Phenomenological Methods of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty

Phenomenology can be explained in two ways: either as a movement of philosophers or as a branch of philosophy. As a branch, phenomenology involves the study of structures of experience or awareness in human beings. In other words it can be defined as a discipline of philosophy that studies “phenomena” or how we see things in our own knowledge (Husserl 37). It involves the study of conscious experience as experienced from first person point of view. On the historical perspective, phenomenology is a philosophical institution that was launched in the early years 20th century by philosophers who included Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Maurice Marleau-Ponty and Paul Sartre (Husserl 66). The movement prized phenomenology as the proper foundation of all philosophy. Basically, phenomenology is concerned with the study of various types of experiences such as craving, perception, and will to bodily consciousness judgments, thoughts, memory, sensation and collective activities among others.

Among the famous phenomenological philosophers of the 20th century is a German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Being and the Time is the most important philosophical book written by Heidegger that regardless of the fact that the project outlined in its introduction was never completed, the book greatly influenced the 20th century philosophy. Generally, in his Heidegger addresses the philosophy of deconstruction, hermeneutics and existentialism. In this book, Heidegger describes that his project and that of his followers is to work on the sense of being since the previous philosophers had discriminatorily over looked this question defining it as an obvious one. According to Him, philosophers should learn to understand human beings as they are different from other beings. He goes ahead to explain that “what explains beings as beings is being” (Kockelmans 44).

Heidegger wanted philosophers to understand being in order to differentiate it from any specific entities. Heidegger believes that, the sense of being comes before any notions of how or in what manner any particular being or beings exist and behave. It is pre-conceptual, non-propositional, and hence pre-scientific. In his view, essential ontology would be an enlightenment of the understanding proceeding any other way of knowing, such as the use of logic, theory, specific ontology. He argued that we cannot understand being unless through the studying them. Therefore, for true knowledge of being is only possible by referring to particular beings, and that the best method of pursuing being must inevitably, rely upon repetitive yet progressive acts of elucidation. “The methodological sense of phenomenological description is interpretation”. Generally, Being and Time can therefore be defined as an exploration of meaning of being temporality. It is also an analysis of time as a leeway for the understanding of human beings from other being (Heidegger 27).

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