Phenomenology is a philosophic method based on the conscious experience of phenomena. Phenomena include both acts (for example, perceiving, thinking, believing, and willing) and the things to which they are related (material objects, ideas, wishes). Phenomenology was developed by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century.
Husserl sought to place philosophy on a scientific basis and thus unify all the sciences through universal truths tested by experience. He cast aside all presuppositions about reality (such as those used by psychologism, positivism, and relativism) based on the objective inductive method that draws conclusions from empirical observations of fact. Instead, he contended that conclusions must derive from the subjective consciousness, which is always "of something"- that is, of phenomena.
In experiencing phenomena, one intuits (immediately grasps) general concepts, or essences (relationships, values, qualities), which, in opposition to the phenomenalist view of objects as merely sensations, have a transcendent existence outside one's experience. Although such men as Moritz Geiger, Max Scheler, and Martin Heidegger modified Husserl's views, they applied the phenomenological method to such nonscientific areas as aesthetics, law, and ethics, and to existentialism.
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