What Makes Phenomenology Unique?


Jane Flores

Phenomenology is a philosophical approach that seeks to study and understand the essence of human experience. It is a unique discipline that sets itself apart from other branches of philosophy due to its emphasis on subjective experience rather than objective reality. In this article, we will explore what makes phenomenology unique by examining some of its key features.


One of the defining characteristics of phenomenology is intentionality. This refers to the fact that consciousness is always directed towards something, whether it be an object, a thought, or a feeling.

For example, when you see a tree, your consciousness is directed towards the tree itself. Intentionality highlights the fact that our experiences are not isolated events but are always connected to objects in the world around us.

Eidetic Reduction

Another important aspect of phenomenology is eidetic reduction. This refers to the process of stripping away all non-essential characteristics of an experience in order to arrive at its essential nature. For example, if we were to contemplate the essence of a chair, we would need to strip away all its accidental properties such as color, shape, and size until we arrive at its essential nature as an object for sitting.


Phenomenology also employs a technique known as bracketing. This involves putting aside all preconceived notions about an experience in order to examine it objectively. For example, if we were to study the experience of anger, we would need to put aside any personal biases or judgments about anger and focus solely on its essential features.


Phenomenology is often criticized for being reductionist in nature due to its emphasis on stripping away non-essential characteristics in order to arrive at essential nature. However, proponents argue that this reductionism allows for a deeper understanding of human experiences by focusing on what is truly essential.

Phenomenological Reduction

Finally, phenomenology utilizes a technique known as phenomenological reduction. This involves suspending all assumptions about the world and focusing solely on the experience itself. By doing so, we can gain a deeper understanding of the essence of human experience without being influenced by external factors.

In conclusion, phenomenology is a unique philosophical discipline that emphasizes subjective experience above objective reality. It employs techniques such as intentionality, eidetic reduction, bracketing, and reductionism to gain a deeper understanding of human experiences. While it may be criticized for being reductionist in nature, proponents argue that this allows for a more thorough exploration of the essential nature of human experiences.