Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Rediscovering Husserl: Perspectives on the Epoche and the Reductions

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Rediscovering Husserl: Perspectives on the Epoche and the Reductions

Article excerpt

The processes associated with implementing a phenomenological study in the Husserlian interpretation can seem daunting to the new researcher. This is especially true if the researcher intends to implement Husserl's concepts with intentionality and reflexivity. A leading cause of difficulty lies in the tendency for Husserl to change how he described key elements of his phenomenology, particularly the epoche and the associated reductions. Although many very good manuals exist within which a new researcher will find a host of prescriptions for the execution of a phenomenological study, an essential difficulty exists for those who want a deeper understanding of the intentions of phenomenology, not only as a research method, but as a personal orientation for the scholar-practitioner. The intention of this paper is to provide perspectives useful to the new researcher beginning the process of developing a personal orientation to Edmund Husserl's phenomenology. Keywords: Epoche, Husserl, Phenomenology, Reductions

This paper is motivated by the sense that transcendental phenomenology offers a depth of possibilities for describing lived experiences (Reeder, 2010). When I began the practice of research, I was confronted with the challenges of understanding the intricacies of what unique individuals reported to me about their perceptions. I became drawn towards transcendental phenomenology as a means to understand those perceptions, because the differences in how people construct meaning is so attractive to me. My practical challenge was to let the experience of the participant stand as he or she intended it to be understood, but my tendency was to filter their experiences through my own eyes, through my own experiences. As an aid to hearing the voice of my participants, phenomenology, as explained in the various writings of its founder, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), became the perfect method within which I could begin to understand how the perceptions of others helped them to understand their world.

Phenomenology provides a means to observe individual and personal epistemological realities as they arise from their unique perceptions (Pietersma, 2006). The opportunity to understand the subjective perceptions of participants is in itself a compelling draw to phenomenology as a method, yet the orientation seems difficult to fully grasp, particularly in understanding the evolution of Husseri's thinking. Reeder, (2010), as an example of this difficulty, explains that Husseri's writings "need to be read and reread" so that we become aware of how Husseri's "later explorations of consciousness correct and amplify earlier ones" (p. 158). It is not uncommon, even as it was in my past experience as a doctoral student, to be exposed only to a cursory look at phenomenology and its various constructs. This established for me a need to engage in a personal exploration of Husseri's writing so that I could begin to understand some of the many complexities which exist in the method. The orientation I received as a student exposed the difficulties inherent to the method on an intellectual level, but those challenges became real only after beginning to implement the method. A particular difficulty exists in the task of intentionally engaging with what Husserl called the "epoche" (Sousa, 2014, p. 31), and the associated processes of "reduction" and "bracketing" (Chan, Yuen-ling, & Wai-tong, 2013, p. 1). The terms are used so frequently and with so much seeming familiarity that my initial tendency was to falsely embrace an external, superficial examination of the context and meaning within phenomenology. It was only after reading through Husserl's writings that I realized the extraordinary personal investment Husserl asks of the aspiring phenomenologist (Husserl, 1982).

What I intend in this paper is to provide a perspective, acknowledging that there are many such perspectives, with which to understand the epoche and associated concepts in research as they exist in Husserl's transcendental phenomenology. …

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