Is Bracketing in Phenomenology Possible?


Vincent White

Phenomenology is a philosophical approach that aims to study the essence of human consciousness and experience. It was first introduced by Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century and has since become an important field of study in both philosophy and psychology.

One of the key concepts in phenomenology is bracketing, which refers to the process of suspending judgment or belief about the existence of external objects or events. But is bracketing in phenomenology possible? Let’s explore this question further.

What is Bracketing?

Bracketing, also known as epoché, is a method used in phenomenology to help researchers focus on the subjective experience of a phenomenon rather than their preconceptions or biases. The idea behind bracketing is that by suspending judgment about external objects or events, researchers can achieve a more pure and accurate understanding of human experience.

How Does Bracketing Work?

To practice bracketing, researchers begin by setting aside any preconceived notions or beliefs about a particular phenomenon. They then engage with that phenomenon directly, paying close attention to their own subjective experience while trying to remain objective and detached from any external factors.

For example, if a researcher were studying the experience of pain, they would not allow their own beliefs about what causes pain or how it should be treated to influence their observations. Instead, they would focus solely on the subjective experience of pain as it is being experienced by participants.

Is Bracketing Possible?

The question of whether bracketing is possible has been debated by philosophers for decades. Some argue that it’s impossible for humans to completely set aside their preconceptions and biases, while others believe that with practice it can be achieved to some degree.

One criticism of bracketing is that it assumes that there is an objective reality beyond our subjective experiences. If everything we perceive is filtered through our own consciousness, then it’s impossible to completely separate ourselves from our preconceptions and biases.

However, proponents of bracketing argue that while we may never achieve a completely objective understanding of a phenomenon, the practice of bracketing can still help us gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of human experience.


In conclusion, while the question of whether bracketing is possible remains debated, it’s clear that the practice of suspending judgment or belief can be a valuable tool in phenomenological research. By setting aside our preconceptions and biases, we can gain a more accurate understanding of human experience and consciousness. While we may never achieve complete objectivity, the pursuit of it can still lead to valuable insights and discoveries.