Linguistic phenomenology

Name sometimes used for the detailed and careful analysis of ordinary language undertaken by linguistic philosophy.

Though not unconnected with ordinary phenomenology – especially in the work of English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) – it was an empirical rather than an a priori study, and did not involve ‘bracketing’ the world.

G Ryle, Collected Papers, 1 (1971)

Phenomenology (from Greek phainómenon “that which appears” and lógos “study”) is the philosophical study of the structures of experience of self.[1] As a philosophical movement it was founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl and was later expanded upon by a circle of his followers at the universities of Göttingen and Munich in Germany. It then spread to France, the United States, and elsewhere, often in contexts far removed from Husserl’s early work.[2]

Phenomenology is not a unified movement; rather, different authors share a common family resemblance but also with many significant differences. Gabriella Farina states:

A unique and final definition of phenomenology is dangerous and perhaps even paradoxical as it lacks a thematic focus. In fact, it is not a doctrine, nor a philosophical school, but rather a style of thought, a method, an open and ever-renewed experience having different results, and this may disorient anyone wishing to define the meaning of phenomenology.[3]

Phenomenology, in Husserl’s conception, is primarily concerned with the systematic reflection on and study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness. Phenomenology can be clearly differentiated from the Cartesian method of analysis which sees the world as mind, objects, sets of objects, and objects acting and reacting upon one another.

Husserl’s conception of phenomenology has been criticized and developed not only by himself but also by students and colleagues such as Edith Stein, Max Scheler, Roman Ingarden, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, by existentialists such as Nicolai Hartmann, Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Jean-Paul Sartre, by hermeneutic philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur, by later French philosophers such as Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida, and by sociologists such as Alfred Schütz and Eric Voegelin.

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