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Gerhard Schutte

Subject Philosophy
Sociology » Social Psychology, Sociological and Social Theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Originally of philosophical origin, phenomenology reasoned that the pure meaning of phenomena were only to be subjectively apprehended and intuitively grasped in their essence. It achieved relevance to the social sciences within the tension between logical positivism and interpretivism or (in nineteenth-century terms) the natural and cultural sciences. At the turn of the twentieth century the neo-Kantians’ insistence on a distinctive epistemology and methodology for the “cultural” sciences found a well-considered resonance in German sociological thought (e.g., Weber's). The growth, explanatory force, and extension of natural science's objective perspective and positivistic methodology to the domains of the cultural sciences did not go unchallenged. It was the mathematician-turned-philosopher Edmund Husserl who laid the foundation of the twentieth-century phenomenological movement by taking to task the positivistic approach to psychology. Turning away from the external objective world as source of knowledge, Husserl reverses the perspective to that of the subject's experience of reality. This experience is always an experience “of” and is directed to the object. Husserl uses the concept of intentionality (deriving from Franz von Brentano) to describe this relationship. The subject apprehends the world through passive synthesis by giving meaning to it in an unreflective, spontaneous ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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