Existential phenomenology

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Existential phenomenology is Martin Heidegger's brand of phenomenology. [1]

Martin Heidegger German philosopher

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition and philosophical hermeneutics, and is "widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century." Heidegger is best known for his contributions to phenomenology and existentialism, though as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy cautions, "his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification". Heidegger's membership in and public support for the Nazi Party has been the subject of widespread controversy regarding the extent to which his Nazism influenced his philosophy.

Phenomenology is the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. As a philosophical movement it was founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl and was later expanded upon by a circle of his followers at the universities of Göttingen and Munich in Germany. It then spread to France, the United States, and elsewhere, often in contexts far removed from Husserl's early work.



In contrast with his former mentor Edmund Husserl, Heidegger (in his Being and Time ) put ontology before epistemology and thought that phenomenology would have to be based on an observation and analysis of Dasein ("being-there"), human being, investigating the fundamental ontology of the Lebenswelt (lifeworld, Husserl's term) underlying all so-called regional ontologies of the special sciences. In Heidegger's philosophy, people are thrown into the world in a given situation, but they are also a project towards the future, possibility, freedom, wait, hope, anguish. [2] In contrast with the philosopher Kierkegaard, Heidegger wanted to explore the problem of Dasein existentially (existenzial), rather than existentielly (existenziell) because Heidegger argued Kierkegaard had already described the latter with "penetrating fashion".[ citation needed ]

Edmund Husserl German philosopher, known as the father of phenomenology

Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a German philosopher who established the school of phenomenology. In his early work, he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic based on analyses of intentionality. In his mature work, he sought to develop a systematic foundational science based on the so-called phenomenological reduction. Arguing that transcendental consciousness sets the limits of all possible knowledge, Husserl redefined phenomenology as a transcendental-idealist philosophy. Husserl's thought profoundly influenced the landscape of 20th-century philosophy, and he remains a notable figure in contemporary philosophy and beyond.

<i>Being and Time</i> Philosophy book by Martin Heidegger

Being and Time is a 1927 book by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, in which the author seeks to analyse the concept of Being. Heidegger maintains that this has fundamental importance for philosophy and that, since the time of the Ancient Greeks, philosophy has avoided the question, turning instead to the analysis of particular beings. Heidegger attempts to revive ontology through a reawakening of the question of the meaning of being. He approaches this through a fundamental ontology that is a preliminary analysis of the being of the being to whom the question of being is important, i.e., Dasein.

Ontology study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.


Besides Heidegger, other existential phenomenologists were Hannah Arendt, Karl Jaspers, Emmanuel Levinas, Gabriel Marcel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Enzo Paci  (it ) and Samuel Todes.

Hannah Arendt German-American Jewish philosopher and political theorist

Johanna "Hannah" Cohn Arendt was an American philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.

Karl Jaspers German psychiatrist and philosopher

Karl Theodor Jaspers was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers turned to philosophical inquiry and attempted to discover an innovative philosophical system. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany, though he did not accept the label.

Emmanuel Levinas French philosopher

Emmanuel Levinas was a French philosopher of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry who is known for his work related to Jewish philosophy, existentialism, ethics, phenomenology and ontology.

Other disciplines

Existential phenomenology extends also to other disciplines. For example, Leo Steinberg's essay "The Philosophical Brothel" describes Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in a perspective that is existential-phenomenological. It has also impacted architectural theory, especially in the phenomenological and Heideggerian approaches to space, place, dwelling, technology, etc. [3]

Leo Steinberg was a Russian-born American art critic and art historian.

<i>Les Demoiselles dAvignon</i> painting by Pablo Picasso

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is a large oil painting created in 1907 by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The work, part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, portrays five nude female prostitutes in a brothel on Calle de Avinyó, a street in Barcelona. Each figure is depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none is conventionally feminine. The women appear slightly menacing and are rendered with angular and disjointed body shapes. The three figures on the left exhibit facial features in the Iberian style of Picasso's native Spain, while the two on the right are shown with African mask-like features. The racial primitivism evoked in these masks, according to Picasso, moved him to "liberate an utterly original artistic style of compelling, even savage force."

Architectural theory

Architectural theory is the act of thinking, discussing, and writing about architecture. Architectural theory is taught in all architecture schools and is practiced by the world's leading architects. Some forms that architecture theory takes are the lecture or dialogue, the treatise or book, and the paper project or competition entry. Architectural theory is often didactic, and theorists tend to stay close to or work from within schools. It has existed in some form since antiquity, and as publishing became more common, architectural theory gained an increased richness. Books, magazines, and journals published an unprecedented number of works by architects and critics in the 20th century. As a result, styles and movements formed and dissolved much more quickly than the relatively enduring modes in earlier history. It is to be expected that the use of the internet will further the discourse on architecture in the 21st century.

See also


  1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998): "Phenomenological movement: 4. Existential phenomenology.
  2. Farina, Gabriella (2014). Some reflections on the phenomenological method. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences, 7(2):50–62.
  3. This is evident in the works of Christian Norberg-Schulz, as for example is the case with his book: Genius Loci, Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1980), or more recently with the numerous papers of Nader El-Bizri such as his paper: 'On Dwelling: Heideggerian Allusions to Architectural Phenomenology', Studia UBB Philosophia Volume 60 (2015): 5–30. This is also felt with the practices of architects in the Phenomenology (architecture) movement

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Maurice Merleau-Ponty French phenomenological philosopher

Maurice Jean Jacques Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. The constitution of meaning in human experience was his main interest and he wrote on perception, art, and politics. He was on the editorial board of Les Temps modernes, the leftist magazine established by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1945.

Dasein is a German word that means "being there" or "presence", and is often translated into English with the word "existence". It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger, particularly in his magnum opus Being and Time. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings. Thus it is a form of being that is aware of and must confront such issues as personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.

The phenomenology of religion concerns the experiential aspect of religion, describing religious phenomena in terms consistent with the orientation of worshippers. It views religion as made up of different components, and studies these components across religious traditions in order to gain some understanding of them.

Oskar Becker German philosopher

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Phenomenology in architecture can be understood as a discursive and realist attempt to understand and embody the philosophical insights of phenomenology. "Phenomenology shares the conviction that the critical stance proper to philosophy requires a move away from a straightforward metaphysical or empirical investigation of objects," Dr. Dan Zahavi, "to an investigation of the very framework of meaning and intelligibility that makes any such straightforward investigation possible in the first place. It precisely asks how something like objectivity is possible in the first place. Phenomenology has also made important contributions to most areas of philosophy. Contemporary phenomenology is a somewhat heterogeneous field." Its contributions in architecture are among the most significant and lasting in architecture due to architecture's direct involvement with experience.

Existentiell and existential are necessary discursive concepts used in the fundamental ontology of Dasein; whereby the former (ontic-existentiell) describes its ontic characteristics whilst the latter is an ontological-existential interpretation of the former. This, in its perspicuity is presented in Being and Time in "The Ontic Priority of the Question of Being". Therein, Dasein's priority and with it the need for different discursive concepts shows itself.

Philosophical anthropology

Philosophical anthropology, sometimes called anthropological philosophy, is a discipline dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person, and interpersonal relationships.

<i>The Origin of the Work of Art</i> book

The Origin of the Work of Art is an essay by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Heidegger drafted the text between 1935 and 1937, reworking it for publication in 1950 and again in 1960. Heidegger based his essay on a series of lectures he had previously delivered in Zurich and Frankfurt during the 1930s, first on the essence of the work of art and then on the question of the meaning of a "thing," marking the philosopher's first lectures on the notion of art.

Martin Heidegger, the 20th-century German philosopher, produced a large body of work that intended a profound change of direction for philosophy. Such was the depth of change that he found it necessary to introduce a large number of neologisms, often connected to idiomatic words and phrases in the German language.

Khôra was the territory of the Ancient Greek polis outside the city proper. The term has been used in philosophy by Plato to designate a receptacle, a space, a material substratum, or an interval. In Plato's account, khôra is neither being nor nonbeing but an interval between in which the "forms" were originally held; it "gives space" and has maternal overtones. Jacques Derrida has written a short text with the title Khôra, using his deconstructionist approach to investigate Plato's word usage. It is the origin for the recent interest in this rather obscure Greek term.

Eugen Fink German philosopher

Eugen Fink was a German philosopher.

In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger made the distinction between ontical and ontological. Ontical refers to a particular area of Being, whereas ontological ought to refer to Being as such. The history of ontology in Western philosophy is, in Heidegger's terms, properly speaking, ontical, and ontology ought to designate fundamental ontology. He says "Ontological inquiry is indeed more primordial, as over against the ontical inquiry of the positive sciences". It is from this distinction he developed his project of fundamental ontology

Daseinsanalysis is an existentialist approach to psychoanalysis. It was first developed by Ludwig Binswanger in the 1920s under the concept of "phenomenological anthropology". After the publication of "Basic Forms and Perception of Human Dasein", Binswanger would refer to his approach as Daseinsanalysis. Binswanger's approach was heavily influenced by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud. The theology of daseinsanalysis is centered on the thought that the human Dasein is open to any and all experience. That the phenomenological world is experienced freely in an undistorted way. This way initially being absent from meaning, is the basis for analysis. This theory goes opposite to dualism in the way that it proposes no gap between the human mind and measurable matter. Subjects are taught to think in the terms of being alone with oneself and grasping concepts of personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself. Binswanger believed that all mental issues stemmed from the dilemma of living with other humans and being ultimately alone.

Early phenomenology refers to the early phase of the phenomenological movement, from the 1890s until the Second World War. The figures associated with the early phenomenology are Edmund Husserl and his followers and students, particularly the members of the Göttingen and Munich Circles, as well as a number of other students of Carl Stumpf and Theodor Lipps, and excludes the later existential phenomenology inspired by Martin Heidegger. Early phenomenology can be divided into two theoretical camps: realist phenomenology, and transcendental or constitutive phenomenology.

Burt C. Hopkins is an American philosopher. He is an Associate Member of the University of Lille, UMR-CNRS 8163 STL, Permanent Faculty member of the Summer School of Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, Ca’Foscari University of Venice, former Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Seattle University (1989-2016) and Permanent Secretary of the Husserl Circle. He has been Visiting Professor at the University of Nanjing, China (2013), Visiting Professor at The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and the Koyré Center, Paris, France (2015-17), Senior Fellow at The Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2018), and most recently Researcher at The Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Science, Prague, The Capital, Czech Republic (2019).