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Phenomenology is a philosophical current that takes intuitive experience as starting point and tries to establish the essential features of experience and the essence of what we experience.


Phenomenology was mostly based on the work of Edmund Husserl (student of Franz Brentano—philosopher and psychologist). His work was further developed by philosophers such as Martin Heidegger (and his student Hannah Arendt), Max Scheller, M. Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenological thought influenced the development of French existentialism, represented especially by Jean-Paul Sartre (author of “L’Etre et le Neant”) and Simone de Beauvoir. The term in discussion was used several times before Husserl (e.g. Im. Kant, G.W.F Hegel, Brentano, S. Kierkegaard), but is Husserl who redefined it and elevate it at status of psychological and epistemological discipline to study the essences. As we mentioned before, Husserl owns much to his teacher from Vienna, Franz Brentano. From Husserl’s point of view, philosophy analyzed exclusively external existence, forgetting the fact that all determinations which we establish about this existence are produced by our consciousness. The main object of phenomenology is consciousness, because what we name reality is a sum of experiences and successive states of the consciousness. What defines our consciousness first of all is intentionality. That means that a consciousness is always intentional. This attribute describes the relationship between mental acts and external world. Every mental phenomenon has an object to which it refers (a desire, a belief have as correspondents the desired, the believed). So, the knowledge must be redirected from objects to the consciousness that gives them sense and value. Husserl almost transformed philosophy into an accurate science.


After the publication of the “Logical investigations”, Husserl made some research and developed the transcendental phenomenology, concentrated more on the ideal, essential structures of consciousness. This new direction is represented by philosophers such as Oskar Becker, Alfred Schutz. All those who criticized the new theory, preferred the earlier realist phenomenology. Among them we mention Max Scheller, Nicolai Hartmann, Roman Ingarden. The most famous development of Husserl’s phenomenology is existential phenomenology. Its major exponent is German philosopher Martin Heidegger - author of “Sein und Zeit”. While Husserl thought philosophy to be a scientific discipline, Heidegger thought that philosophy is more fundamental than science itself. ”Being is the proper and sole theme of philosophy.” - he said. For Husserl, being is only a correlate of consciousness; for Heidegger is its starting point. In his book “My way to Phenomenology”, Heidegger shows how impressed he was while participating at Husserl‘s seminaries. This main philosophical current of 20th century influenced also: hermeneutics, structuralism and deconstruction.