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On the Study of Human Experience

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Abstract

What is phenomenology and how does one practice it? In this chapter I will attempt to answer these two questions in a nontechnical way and will also show that phenomenology is not esoteric but an approach that intuitively makes sense. However, by stating that this approach makes sense intuitively, I do not mean that phenomenology is in accord with common sense, understood as the array of opinions that a group or an individual takes for granted as being self-evidently true, that is, the clichés, prejudices, or assumptions that all of us carry around with us. Rather, by speaking of the intuitive, I am referring to insights or understandings that relate to our immediate experience of the world and of ourselves. Mainstream psychology textbooks also point to how research findings contradict common sense, but imply that our experience of the world is unreliable. In their classic social psychology textbook (1967), Edward Jones and Harold Gerard cite criticisms directed at a large-scale study conducted by Samuel Stouffer and his colleagues of the professional and psychological adjustment of American soldiers during World War II.3 The critics basically argued that the conclusions belabored the obvious. Jones and Gerard also quote at length the spirited defense of such studies by the sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, who pointed out that many of the conclusions of Stouffer and his colleagues were contrary to what most people would have expected.4

Keywords

  • Natural Science
  • Human Experience
  • Human Science
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Meaning Unit

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.

The ultimate test of a study’s worth is that the findings ring true to people and let them see things in a new way

David A. Karp1

When we psychologists, perennially anxious about our identity as scientists, insist that science making is totally different in kind from other exercises of the human intellect, we are perpetuating a false dogma, the effect of which on the future of the field can only be pernicious.

William Bevan2

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Notes

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© 2008 Steen Halling

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Halling, S. (2008). On the Study of Human Experience. In: Intimacy, Transcendence, and Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230610255_6

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