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Origins of Phenomenology

Phenomenology and Existentialism

The word "phenomenon" describes an "appearance" in ancient Greek, which means an individual event that can be perceived with the senses. The meaning of such phenomena was introduced by the Greek skeptics. The term "phenomenology" or "phenomenological" goes back to the 18th century and can be found in Friedrich Christoph Oetinger and in Johann Heinrich Lambert. In Lambert’s New Organon or Thoughts on the Research and Designation of the True and its Distinction from Error and Appearance. According to him, the need for a theory of appearance or appearance together with a theory of the laws of thought and a such postulated by the signs as instruments of the search for truth.

Emmanuel Kant also uses the term to designate a doctrine of the limits of receptivity. From this arose, among other things, his Critique of Pure Reason.

Furthermore, the term phenomenology in Hegel‘s work, especially in the Phenomenology of Spirit, stands for the knowledge that is becoming. That is, the forms in which objects can appear in consciousness at all, hence the totality of the appearances of the spirit in consciousness, history and thought. The phenomenology of spirit sees itself as a science the experience of consciousness, which is initially still absolute immediacy (mere sensuous intuition of a reality split off from the subject), later returning to absolute knowledge (in which the active subject and the object coincide). Hegel thus aims against the naive assumption of pre-critical philosophy that the object determines knowledge, but also at eliminating the gap postulated by Kant between the subject of knowledge and its object, the thing-in-itself , which Kant regarded as unknowable and the assigned to the mere world of appearances. In contrast to what the more recent concept of phenomenology suggests, concrete human activity plays an important role in this process of mediation between subject and object.

Franz Brentano alternatively used the terms phenomenology and  phenomenological or descriptive psychology. Phenomenology only became an independent philosophical method through Edmund Husserl at the beginning of the 20th century.

Early Phenomenologists 

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