Phenomenology Glossary

(1) A description of the givens of immediate experience. (2) An attempt to capture experience in process as lived, through descriptive analysis. (3) A method of knowing that "begins with the things themselves, that tries to find a 'first opening' on the world free aof our perceptions and interpretations, together with a methodology for reducing the interference of our preconceptions. (4) A method of learning about another person by listing to their descriptions of what their subjective world is like for them, together with anb attempt to understand this in their own terms as fully as possible, free of our preconceptions and interferences. Phenomenology is the act of trying to experience the total reality of the consciousness of someone who experiences his or her world in a certain place and time.
Phenomenology has roots in the greek word "phenesti," which means to show forth, bringing into the light of day.

In traditional orthodox natural science,, the more one pursues the nature of something, the more one is taken away from what one experiences, from one's own being, to abstractions and formulations. Everything gets captured and conceptualized, turned by the mind into something other than what it actually is, one or two steps removed from direct unfiltered experience. Because of our cultural filter systems, we may not always be getting a clear reception of actual experience. Phenomenologies see scientific, quantitative analysis as only one possible avenue to the interpretation of phenomena, and instead stress qualitative research. Rollo May says, "Phenomenology is the science that makes the bridge between nature and the world and our personal immediate experience." Phenomenology strives not to gain power or control over nature or the mind, but to work holistically with mind and nature. Reality which gives birth to the appearances, returns things to themselves.


Becoming: existence is seldom static; it is always in the process of becoming something new, of transcending itself, with the goal of fulfilling one's possibilities.

Being-in-the-world: Acting with awareness, responsibility, and freedom within a context of given world-conditions.

"bracketing": Suspending, setting aside our biases, everyday understandings, theories, beliefs, habitual modes of thought, and judgments. For example, analyses of cause and effect must be bracketed in order to understand the phenomenon as it shows itself. Part of the larger process of epoche´.

closed and open attitudes. Closed: an approach of constant narrowing or zeroing in on a phenomenon. Open: Consists of gaps as well as "filled" sections, and we remain open to notice what happens and evolves.

descriptive approach: describing our behavior and experience as we observe and experience it.

dialogical phenomenology: oral interview of the co-researcher, and involving the co-researcher in thematizing during the interview.

empirical phenomenology: The researcher examines descriptions written by the co-researcher.

engaged attitude: Both researcher and co-researcher are engaged in attitudes and b ehavior that reflect their involvement in the world.

epoche´: Learning to look at things in a way such that we see only what stands before our eyes, only what we can describe and define. This attempt to suspend any and all beliefs as we observe and listen is an attempt to minimize interpretation.

existentials: basic structures which comprise the ground of existence, like space, time, motion, relation, embodiment.

facticity: a belief in factual characteristics of real objects . In phenomenology, by bracketing our facticity,l we transfer our focus from assumed things "out there" to our experience.

intentionality: consciousness actively reaches out toward the object in a directed way. It provides a structure which gives experience meaning.

introspection: a method of inner observation which involves assuming an external viewpoint toward oneself, stating the facts about oneself as others might if they could observe what the introspector observes.

intersubjectivity: The process of several, or many people, coming to know a common phenomenon, each through his or her subjective experience.

life-world (lebenswelt): the world as we live in and experience it

meaning: lies in the relationship between a person and his or her world of objects

noema: the appearance of an object or or item as the perceiving subject apprehends it.

noetic: harboring a meaning or meanings of some sort.

noetic: harboring a meaning or meanings of some sort

noesis: How beliefs are acquired; how it is that we are experiencing what we are experiencing.

objectivism: positing the procedures of the natural sciences as THE procedures for establishing objectivity and conducting science.

ontology: The study of our mode and process of existing in the world

phenomenological reduction: (1) an attempt to suspend the observer's viewpoint. (2) Hearing another person's reality and focusing on the central, dominant, or recurring themes which represent the essential qualities or meanings of that person's experience.

subjectivity. Recognizing that I can only apprehend you from an inherently subjective position, modified by such devices as epoche, bracketing, and an intention to understand you in your terms. It is impossible, phenomenologists hold, to truly understand another's experience objectively. But one of the dangers of phenomenology is its inherent subjectivity.

themes: layers of meaning which are less basic than existentials, but are often related to the latter.

Umwelt, mitvelt, & eigenwelt: Umwelt: biological or physical surroundings or landscape; Mitwelt: the human environment; Eigenwelt: the person himself or herself, including the body.

verstehen (German for "understanding") through influence and empathy people can understand each other. Experience is not just hidden inside the person, but appears in the words, on our faces, and in our language.

world-design: the all-encompassing pattern of a person's mode of being in the world.

Phenomenology Summary