Intuiting — Experience or recall the phenomenon; «hold» it in your awareness, or live in it, be involved in it; dwell in it or on it.
Analyzing — Examine the phenomenon; look for what makes it up, for how it relates to its surroundings, for its dynamics, and ultimately for its essences.
Describing — Write down your description; guide your reader through your intuiting and analyzing.
What makes these three simple steps so difficult is the attitude you must maintain as you perform them. First, you must have a certain respect for the phenomenon. You must take care that you are intuiting it fully, from all possible «angles*, physically and mentally, and leaving nothing out of the analysis that belongs there. Herbert Spiegelberg said «The genuine will to know calls for the spirit of generosity rather than for that of economy...».
Included in this « generosity* is a respect for both public and private events, the «objective» and the «subjec-tive». A basic point in phenomenology is called intention-ality, which refers to the mutuality of the subject and the object in experience: All phenomena involve both an intending act and an intended object. Traditionally, we have emphasized the value of the object-pole and denigrated that of the subject-pole. In fact, we have gone so far as to dismiss even the object-pole if it doesn't correspond to some physical entity. But, to quote Spiegelberg again, «Even merely private phenomena are facts which we have no business to ignore. A science which refuses to take account of them as such is guilty of suppressing evidence and will end with a truncated universe*.
On the other hand, we must also be on guard against including things in our descriptions that don't belong there. This is the function of bracketing: We must put aside all biases we may have about the phenomenon. When you have a prejudice against a person, you will see what you expect, rather than what is there. The same applies to phenomena in general: You must approach them without theories, hypotheses, metaphysical assumptions, religious beliefs, or even common sense conceptions. Ultimately, bracketing means suspending Judgement about the «true nature* or «ultimate reality* of the experience — even whether or not it exists.
Although the description of individual phenomena is interesting in its own right — and when it involves peo-
Pie or cultures, a massive undertaking as well — we usually come to a point where we want to say something about the class the phenomenon is a part of. In phenomenology, we talk about seeking the essence or structure of something. So we might investigate the essence of traingularity, or of pizza, or of anger, or of being male or female. We might even, as the phenomenological existentialists have attempted, seek the essence of being human.
Husserl suggested a method called free imaginative variation: When you feel you have a description of the essential characteristics of a category of phenomena, ask yourself, «What can I change or leave out without losing the phenomenon? If I color the triangle blue, or construct it out of Brazilian rosewood, do I still have a triangle? If I leave out an angle, or curve the sides, do I still have a triangle? » This may seem trivial and easy, but now try it regarding «being human»: Is a corpse human? A disembodied spirit? A person in a permanent coma? A porpoise with intelligence and personality? A just-fertilized egg? A six-month old fetus?
With phenomenology, the world regains some of its solidity, the mind is again permitted a reality of its own, and a rather paranoid skepticism is replaced with a more generous, and ultimately more satisfying, curiosity. By returning, as Husserl (1965,1970) put it, to «the things themselves*, or, to use another of his terms, to the lived world (Lebenswelt), we stand a better chance at developing a true understanding of our human existence.
Martin Heidegger was born on September 26, 1889, in Messkirch, Germany. His father was the sexton of the local church, and Heidegger followed suit by joining the Jesuits. He studied the theology and philosophy of the Middle Ages, as well as the more recent work of Franz Brentano.
He studied with Heinrich Rickert, a well known Kantian, and with Husserl. He received his doctorate in 1914, and began teaching at the University of Freiburg the following year. Although he was strongly influenced by Husserl's phenomenology, his interests lay more in the meaning of existence itself.
In 1923, he became a professor at the University of Marburg, and in 1927, he published his masterwork, Being and Time. Influenced by the ancient Greeks as well as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Dilthey, as well as Husserl, it was an exploration of the verb «to be», particularly from the standpoint of a human being in time. Densely and obscurely written, it was nevertheless well received all over Europe, though not in the English-speaking world.
Heidegger spent his entire life asking one question: What is it «to be»? Behind all our day-to-day living, for that matter, behind all our philosophical and scientific investigations of that life, how is it that we «are» at all?
Phenomenology reveals the ways in which we are. The first hurdle is our traditional contrast between subject and object, which splits man as knower from his environment as the known. But in the phenomenological at-titude, experience doesn't show this split. Knower and known are both inextricably bound together. Instead, it appears that the subject-object split is something we developed late in history, especially with the advent of modern science.
The problems of the modern world come from the «falling» of western thought: Instead of a concern with the development of ourselves as human beings, we have allowed technology and technique to rule our lives and lead us to a false way of being. This alienation from our true nature is called inauthenticity.
Much of what is difficult about reading Heidegger is that he tries to recover the kind of being that was before the subject-object split by looking at the origins of words, especially Greek words. In as much as the ancient Greeks were less alienated from themselves and their world, their language should offer us a clue to their relation to being.
Heidegger says that we have a special relationship to the world, which he refers to by calling human existence Dasein. Dasein means «being there*, and emphasizes that we are totally immersed in the world, and yet we stand-out (ex-sist) as well. We are a little off-center, you might say, never quite stable, always becoming.
A big part of our peculiar nature is that we have freedom. We create ourselves by choosing. We are our own projects. This freedom, however, is painful, and we experience life as filled with anxiety (Angst, dread). Our potential for freedom calls to us to authentic being by means of anxiety.
One of the central sources of anxiety is the recognition that we all have to die. Our limited time here on earth makes our choices far more meaningful, and the need to choose to be authentic urgent. We are, he says, being-towards-death.
All too often, we surrender in the face of anxiety and death, a condition Heidegger calls f allenness. We become «the everybody* — nobody in particular, the anonymous man, one of the crowd or the mob.
З: Two characteristics of him are idle talk and curiosity. Idle talk is small talk, chatter, gossip, shallow interaction, as opposed to true openness to each other. Curiosity refers to our need for distraction, novelty-seeking, busy-body-ness, as opposed to a true capacity for wonder.