Photo credit: E.Kidd
My work and practice is about getting to know the world, in terms of itself and on its own terms. I do this by engaging with life and the phenomena that I wish to study by being open, receptive and using all my ways of knowing, such as intellectual, imaginative, intuitive, sense perception.
I use a dynamic way of seeing, and engage in what you could call phenomenological studies of the world. I know that’s rather a mouthful, but its essentially about getting to know the whole picture, the life and the livingness of something, by tending to all of it as a whole. This involves paying attention to our experience life, such as an object, a part of nature, a person, or a place, rather than breaking the subject into parts and getting to know it only through abstract knowledge and concepts.
Phenomenology emerged as a philosophical discipline in European thought of the 20th Century. It is now practiced as a qualitative research methodology in many areas including psychology and the social sciences. It can be describe as: “The study of phenomena as experienced by human beings. The primary emphasis is on the phenomenon itself exactly as it reveals itself to the experiencing person in all its concreteness and particularity.”
Key words and phrases:
– looking, trying to see, describing, interpreting
– seeking to empathic and open
– trying to allow the ‘thing’ to describe itself
– trying to set aside preconceptions, assumptions, and prejudices
– describing critically yet fairly
– describing the thing or experience as it is experienced
– seeking underlying pattern in the midst of specific instances
(Definition and key words from a paper on Phenomenology assembled by David Seamon, Department of Architecture at Kansas State University)
Below are some notes that we can use as a loose guide when getting to know something phenomenologically, and form a summary of the guidelines that I give to participants during my workshops.(You can also download a more detailed version here: Guidelines_for_undertaking_an_ongoing_phenomenolog.)