A Toolbox of Phenomenological Methods

  • Daniel Schmicking


In addition to a large number of misrepresentations of phenomenology,1 one can see an increasing interest in phenomenology among cognitive scientists and analytic philosophers. It is the method of phenomenology from which one expects to shed some light on the problem of consciousness. How does this approach work? What are the specific tools of phenomenology? Explanations as well as critical discussions of phenomenological methods are scattered across the literature. Moreover, the sometimes misleading or impenetrable terminology of classical phenomenology blocks easy understanding. The language of phenomenology may be an important reason why the working cognitive scientist who may be ready to delve into the primary sources of phenomenology might be discouraged, puzzled or disappointed by the notorious difficulty of many of the classical phenomenological authors.2 Thus the main goal of this essay is to offer a sketch of the methods of phenomenology, which appeals to outsiders of phenomenology, and, hopefully, to a few insiders too, if it can provide a (not quite) new way of looking at some (not quite) old ideas. After a short remark on the general character of phenomenology (Part II), phenomenological methods will be presented as a series of steps (Part III) and as a toolbox (Part IV). A concluding remark relates the offered account of method to the issue of the naturalization of phenomenology (Part V).


Phenomenological Analysis Invariant Structure Phenomenological Method Transcendental Phenomenology Phenomenological Reduction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Damasio H (2001). Words and Concepts in the Brain. In: Branquinho J (ed) The foundations of cognitive science. Clarendon, Oxford, 109-120Google Scholar
  2. Dennett D (1991) Consciousness explained. Little, Brown, Boston/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Drummond J (1990) Husserlian intentionality and non-foundational realism. Kluwer, DodrechtGoogle Scholar
  4. Embree L (2007) Reflective analysis. Zeta Books (eBook, and print on demand)Google Scholar
  5. Gallagher S (1997) Mutual enlightenment: Recent phenomenology in cognitive science. J Conscious Stud 4(3):195-214Google Scholar
  6. Gallagher S (2003) Phenomenology and experimental design: toward a phenomenologically enlightened experimental science. J Conscious Stud 10(9-10):85-99Google Scholar
  7. Gallagher S, Sørensen JB (2006) Experimenting with phenomenology. Conscious Cogn 15:119-134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gallagher S, Zahavi D (2008) The phenomenological mind. An introduction to philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Glendinning S (2007) In the name of phenomenology. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Heidegger M (1962) Being and time (trans: Macquarrie J, Robinson E). Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Heidegger M (1985) History of the concept of time (trans: Kisiel Th.). Indiana University Press, Bloomington, INGoogle Scholar
  12. Hume D (1779/1993) In: Gaskin JCA (ed) Dialogues concerning natural religion; the natural history of religion. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Husserl E (1952) Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Drittes Buch: Die Phänomenologie und die Fundamente der Wissenschaften. Nijhoff (Husserliana; V) The HagueGoogle Scholar
  14. Husserl E (1959) Erste Philosophie (1923/24). In: Boehm (ed) Zweiter Teil: Theorie der phänomenologischen Reduktion. Nijhoff. (Husserliana; VIII), The HagueGoogle Scholar
  15. Husserl E (1964) Philosophy as a rigorous science. In: Lauer Q (ed) Edmund Husserl. Phenomenology and the crisis of philosophy. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Husserl E (1967) Cartesian meditations (trans: Cairns D). Nijhoff, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  17. Husserl E (1970) The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology: an introduction to phenomenological philosophy (trans: with an Intro. by Carr D) Northwestern UP, Evanston, ILGoogle Scholar
  18. Husserl E (1973) Experience and judgment: investigations in a genealogy of logic (trans: Churchill JS, Ameriks K). Northwestern UP, Evanston, ILGoogle Scholar
  19. Husserl E (1982) Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy. First book: general introduction to a pure phenomenology (trans: Kersten F). Kluwer, Dordrecht/Boston/LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Husserl E (1988) Analysen zur passiven Synthesis. Aus Vorlesungs- und Forschungsmanuskripten (1918-1926). (ed. Fleischer) Nijhoff (Husserliana; XI) The HagueGoogle Scholar
  21. Husserl E (2001) Logical Investigations. 2 vols (trans: Findlay JN, pref: Dummett M, ed: with new intro. by Moran D) Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Ihde D (1977) Experimental phenomenology: an introduction. Putnam, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Marbach E (1993) Mental representation and consciousness: towards a phenomenological theory of representation and reference. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  24. Merleau-Ponty M (2002) Phenomenology of perception (trans: Smith C). Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Merleau-Ponty M (1963) The structure of behavior (trans: Fisher AL, foreword: Wild J). Beacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
  26. Merleau-Ponty M (1964) Signs (trans: with an intro. by McCleary RC). Northwestern University Press, EvanstonGoogle Scholar
  27. Moran D (2000) Introduction to phenomenology. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Moran D, Mooney T (eds) (2002) The phenomenology reader. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Petitmengin C (2006) Describing one’s subjective experience in the second person: an interview method for the science of consciousness. Phenomenol Cogn Sci 5(3-4):229-269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Roy J-M, Petitot J, Pauchoud B, Varela FJ (1999) Beyond the gap: An introduction to naturalizing phenomenology. In: Petitot J, Varela FJ, Pachoud B, Roy J-M (eds) Naturalizing Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1-80Google Scholar
  31. Schmicking DA (2003) Hören und Klang: empirisch phänomenologische Untersuchungen. Königshausen und Neumann, WürzburgGoogle Scholar
  32. Schmicking DA (2005) Is there imaginary loudness? Reconsidering phenomenological method. Phenomenol Cogn Sci 4(2):169-182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sokolowski R (2000) Introduction to phenomenology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  34. Spiegelberg H (1975) Doing Phenonemology: Essays on and in Phenomenology. Nijhoff, The Hague (Phaenomenologica; 63)Google Scholar
  35. Spiegelberg H, with collaboration of Schuhmann K (1994) The phenomenological movement: a historical introduction. 3rd rev. and enlarged edn. Kluwer, Dordrecht/Boston/LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. Thompson E (2007) Mind in life: biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Harvard University Press, Cambridge/LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Varela FJ (1996) Neurophenomenology. A methodological remedy for the hard problem. J Conscious Stud 3(4):330-349Google Scholar
  38. Varela FJ, Shear J (1999) First-person methodologies: what, why, how? J Conscious Stud 6(2-3):1-14Google Scholar
  39. Vermersch P (1999) Introspection as practice. J Conscious Stud 6(2-3):17-42Google Scholar
  40. Wrathall MA (2006) Existential phenomenology. In: Dreyfus HL, Wrathall MA (eds) A companion to phenomenology and existentialism. Blackwell, Malden, MA/Oxford, 31-47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zahavi D (2003) Husserl’s phenomenology. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Schmicking
    • 1
  1. 1.Johannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany

Personalised recommendations