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Qualitative Research and its Uses in Health Care


❶However, concepts drawn from earlier work are supposed to be held lightly and to be subject to reformulation or rejection by the researcher especially as the study goes on and the research progresses.


1. What is Phenomenology?

This conception of phenomena would soon inform the new discipline of phenomenology. Brentano distinguished descriptive psychology from genetic psychology. Where genetic psychology seeks the causes of various types of mental phenomena, descriptive psychology defines and classifies the various types of mental phenomena, including perception, judgment, emotion, etc.

According to Brentano, every mental phenomenon, or act of consciousness, is directed toward some object, and only mental phenomena are so directed. Phenomenology as we know it was launched by Edmund Husserl in his Logical Investigations — Two importantly different lines of theory came together in that monumental work: In his Theory of Science Bolzano distinguished between subjective and objective ideas or representations Vorstellungen.

In effect Bolzano criticized Kant and before him the classical empiricists and rationalists for failing to make this sort of distinction, thereby rendering phenomena merely subjective. Logic studies objective ideas, including propositions, which in turn make up objective theories as in the sciences. Psychology would, by contrast, study subjective ideas, the concrete contents occurrences of mental activities in particular minds at a given time.

Husserl was after both, within a single discipline. So phenomena must be reconceived as objective intentional contents sometimes called intentional objects of subjective acts of consciousness. Phenomenology would then study this complex of consciousness and correlated phenomena. The intentional process of consciousness is called noesis , while its ideal content is called noema.

Thus the phenomenon, or object-as-it-appears, becomes the noema, or object-as-it-is-intended. Is the noema an aspect of the object intended, or rather a medium of intention? For Husserl, then, phenomenology integrates a kind of psychology with a kind of logic. It develops a descriptive or analytic psychology in that it describes and analyzes types of subjective mental activity or experience, in short, acts of consciousness.

Yet it develops a kind of logic—a theory of meaning today we say logical semantics —in that it describes and analyzes objective contents of consciousness: These contents are shareable by different acts of consciousness, and in that sense they are objective, ideal meanings.

Following Bolzano and to some extent the platonistic logician Hermann Lotze , Husserl opposed any reduction of logic or mathematics or science to mere psychology, to how people happen to think, and in the same spirit he distinguished phenomenology from mere psychology.

For Husserl, phenomenology would study consciousness without reducing the objective and shareable meanings that inhabit experience to merely subjective happenstances. Ideal meaning would be the engine of intentionality in acts of consciousness. With theoretical foundations laid in the Investigations , Husserl would then promote the radical new science of phenomenology in Ideas I And alternative visions of phenomenology would soon follow. Phenomenology came into its own with Husserl, much as epistemology came into its own with Descartes, and ontology or metaphysics came into its own with Aristotle on the heels of Plato.

Yet phenomenology has been practiced, with or without the name, for many centuries. When Hindu and Buddhist philosophers reflected on states of consciousness achieved in a variety of meditative states, they were practicing phenomenology.

When Descartes, Hume, and Kant characterized states of perception, thought, and imagination, they were practicing phenomenology. When Brentano classified varieties of mental phenomena defined by the directedness of consciousness , he was practicing phenomenology. When William James appraised kinds of mental activity in the stream of consciousness including their embodiment and their dependence on habit , he too was practicing phenomenology.

And when recent analytic philosophers of mind have addressed issues of consciousness and intentionality, they have often been practicing phenomenology. Still, the discipline of phenomenology, its roots tracing back through the centuries, came to full flower in Husserl.

The diversity of traditional phenomenology is apparent in the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology Kluwer Academic Publishers, , Dordrecht and Boston , which features separate articles on some seven types of phenomenology. The most famous of the classical phenomenologists were Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. In these four thinkers we find different conceptions of phenomenology, different methods, and different results.

A brief sketch of their differences will capture both a crucial period in the history of phenomenology and a sense of the diversity of the field of phenomenology. In his Logical Investigations —01 Husserl outlined a complex system of philosophy, moving from logic to philosophy of language, to ontology theory of universals and parts of wholes , to a phenomenological theory of intentionality, and finally to a phenomenological theory of knowledge.

Then in Ideas I he focused squarely on phenomenology itself. In this spirit, we may say phenomenology is the study of consciousness—that is, conscious experience of various types—as experienced from the first-person point of view.

In this discipline we study different forms of experience just as we experience them, from the perspective of the subject living through or performing them. Thus, we characterize experiences of seeing, hearing, imagining, thinking, feeling i.

However, not just any characterization of an experience will do. Phenomenological analysis of a given type of experience will feature the ways in which we ourselves would experience that form of conscious activity. And the leading property of our familiar types of experience is their intentionality, their being a consciousness of or about something, something experienced or presented or engaged in a certain way.

How I see or conceptualize or understand the object I am dealing with defines the meaning of that object in my current experience. Thus, phenomenology features a study of meaning, in a wide sense that includes more than what is expressed in language. In Ideas I Husserl presented phenomenology with a transcendental turn. We thereby turn our attention, in reflection, to the structure of our own conscious experience. Our first key result is the observation that each act of consciousness is a consciousness of something, that is, intentional, or directed toward something.

Consider my visual experience wherein I see a tree across the square. In phenomenological reflection, we need not concern ourselves with whether the tree exists: However, we do need to concern ourselves with how the object is meant or intended. I see a Eucalyptus tree, not a Yucca tree; I see that object as a Eucalyptus, with a certain shape, with bark stripping off, etc.

Thus, bracketing the tree itself, we turn our attention to my experience of the tree, and specifically to the content or meaning in my experience. This tree-as-perceived Husserl calls the noema or noematic sense of the experience. Philosophers succeeding Husserl debated the proper characterization of phenomenology, arguing over its results and its methods.

And they were not alone. Heidegger had his own ideas about phenomenology. In Being and Time Heidegger unfurled his rendition of phenomenology.

By contrast, Heidegger held that our more basic ways of relating to things are in practical activities like hammering, where the phenomenology reveals our situation in a context of equipment and in being-with-others. Much of Being and Time develops an existential interpretation of our modes of being including, famously, our being-toward-death.

In a very different style, in clear analytical prose, in the text of a lecture course called The Basic Problems of Phenomenology , Heidegger traced the question of the meaning of being from Aristotle through many other thinkers into the issues of phenomenology. Our understanding of beings and their being comes ultimately through phenomenology. Heidegger questioned the contemporary concern with technology, and his writing might suggest that our scientific theories are historical artifacts that we use in technological practice, rather than systems of ideal truth as Husserl had held.

Our deep understanding of being, in our own case, comes rather from phenomenology, Heidegger held. In the s phenomenology migrated from Austrian and then German philosophy into French philosophy. In the novel Nausea Jean-Paul Sartre described a bizarre course of experience in which the protagonist, writing in the first person, describes how ordinary objects lose their meaning until he encounters pure being at the foot of a chestnut tree, and in that moment recovers his sense of his own freedom.

In Being and Nothingness , written partly while a prisoner of war , Sartre developed his conception of phenomenological ontology. Consciousness is a consciousness of objects, as Husserl had stressed. The chestnut tree I see is, for Sartre, such a phenomenon in my consciousness.

For Sartre, the practice of phenomenology proceeds by a deliberate reflection on the structure of consciousness. Sartre wrote many plays and novels and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In Phenomenology of Perception Merleau-Ponty developed a rich variety of phenomenology emphasizing the role of the body in human experience.

Unlike Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, Merleau-Ponty looked to experimental psychology, analyzing the reported experience of amputees who felt sensations in a phantom limb. Merleau-Ponty rejected both associationist psychology, focused on correlations between sensation and stimulus, and intellectualist psychology, focused on rational construction of the world in the mind.

Think of the behaviorist and computationalist models of mind in more recent decades of empirical psychology. For the body image is neither in the mental realm nor in the mechanical-physical realm. Rather, my body is, as it were, me in my engaged action with things I perceive including other people. The scope of Phenomenology of Perception is characteristic of the breadth of classical phenomenology, not least because Merleau-Ponty drew with generosity on Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre while fashioning his own innovative vision of phenomenology.

His phenomenology addressed the role of attention in the phenomenal field, the experience of the body, the spatiality of the body, the motility of the body, the body in sexual being and in speech, other selves, temporality, and the character of freedom so important in French existentialism.

In short, consciousness is embodied in the world , and equally body is infused with consciousness with cognition of the world. In the years since Husserl, Heidegger, et al.

Interpretation of historical texts by Husserl et al. Since the s, philosophers trained in the methods of analytic philosophy have also dug into the foundations of phenomenology, with an eye to 20 th century work in philosophy of logic, language, and mind. Analytic phenomenology picks up on that connection. For Frege, an expression refers to an object by way of a sense: For Husserl, similarly, an experience or act of consciousness intends or refers to an object by way of a noema or noematic sense: Indeed, for Husserl, the theory of intentionality is a generalization of the theory of linguistic reference: More recently, analytic philosophers of mind have rediscovered phenomenological issues of mental representation, intentionality, consciousness, sensory experience, intentional content, and context-of-thought.

Some researchers have begun to combine phenomenological issues with issues of neuroscience and behavioral studies and mathematical modeling.

Such studies will extend the methods of traditional phenomenology as the Zeitgeist moves on. We address philosophy of mind below. The discipline of phenomenology forms one basic field in philosophy among others. How is phenomenology distinguished from, and related to, other fields in philosophy?

Traditionally, philosophy includes at least four core fields or disciplines: Suppose phenomenology joins that list. Consider then these elementary definitions of field:. The domains of study in these five fields are clearly different, and they seem to call for different methods of study. Historically it may be argued , Socrates and Plato put ethics first, then Aristotle put metaphysics or ontology first, then Descartes put epistemology first, then Russell put logic first, and then Husserl in his later transcendental phase put phenomenology first.

As we saw, phenomenology helps to define the phenomena on which knowledge claims rest, according to modern epistemology. On the other hand, phenomenology itself claims to achieve knowledge about the nature of consciousness, a distinctive kind of first-person knowledge, through a form of intuition.

As we saw, logical theory of meaning led Husserl into the theory of intentionality, the heart of phenomenology. On one account, phenomenology explicates the intentional or semantic force of ideal meanings, and propositional meanings are central to logical theory. But logical structure is expressed in language, either ordinary language or symbolic languages like those of predicate logic or mathematics or computer systems.

It remains an important issue of debate where and whether language shapes specific forms of experience thought, perception, emotion and their content or meaning. So there is an important if disputed relation between phenomenology and logico-linguistic theory, especially philosophical logic and philosophy of language as opposed to mathematical logic per se.

Phenomenology studies among other things the nature of consciousness, which is a central issue in metaphysics or ontology, and one that leads into the traditional mind-body problem. Husserlian methodology would bracket the question of the existence of the surrounding world, thereby separating phenomenology from the ontology of the world. Phenomenology might play a role in ethics by offering analyses of the structure of will, valuing, happiness, and care for others in empathy and sympathy.

Historically, though, ethics has been on the horizon of phenomenology. Husserl largely avoided ethics in his major works, though he featured the role of practical concerns in the structure of the life-world or of Geist spirit, or culture, as in Zeitgeist , and he once delivered a course of lectures giving ethics like logic a basic place in philosophy, indicating the importance of the phenomenology of sympathy in grounding ethics.

Beauvoir sketched an existentialist ethics, and Sartre left unpublished notebooks on ethics. However, an explicitly phenomenological approach to ethics emerged in the works of Emannuel Levinas, a Lithuanian phenomenologist who heard Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg before moving to Paris.

Allied with ethics are political and social philosophy. Sartre and Merleau-Ponty were politically engaged in s Paris, and their existential philosophies phenomenologically based suggest a political theory based in individual freedom.

Sartre later sought an explicit blend of existentialism with Marxism. Still, political theory has remained on the borders of phenomenology. Social theory, however, has been closer to phenomenology as such. Husserl analyzed the phenomenological structure of the life-world and Geist generally, including our role in social activity. Heidegger stressed social practice, which he found more primordial than individual consciousness.

Alfred Schutz developed a phenomenology of the social world. Sartre continued the phenomenological appraisal of the meaning of the other, the fundamental social formation. Moving outward from phenomenological issues, Michel Foucault studied the genesis and meaning of social institutions, from prisons to insane asylums. Classical phenomenology, then, ties into certain areas of epistemology, logic, and ontology, and leads into parts of ethical, social, and political theory.

It ought to be obvious that phenomenology has a lot to say in the area called philosophy of mind. Yet the traditions of phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind have not been closely joined, despite overlapping areas of interest. So it is appropriate to close this survey of phenomenology by addressing philosophy of mind, one of the most vigorously debated areas in recent philosophy.

The tradition of analytic philosophy began, early in the 20th century, with analyses of language, notably in the works of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Then in The Concept of Mind Gilbert Ryle developed a series of analyses of language about different mental states, including sensation, belief, and will. Though Ryle is commonly deemed a philosopher of ordinary language, Ryle himself said The Concept of Mind could be called phenomenology.

In effect, Ryle analyzed our phenomenological understanding of mental states as reflected in ordinary language about the mind. Centuries later, phenomenology would find, with Brentano and Husserl, that mental acts are characterized by consciousness and intentionality, while natural science would find that physical systems are characterized by mass and force, ultimately by gravitational, electromagnetic, and quantum fields.

Where do we find consciousness and intentionality in the quantum-electromagnetic-gravitational field that, by hypothesis, orders everything in the natural world in which we humans and our minds exist? That is the mind-body problem today. In short, phenomenology by any other name lies at the heart of the contemporary mind-body problem.

After Ryle, philosophers sought a more explicit and generally naturalistic ontology of mind. In the s materialism was argued anew, urging that mental states are identical with states of the central nervous system.

A stronger materialism holds, instead, that each type of mental state is identical with a type of brain state. But materialism does not fit comfortably with phenomenology. For it is not obvious how conscious mental states as we experience them—sensations, thoughts, emotions—can simply be the complex neural states that somehow subserve or implement them.

If mental states and neural states are simply identical, in token or in type, where in our scientific theory of mind does the phenomenology occur—is it not simply replaced by neuroscience? And yet experience is part of what is to be explained by neuroscience. In the late s and s the computer model of mind set in, and functionalism became the dominant model of mind.

On this model, mind is not what the brain consists in electrochemical transactions in neurons in vast complexes. Instead, mind is what brains do: Thus, a mental state is a functional state of the brain or of the human or animal organism.

More specifically, on a favorite variation of functionalism, the mind is a computing system: Since the s the cognitive sciences—from experimental studies of cognition to neuroscience—have tended toward a mix of materialism and functionalism. Gradually, however, philosophers found that phenomenological aspects of the mind pose problems for the functionalist paradigm too. Many philosophers pressed the case that sensory qualia—what it is like to feel pain, to see red, etc.

Consciousness has properties of its own. And yet, we know, it is closely tied to the brain. And, at some level of description, neural activities implement computation. In the s John Searle argued in Intentionality and further in The Rediscovery of the Mind that intentionality and consciousness are essential properties of mental states. Searle also argued that computers simulate but do not have mental states characterized by intentionality.

As Searle argued, a computer system has a syntax processing symbols of certain shapes but has no semantics the symbols lack meaning: In this way Searle rejected both materialism and functionalism, while insisting that mind is a biological property of organisms like us: However, there is an important difference in background theory.

For Searle explicitly assumes the basic worldview of natural science, holding that consciousness is part of nature. But Husserl explicitly brackets that assumption, and later phenomenologists—including Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty—seem to seek a certain sanctuary for phenomenology beyond the natural sciences. And yet phenomenology itself should be largely neutral about further theories of how experience arises, notably from brain activity.

Since the late s, and especially the late s, a variety of writers working in philosophy of mind have focused on the fundamental character of consciousness, ultimately a phenomenological issue. Does consciousness always and essentially involve self-consciousness, or consciousness-of-consciousness, as Brentano, Husserl, and Sartre held in varying detail?

If so, then every act of consciousness either includes or is adjoined by a consciousness-of-that-consciousness. Does that self-consciousness take the form of an internal self-monitoring? If so, is that monitoring of a higher order, where each act of consciousness is joined by a further mental act monitoring the base act?

Or is such monitoring of the same order as the base act, a proper part of the act without which the act would not be conscious? A variety of models of this self-consciousness have been developed, some explicitly drawing on or adapting views in Brentano, Husserl, and Sartre. Two recent collections address these issues: David Woodruff Smith and Amie L. The philosophy of mind may be factored into the following disciplines or ranges of theory relevant to mind:.

Phenomenology offers descriptive analyses of mental phenomena, while neuroscience and wider biology and ultimately physics offers models of explanation of what causes or gives rise to mental phenomena. Cultural theory offers analyses of social activities and their impact on experience, including ways language shapes our thought, emotion, and motivation.

And ontology frames all these results within a basic scheme of the structure of the world, including our own minds. The ontological distinction among the form, appearance, and substrate of an activity of consciousness is detailed in D.

Meanwhile, from an epistemological standpoint, all these ranges of theory about mind begin with how we observe and reason about and seek to explain phenomena we encounter in the world.

And that is where phenomenology begins. Moreover, how we understand each piece of theory, including theory about mind, is central to the theory of intentionality, as it were, the semantics of thought and experience in general. And that is the heart of phenomenology. Phenomenological issues, by any other name, have played a prominent role in very recent philosophy of mind. Amplifying the theme of the previous section, we note two such issues: This subjective phenomenal character of consciousness is held to be constitutive or definitive of consciousness.

What is the form of that phenomenal character we find in consciousness? A prominent line of analysis holds that the phenomenal character of a mental activity consists in a certain form of awareness of that activity, an awareness that by definition renders it conscious. Since the s a variety of models of that awareness have been developed. As noted above, there are models that define this awareness as a higher-order monitoring, either an inner perception of the activity a form of inner sense per Kant or inner consciousness per Brentano , or an inner thought about the activity.

A further model analyzes such awareness as an integral part of the experience, a form of self-representation within the experience. For example, in The Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time Husserl describes the phenomenon of being conscious of an individual, actual tone. However, although Husserl's descriptions may begin at this basic level, they are often considerably more lengthy, involved and complex. For example, they often range from descriptions of the singular and empirical to descriptions of the essential and universal.

Husserlian descriptions often depict the essential or invariant structures of conscious experience. For example, immediately after he describes the singular example of naming his inkpot in Logical Investigations he proceeds to describe the phenomenon of naming at the more general, invariant and essential level.

Heidegger's explication of phenomenological description is sketched out in the Introduction to Being and Time. By examining the way phenomena immediately present themselves, we can get insight into how revealing as such occurs. For Heidegger, truth is always revealing — aletheia. Important to note is that Heidegger's method of phenomenology is that it represents a new tradition of "hermeneutic phenomenology" as opposed to merely descriptive, as in the Husserlian tradition.

Sartre's Nausea gives immediate first-person accounts of the main character Antoine Roquentin's lived experience. He describes the way objects lose their meaning and nausea disturbingly creeps up on him unexpectedly. His worst encounter is in a park with a tree root, where he realizes the gift and burden of human freedom as compared to other non-conscious beings. Sartre vividly characterizes what appears in the foreground of Antoine's awareness, including all of the ambiguity and confusion that is usually abstracted away in traditional or realist novels.

Phenomenological description has found widespread application within psychology and the cognitive sciences. For example, Maurice Merleau-Ponty is the first well known phenomenologist to openly mingle the results of empirical research with phenomenologically descriptive research. Contemporarily, diverse theorists such as Shaun Gallagher , Dieter Lohmar, Natalie Depraz and Francisco Varela fall under the broad umbrella of what's being termed "hybrid" theorists, drawing on both phenomenological description and research from modern cognitive science.

Phenomenological research characteristically starts with concrete descriptions of lived situations, often first-person accounts, set down in everyday language and avoiding abstract intellectual generalizations. The researcher proceeds by reflectively analyzing these descriptions, perhaps idiographically first, then by offering a synthesized account, for example, identifying general themes about the essence of the phenomenon.

2. The Discipline of Phenomenology

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qualitative research research dealing with phenomena that are difficult or impossible to quantify mathematically, such as beliefs, meanings, attributes, and symbols; it .

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Qualitative research involves examining non-numerical data in-depth. One type of qualitative research is phenomenological research, which involves trying to understand the universal experience of a phenomenon through interviews with subjects. There are many strengths to phenomenology, including that it offers a rich and detailed view of .

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What is Phenomenological Research? By Marilyn K. Simon and Jim Goes Includes excerpts from Simon (), Dissertation and Scholarly One of the most popular qualitative methodologies used in doctoral dissertations is phenomenology. According to Christensen, Johnson, and Turner () the. Phenomenology in business research focuses on experiences, events and occurrences with disregard or minimum regard for the external and physical reality. Phenomenology, also known as non-positivism, is a variation of interpretivism, along with other variations such as hermeneutics, symbolic interactionism and others.

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Phenomenology definition is - the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness as a preface to or a part of philosophy. . A qualitative "approach" is a general way of thinking about conducting qualitative research. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher(s), the stages of research, and the method of data analysis. here, four of the major qualitative approaches are introduced.