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Phenomenological Psychological Research as Science

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Abstract Part of teaching the descriptive phenomenological psychological method is to assist students in grasping their previously unrecognized assumptions regarding the meaning of “science.” This paper is intended to address a variety of assumptions that are encountered when introducing students to the descriptive phenomenological psychological method pioneered by Giorgi. These assumptions are: 1) That the meaning of “science” is exhausted by empirical science, and therefore qualitative research, even if termed “human science,” is more akin to literature or art than methodical, scientific inquiry; 2) That as a primarily aesthetic, poetic enterprise human scientific psychology need not attempt to achieve a degree of rigor and epistemological clarity analogous (while not equivalent) to that pursued by natural scientists; 3) That “objectivity” is a concept belonging to natural science, and therefore human science ought not to strive for objectivity because this would require “objectivizing” the human being; 4) That qualitative research must always adopt an “interpretive” approach, description being seen as merely a mode of interpretation. These assumptions are responded to from a perspective drawing primarily upon Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, but also upon Eagleton’s analysis of aestheticism.

Affiliations: 1: Saybrook University

10.1163/156916212X632952
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Abstract Part of teaching the descriptive phenomenological psychological method is to assist students in grasping their previously unrecognized assumptions regarding the meaning of “science.” This paper is intended to address a variety of assumptions that are encountered when introducing students to the descriptive phenomenological psychological method pioneered by Giorgi. These assumptions are: 1) That the meaning of “science” is exhausted by empirical science, and therefore qualitative research, even if termed “human science,” is more akin to literature or art than methodical, scientific inquiry; 2) That as a primarily aesthetic, poetic enterprise human scientific psychology need not attempt to achieve a degree of rigor and epistemological clarity analogous (while not equivalent) to that pursued by natural scientists; 3) That “objectivity” is a concept belonging to natural science, and therefore human science ought not to strive for objectivity because this would require “objectivizing” the human being; 4) That qualitative research must always adopt an “interpretive” approach, description being seen as merely a mode of interpretation. These assumptions are responded to from a perspective drawing primarily upon Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, but also upon Eagleton’s analysis of aestheticism.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-03

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