach that is based on the assumption that the external world is meaningful only with our consciousness of this world, deals with the functioning of human consciousness and tries to examine the ways in which people interpret the world they live in (Craib, 1992:98).
The most important feature of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy is intentionality.
Accordingly, consciousness always exists as directed towards something/object, that is, in relation to something/object or being conscious of something/object.
For example, consciousness exists in the consciousness of the soil, of the tree. In other words, there are no two separate things, tree and consciousness. Therefore, there is no distinction between object and subject. The object has a reality only in the sense that consciousness turns to it. Thus, according to this definition, the object is constructed by certain kinds of intentional experiences.
To say that objects can have a reality only through the intentional experiences of the consciousness of individuals is to say that they are independent of the intentional experiences of the consciousness of individuals.