Phenomenology is a philosophical approach that emphasizes the study of subjective experience. It aims to describe the essential features of conscious experience, including perception, thought, emotion, and action. One of the key concepts in phenomenology is bracketing.
Bracketing refers to the process of suspending one’s beliefs, assumptions, and preconceptions about a particular phenomenon in order to arrive at a more accurate description of it. This involves setting aside one’s natural attitude or everyday way of thinking about the phenomenon and adopting an attitude of openness and receptivity.
The term “bracketing” comes from the French word “époché”, which means “to set aside” or “to suspend”. The idea is that by bracketing our assumptions and beliefs, we can gain a more direct and unfiltered access to our experiences.
There are two main types of bracketing in phenomenology: psychological bracketing and existential bracketing.
Psychological bracketing involves setting aside one’s personal biases and prejudices when investigating a particular phenomenon. This means recognizing that our personal experiences and beliefs may influence how we perceive and interpret things.
Existential bracketing, on the other hand, involves setting aside broader cultural or societal assumptions and beliefs when investigating a phenomenon. This means recognizing that our cultural background may influence how we understand certain phenomena.
Both types of bracketing are important for gaining a more accurate understanding of subjective experience. By suspending our assumptions and beliefs, we can avoid imposing them on our descriptions of phenomena. This allows us to describe experiences as they are actually lived rather than as we think they should be.
In practice, bracketing can be difficult to achieve completely. Our beliefs and assumptions are often deeply ingrained in us and may be difficult to set aside entirely. However, even partial bracketing can be helpful in gaining new insights into subjective experience.
Overall, bracketing is a key concept in phenomenology that emphasizes the importance of suspending our assumptions and beliefs in order to gain a more accurate understanding of subjective experience. Through bracketing, we can gain a more direct and unfiltered access to our experiences, leading to deeper insights and greater understanding.