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Phenomenological Psychology: A Brief History and Its Challenges

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The phenomenology-psychology dialogue has been taking place for over 100 years now and it is still not clear how the two disciplines relate to each other. Part of the problem is that both disciplines have developed complexly with competing, not easily integratable perspectives. In this article the Husserlian phenomenological perspective is adopted and Husserl’s understanding of how phenomenology can help psychology is clarified. Then the usage of phenomenology within the historical scientific tradition of psychology is examined to see the senses of phenomenology that were employed in that tradition. The German literature of psychology between the founding of the discipline and the beginning of the Nazi regime indicates quite clearly that the phenomenological perspective was part of the mainstream psychology of that era. The article ends by listing four difficult challenges that have to be met if a viable psychology based upon Husserlian phenomenology is to be possible.

Affiliations: 1: Saybrook University

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