Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 539–564 | Cite as

Framing a phenomenological interview: what, why and how

  • Simon HøffdingEmail author
  • Kristian Martiny


Research in phenomenology has benefitted from using exceptional cases from pathology and expertise. But exactly how are we to generate and apply knowledge from such cases to the phenomenological domain? As researchers of cerebral palsy and musical absorption, we together answer the how question by pointing to the resource of the qualitative interview. Using the qualitative interview is a direct response to Varela’s call for better pragmatics in the methodology of phenomenology and cognitive science and Gallagher’s suggestion for phenomenology to develop its methodology and outsource its tasks. We agree with their proposals, but want to develop them further by discussing and proposing a general framework that can integrate research paradigms of the well-established disciplines of phenomenological philosophy and qualitative science. We give this the working title, a “phenomenological interview”. First we describe the what of the interview, that is the nature of the interview in which one encounters another subject and generates knowledge of a given experience together with this other subject. In the second part, we qualify why it is worthwhile making the time-consuming effort to engage in a phenomenological interview. In the third and fourth parts, we in general terms discuss how to conduct the interview and the subsequent phenomenological analysis, by discussing the pragmatics of Vermersch’s and Petitmengin’s “Explicitation Interview”.


Phenomenology Qualitative interview Co-generated knowledge Reciprocal interaction Factual (Eidetic) variation Explicitation interview 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Subjectivity Research, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark
  2. 2.Helene Elsass CenterCharlottenlundDenmark

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