Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy that deals with the study of human consciousness and experience. It originated in the early 20th century by Edmund Husserl, a German philosopher, who sought to understand the essence of things. One of the key concepts in phenomenology is ‘essence’.

What is Essence?

Essence refers to the fundamental nature or characteristics of something that make it what it is. According to Husserl, essence is a universal property that exists beyond individual experiences. It is not something that can be seen or touched, but rather something that can only be understood through intuition.

Types of Essence

There are two types of essence in phenomenology:

1. Eidetic Essence

Eidetic essence refers to the essential properties that define a particular object or concept. It is the core nature of something that remains constant despite any changes in its appearance or context. For example, the eidetic essence of a chair would be its functionality as a seat.

2. Empirical Essence

Empirical essence refers to the essential properties that are derived from multiple experiences or instances of an object or concept. It is based on observations and experiences rather than abstract ideas. For example, the empirical essence of a chair would include its physical characteristics like material, color, size, etc.

The Role of Essence in Phenomenology

The study of essence is central to phenomenology as it allows us to understand and describe our experiences accurately. By identifying the essential properties of an object or concept, we can gain insight into its true nature and develop a deeper understanding of our consciousness and experience.

The Process of Phenomenological Reduction

To understand essence better, Husserl developed a method called ‘phenomenological reduction’. This involves suspending all preconceptions and judgments about an object or concept and focusing solely on its essential properties. By doing so, we can uncover the true essence of something and gain a more profound understanding of our experiences.


In conclusion, essence is a crucial concept in phenomenology that allows us to understand the fundamental nature of things. It helps us to identify the essential properties of an object or concept and gain insight into our consciousness and experience. Through the process of phenomenological reduction, we can strip away all external factors and focus on the core essence of something, leading to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.