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What is Phenomenology?

Lecturer: David Rathbone

Originally Taught: Winter School 2011

1. Phenomenology as background: Hegel
2. Phenomenology as foreground: Husserl
3. Phenomenology as ground: Heidegger
4. Phenomenology and the Other: Levinas
5. Michel Henry's “Material Phenomenology”

This course aims to give students an overview of Phenomenology, the philosophical doctrine that being and appearance are related not accidentally, but essentially.  Although Hegelians and Husserlians often repudiate one another’s usage of the term ‘phenomenology’, an adequate account of phenomenology in fact needs to take into account not only Husserl's description of pure appearance freed from all ontological commitment by the phenomenological reduction, but also Hegel’s phenomenology of mind as the account of the inner experience of the unfolding of spirit.  Both are differing but related attempts to find ways to describe what Kant called homo phenomenon (the mind in the world as it appears to and is known by us) without recourse to the Kantian faith in an unknowable and indescribable nous.  Heidegger's rethinking of the meaning of appearance, Levinas' insistence on the meaning of the face, and Henry's challenge to the dominance of transcendence will also be explored, as we address the question of the future of Phenomenology.

Texts:

Hegel
Phenomenology of Mind, preface
Science of Logic
, volume one, book two, section two, chapter two: “Appearance”
Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences volume 3 §§413-439

Husserl
The Idea of Phenomenology
1927 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for phenomenology (in Husserl, Shorter Works)

Heidegger
Being and Time §7
On Time and Being
Hegel's Concept of Experience

Levinas
The Theory of Intuition in Husserl's Phenomenology
Existence and Existents
“Phenomenon and Enigma” in Collected Philosophical Papers

Henry
The Essence of Manifestation
Material Phenomenology