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Existential-Phenomenology WHAT IS EXISTENTIAL-PHENOMENOLOGY? Existential-phenomenology is a slippery term to define.

It is even more elusive in that the combined terms, existentialism and phenomenology, each have their own definitions. The term "existential-phenomenology" was originally coined by Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher, and, generally, it can be safely stated that Heidegger was the thinker to bring these two traditions together into one system of thought. That is, Heidegger's magnum opus, Being & Time, was the bridge between existentialism and phenomenology. However, to truly understand the significance of this meeting of traditions, it is necessary, at first, to define each term separately. WHAT IS PHENOMENOLOGY? Phenomenology is a method of thinking and a philosophy introduced by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) at the beginning of the twentieth century. Etymological Definition: The term phenomenology is composed of the Greek terms logos, science, and phainomenon, the appearing, or that which appears. Phenomenology is the study of that which appears as meaningful to consciousness in any living experience by means of direct awareness. In order to understand properly this definition the following points are to be kept in mind: 1) That which appears is that of which one is aware in any living experience. Three (3) entities appear to consciousness in any living experience: a) The noema or the intentional object. Noematic awareness is always a thetic or explicit awareness. The intentional object is, according to phenomenology, always something else than consciousness itself. In the living experience of imagining a house, for example, I have a thetic awareness of the the house as imagined as noema of consciousness. I am aware of the house as imagined as intentional object. b) The noesis or the intentional act of consciousness intending the noema by giving it a specific meaning. Noetic awareness is non-thetic or implicit awareness, which can be

made thetic through a reflection after the intentional act has been completed. In the living experience of imagining a house, I have a non-thetic awareness of the act of imagining a house as noesis of consciousness. Thus, in the living experience of imagining a house, I am not only aware of the house as imagined, but I am also aware of my intentional act of imagining a house.c) The self as agent of the noetic act of consciousness intending the noema. Selfawareness is given as a non-thetic or implicit awareness. This non-thetic awareness can be made explicit or thetic through a reflection after the intentional act has been executed. Thus, in the living experience of imagining a house, I am not only aware of the house as imagined (noema) and of the act of imagining (noesis), but I am also aware of myself as imagining a house. This self-consciousness is called egological consciousness. 2) Consciousness is conceived, not as a substance, but as an act of intending reality meaningfully, i.e., as a way of relating oneself meaningfully to reality. This reality is never in the first place consciousness itself. This view of consciousness as being intentional, or the intentionality of consciousness implies that: Consciousness is always consciousness of something that is not consciousness itself. In other words, that which appears to consciousness as the object of the intentional act is never the intentional act of consciousness itself. Every act of consciousness, since it is intentional, has an object which is to be distinguished from the intentional act itself. For this reason consciousness is transcendental, i.e., transcending itself by relating itself to a reality other than itself. Self-consciousness is lateral. Consciousness of the self as intending reality is secondary, i.e., it is only given inasmuch as consciousness intends an object which is not consciousness itself. Without intending an object one cannot be aware of oneself. 3) A living experience is broader than a sense experience or an empirical experience for also immaterial reality can be grasped in a living experience. Any experience of which one is aware is a living experience. A toothache, for example, is a living experience of pain, yet it cannot be

empirically observed. Only a tooth cavity can be empirically observed. 4) Direct awareness means immediate awareness, i.e., an awareness obtained, not through reasoning, but intuitively, because it is directly present to the object. Direct awareness, however, does not mean necessarily explicit or thematic awareness. In any intentionality, there is a direct awareness of (1) the object (noema), (2) the subject, and (3) the act of intending (noesis) the object by the subject. Major Assumptions of Phenomenology: The phenomenological view of consciousness is based on two major assumptions: 1) The intentionality of consciousness. According to phenomenology, intentionality is the specific characteristic of all psychic or conscious acts. That conscious experiences are intentional means that in such experiences the act of consciousness always intends object as meaningful and that these objects intended by consciousness are always transcending consciousness itself. Consciousness is, therefore, always an openness to what is not, or, as it is often expressed, consciousness is always consciousness of something that is not consciousness itself. Thus consciousness in the phenomenological view is never a substance closed in uponitself. It is always directed beyond itself towards something other than itself. These objects, inasmuch as they are endowed with meaning through the noetic acts of consciousness, are called noemata or intentional objects. These intentional objects should not be understood to mean only physical objects. Physical objects may, indeed, be intentional objects of consciousness, but so may be also non-physical objects, such as values, numbers, future possibilities, purposes, God, etc. The intentionality of consciousness also implies that all verbs used to express the activities of consciousness are transitive verbs. To think is to think something; to will is to will something; to perceive is to perceive something; to imagine is to imagine something; to feel is to feel something. 2) Denial of the noesis-noema dichotomy. This assumption is but a logical consequence of the phenomenological view of consciousness as intentionality. Inasmuch as all activities of consciousness are intentional and transcendental, one never finds the noesis and the noema in isolation from each other. They are like two sides of the same coin, for they are always

correlated. The noesis of imagining a house, for example, is necessarily correlated to the noema of a house as imagined, while the noesis of perceiving a house is necessarily correlated to the noema of a house as perceived. The refusal to accept the noesis-noema dichotomy also implies the refusal to accept the subject-object dichotomy. The intentional structures of human consciousness imply that man as subject is always necessarily related to the concrete objects of the world of experience inasmuch as he consciously acts. It is impossible to make a radical distinction between the subject and the object, for the subject always refers to the object and the object always points back to the subject. The intentionality of consciousness overcomes the Cartesian dualism of dividing reality into mutually exclusive entities, such as the mind and the body, the subject and the object, the human person and the world, and of denying any interaction between them. Thinkers after Descartes tried to overcome this Cartesian dualism by simply eliminating one of the terms. Idealism claims to account for physical reality in terms of the mind only, while positivism claims to account for mental reality in non-mental terms only. Consciousness, according to phenomenology, is never isolated, but always tied to the body and to the body and to the concrete objects of the world of experience. 3) Phenomenology, beginning with Husserl urges that the world of immediate or "lived" experience takes precedence over the objectified and abstract world of the "natural attitude" of natural science. Science as such, thus, is secondary to the world of concrete, lived experience. Phenomenology, therefore, engages in a process known as "bracketing" in which the "natural attitude" is placed aside such that the researcher may begin with "the things themselves," as Husserl said or, in other words, in the phenomena as they show themselves in experience. In Heidegger's terminology, phenomenology involves letting things "show themselves from themselves in the very way in which they show themselves from themselves." By definition, phenomenology never begins with a theory, but, instead, always begins anew with the phenomena under consideration. Merleau-Pontys famous description of phenomenology is quite instructive; as he writes, the phenomenologist returns "to the world which precedes (scientific description), (the world) of which science always speaks, and in relation to which every

scientific characterization is an abstract and derivative sign language, as is geography in relation to the countryside."WHAT IS EXISTENTIALISM? The origin of existentialism is typically attributed to the work of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). By existence, Kierkegaard meant the particular form of human existence which is unique. Each "individual" human being is cast into the world unfinished and finite, yet, nevertheless, must take responsibility for his or her choices. Responsibility as such is the result of the "individual's" free choice, yet, characteristic of human beings, these choices are always made in the face of the unknown, our finitude, and, therefore, they lead to "dread." "Dread," in this sense, is the recognition that one's choices our one's own, despite the fact that one can never know for certain whether these choices will bear out in the end. Kierkegaard held great contempt for those who relied on the "crowd" to take responsibility for individual choice. For Kierkegaard, one must answer to God as an individual, naked and apart from the "crowd." Thus, ultimately, our faith must involve a "leap," since the human being is precluded from finality and certitude. Existentialism, as such, is actually a 20th century movement, despite its roots in Kierkegaard and others. While Kierkegaard philosophized existentially, which influenced the existentialists of the 20th century, he did not hold to the existential axiom that "existence precedes essence," as Sartre asserted. With all of the existentialist thinkers of the 20th century, there are common themes, despite great diversity. Whether one looks to Heidegger, Sartre, Buber, Merleau-Ponty or De Beauvoir, to name a few, one finds a basic attitude, despite the major differences among these thinkers. These commonalities, which bind these theorists together, can be flushed out and this, in essence, is what one may call "existentialism." There is some justifiable irony in the fact that most of these thinkers rejected the term "existentialism." This tendency to reject any simple definition is descriptive of existentialism as a whole, since existentialism, as a movement, resists simplistic categories and abstraction. For the existentialist, truth' is always begins with the concrete; that is, in existence. And grounded in existence as such, this means that one's thought must necessarily be perspectival and limited. Despite these limitations, the common themes of existentialism include: 1) The human person as existence. Whereas phenomenology stresses that consciousness is

always necessarily related to an object that transcends consciousness, existentialism emphasizes that man is always necessarily related to the world which transcends him. Hence, existentialism considers existence as the essence of the human person. 2) The meaning of the term existence in existentialism. The term existence is used exclusively for the being of the human person to express the human persons nature or essence. The best way to express the human persons essence is to call the human being as existence, for only the human person exists. The term existence is taken in its etymological meaning: the human person ex (ex: out) sists (stare: stand); he/she does not in- (in: in) sist (stare: stand). The human being, in order to realize himself, has to stand out of himself by relating himself meaningfully to the world. That the human person stands out means that he is of such a nature that in order to realize himself he has to transcend (stand out) himself through a continuous relationship with all the dimension of his existential world (biological, social, and metaphysical). This concept of the human person implies that:a) he/she is not a mere object among other objects, since, as an object, it has no world. For an object, nothing matters. Objects can only matter for a human being, since it is only in the world of the human being that objects can have meaning; b) he/she is a dynamic and free being, a giver or meaning and values and c) he/she is always related to the world in realizing himself. He is not self-sufficient and closed in upon himself. The human person is always a worldly human and the world is always a human world. 3) The human being is a being-in-the-world. a) In this sense, the human being is not "in the world" like a match is in a matchbox. Rather, the human being is "in-the-world" in the sense that one is in trouble' or in a relationship.' b) The human being is "thrown" into that "world" such that she finds herself in the midst of the givens' of existence. One does not choose one's parents, the place of one's birth or the fact that one will die, yet, despite these circumstances, the human being is faced with the freedom to respond to these givens' of existence. In this

sense, human beings can be said to be response-able.' c) The human being is always "with others." Even being alone can be said to be a mode of being-with-others, since one cannot be alone unless this is first understood secondarily as a being-away-from-others. Moreover, our being-with-others is always as a relationship of some sort, and, being so, we are both shaped by others and shape those others with whom we relate. d) The human being is always "in-the-world" alongside things. Things, in terms of existence, are not mere extension in space. Rather, things exist as meaningful entities which, in one form or another, call to the human being as significant in terms of the human being's projection of possibilities. A thing is a thing when it matters to me in one form or another when, as a thing, it enters into the clearing by which I am either helped or hindered on my way toward realizing my projects "in-the-world." e) The existential relationships of the human person with the world are always free and intentional relationships through which the human person endows reality with meaning. Reality endowed with meaning through the intentional acts of man is called the world or the existential situation. It is in the encounter between human person as subject and the objects of the world that meanings originate, and both the human person and the world contribute to the origin of meanings. 4) Modes of existence and modalities of existence. The concrete ways of existing through which the human person establishes intentional relationships with the concrete world are called modes of existence. To pray, to eat, to talk, to work, etc., are different modes of existence by which the human person relates himself/herself to the world in a meaningful way. Furthermore,each mode of existence is made up of an ensemble of modalities of existence which comprises the existential modalities of the body and the existential modalities of consciousness. The existential modalities of consciousness, which are called intentionalities, consist of cognitive, functional and affective intentionalities. The cognitive intentionalities comprise the perceptual, remembering, imagining and intellectual intentionalities. Major Assumptions of Existentialism. The existential view of the human person is based on

three major assumptions. 1) The human person as existence. That the human persons essence is to exist means that the human person is an incarnate subjectivity who freely and consciously realizes himself in and through the world. This existential mode of being in the world has the following characteristics: a) it is intentional, for the human person is aware of the world as a meaningful existential situation, of his meaning-giving activities, and of him/herself as being the free agent or subject of these activities; b) it is incarnate, for the human person is aware that it is through the body as he/she lives it., i.e., to the extent that he/she experiences it, that he intentionally relates him/herself to the world; c) it is situational, for the human person is aware that whatever he/she does is only meaningful and purposive inasmuch as it is related to the world as its existential situation. Consequently, any analysis of the human persons existence has to consider three essential aspects: a) the intentional aspect, or human consciousness, b) the incarnational aspect, or bodily behavior, and c) the situational aspect, or the world. It is obvious that the existential view of man is an attempt to overcome the double dualism of Cartesian philosophy which dichotomizes man and the world and consciousness and the body. The human person is a worldly human being and his/her consciousness is an incarnate consciousness. Human consciousness, the lived body, and the world are integrated in a structural unity. This basic assumption of existentialism logically implies two additional assumptions: the refusal of the human person-world dichotomy and the refusal of the mind-body dichotomy. 2) Denial of the human being-world dichotomy. Existentialism insists that the human being cannot separate him/herself from the world. All human actions, including thinking, efforts, emotions, imaginations, etc., are performed in a world-context. Consequently, the modes of existence and the modalities of existence which one experiences are also the ways one is in the

world. The insistence that the human being is a being-in-the-world is an attempt to avoid reference to the human being in the Cartesian term of a thinking substance closed in uponitself. Being-in-the-world refers exclusively to human beings in contrast to non-human beings. It should be noted that the term world does not only refer to the physical world but also to the social and metaphysical worlds. The human person is only human to the extent that he/she exists, i.e., to the extent that he is engaged in tasks in the world. 3) Denial of the mind-body dichotomy. Existentialism also emphasizes the intimate link between consciousness and the lived body, i.e., the body of which the human person has a direct awareness. The lived body is the means by which consciousness experiences the world in a definite perspective or situatedness. The lived body is also the organ for voluntary actions, for it is only the body that conscious intentions can be actualized as projects in the world. Hence, human consciousness is always an embodied or incarnate consciousness, and the human body a besouled or conscious body. This existential view of the unity of body and consciousness is an attempt to overcome the Cartesian mind-body dualism. In Cartesian philosophy, the body is separated from consciousness and degraded to the status of an object in nature understood in pure mechanistic terms. In existential philosophy, the body is considered as an essential dimension of human existence. EXISTENTIAL-PHENOMENOLOGY: In ways that, perhaps, are already clear to the reader, existentialism and phenomenology lend themselves to one another quite nicely. With Heidegger, phenomenology, as the study of mental acts (noesis) and their intentional correlates (noemata), becomes grounded in his ontological analysis of Dasein (the human kind of being) as a "being-in-the-world." Ultimately, Heidegger breaks from the Cartesian, subject-object split, still operative in Husserl's thought; as Macann (1993) writes: "In place of the Husserlian procedure which moves from the world of the natural attitude up to a higher, transcendental plane with a view to bring to light the transcendental structures constitutive of the objectivity of the entities encountered in the natural attitude, we find an alternative procedure which moves from the ontic level down to a deeper, ontological plane with

a view to bringing to light the ontological structures constitutive of the being of the entities in question." (From Macann's (1993) Four Phenomenological Philosophers, p. 63). Heidegger, like Husserl, begins with the human being's pre-reflective, pre-ontological, lived understanding of the world, but, rather than seeking the essence of the phenomena, like Husserl, Heidegger is concerned with the ontological ground of the phenomena; that is, what makes the phenomena possible. With this methodology, Heidegger aims to ask the question of Being, the ontological, though he must begin with beings, the ontic. Heidegger's method, therefore, is hermeneutic rather than transcendental. He holds that the human being always already understands the meaning of Being, yet this has been forgotten or "covered over." Beginning with the pre-ontological, Heidegger aims to discover what the human being already knows pre- reflectively, yet which must be made explicit through the method of phenomenology.