What Type of Science Is Phenomenology?


Vincent White

Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy that focuses on subjective experiences and consciousness. It aims to understand the essence of things by examining how they appear to us, rather than studying their objective properties. In this article, we will explore what type of science phenomenology is and how it differs from other sciences.

What is Phenomenology?

Phenomenology was first developed by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century. He believed that traditional philosophy relied too heavily on abstract concepts and logical deductions, without taking into account subjective experiences. Phenomenology seeks to remedy this by examining how things appear to us in our consciousness.

Phenomenologists study different aspects of experience, such as perception, emotion, imagination, memory, and intentionality (the ability to direct our thoughts towards something). They seek to uncover the structures that underlie these experiences and how they relate to one another.

How Does Phenomenology Differ From Other Sciences?

Phenomenology is often considered a human science because it deals with subjective experiences rather than objective facts. It differs from natural sciences like physics or chemistry because it does not rely on empirical observations or experiments. Instead, phenomenologists use a method called “phenomenological reduction” to suspend their assumptions about the world and focus solely on the phenomena themselves.

Phenomenology also differs from psychology in that it does not attempt to explain why people experience things in certain ways. Instead, it seeks to describe those experiences in detail and uncover their underlying structures. This approach has been influential in fields like psychiatry and psychotherapy, where understanding patients’ subjective experiences is crucial for effective treatment.

  • Existential Phenomenology: This branch of phenomenology explores how humans experience their existence in relation to other beings and objects around them.
  • Hermeneutic Phenomenology: This type of phenomenology focuses on how we interpret and make sense of our experiences, particularly in the context of language and culture.
  • Transcendental Phenomenology: This branch seeks to uncover the fundamental structures that underlie all human experience, such as time, space, and consciousness.

The Importance of Phenomenology

Phenomenology has had a significant impact on philosophy, psychology, and other fields. It has helped to shift the focus of inquiry from abstract concepts to concrete experiences and has provided a framework for understanding subjective phenomena.

In psychology, phenomenology has influenced approaches like humanistic psychology and existential therapy. These fields emphasize the importance of subjective experience in understanding human behavior and well-being.

Phenomenology has also been influential in art, literature, and film. Many artists have used phenomenological insights to explore themes like perception, identity, and subjectivity.


In conclusion, phenomenology is a unique approach to understanding human experience that focuses on subjective phenomena rather than objective facts. It differs from other sciences in its emphasis on detailed description rather than explanation or prediction. By uncovering the underlying structures of our experiences, phenomenology has provided valuable insights into fields like psychology, art, and literature.