Teaching Phenomenology to Qualitative Researchers, Cognitive Scientists, and Phenomenologists

By Gallagher, Shaun; Francesconi, Denis | Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Teaching Phenomenology to Qualitative Researchers, Cognitive Scientists, and Phenomenologists


Gallagher, Shaun, Francesconi, Denis, Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology


Abstract

The authors examine several issues in teaching phenomenology (1) to advanced researchers who are doing qualitative research using phenomenological interview methods in disciplines such as psychology, nursing, or education, and (2) to advanced researchers in the cognitive neurosciences. In these contexts, the term "teaching" needs to be taken in a general and non-didactic way. In the case of the first group, it involves guiding doctoral students in their conception and design of a qualitative methodology that is properly phenomenological. In the case of the second, it is more concerned with explaining the relevance of phenomenology to an audience of experimental scientists via conference presentations or published papers. In both cases, however, the challenge is to make clear to the relevant audience what phenomenology is and how it can relate to what they are doing.

The teaching of phenomenology can take several forms. For example, in an undergraduate course on phenomenology it is possible to focus on the philosophical origins of phenomenology and its development across a number of authors. This approach contains many problems and issues for exploration. In studying Husserl's phenomenology, for example, we can note in his work the constant repetition of beginnings and re-statements about how to do phenomenology. The Cartesian approach gives way to the psychological approach, which gives way to the lifeworld concept. In this way, static phenomenology gives way to genetic pheno¬menology. It would also seem that a clear transcendentalism gives way, at various points, to an emphasis on embodied experience. In a graduate course one can pursue issues of Husserlian scholarship that demand close analysis of Husserl's texts. Alternatively, it is possible to focus on the early connections between analytic philosophy and phenomenology, and their later contentious divorce. One could wrestle with the various transformations that phenomenology undergoes in the existential writings of Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. One could also trace the influence of phenomeno-logical ideas through various post-phenomenological thinkers and movements such as Levinas, Derrida, and the postmoderns. In all of these approaches there is no shortage of controversial issues to explore.

A different way to teach phenomenology is to focus on the phenomenological method and its applications. There is, of course, also some history involved here. However, the focus may be more pragmatic than scholarly. For example, one could explore phenomen-ology by looking at its interdisciplinary uses. This could include the use of the phenomenological concepts of Alfred Schutz (1932/1967) in sociological analysis or the work of Roman Ingarden (1931/1973) on aesthetics and literature. Another possibility would be to trace the development of phenomenological psychology and the contemporary use of phenomeno- logy in qualitative research. The focus could also be on the recent employment of phenomenology in the cognitive sciences, a combination that has given a boost to the currency of phenomenological philosophy.

In this short paper we examine issues in regard to teaching phenomenology (1) to advanced researchers who are doing qualitative research using phenomeno-logical interview methods in disciplines such as psychology, nursing, or education, and (2) to advanced researchers in the cognitive neurosciences. In these contexts, the term "teaching" needs to be taken in a very general and non-didactic way. In the case of the first group, what it involves is attempting to guide PhD students in their conception and design of a qualitative methodology that is properly phenomenological. In the case of the second group, it is more a matter of explaining the relevance of phenomenology to an audience of experimental scientists via conference presentations or published papers. In both cases, however, the challenge is to make clear to the relevant audience what phenomenology is and how it can relate to what they are doing. …

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