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Intentionality and Narrativity in Phenomenological Research



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Expanded version of presentation given at Meiji University, Tokyo, 30 July 2016

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Intentionality and Narrativity in Phenomenological Research

  1. 1. Intentionality & Narrativity in Phenomenological Research Human Science and Phenomenology: Reconsidering the Approach to Experiences of Others Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan 30 July 2016 Marc Applebaum PhD
  2. 2. Expanded presentation This is an expanded version of the presentation I gave at Meiji University in Tokyo on June 30, 2016, as part of a workshop kindly organized by Drs. Shogo Tanaka and Kayoko Ueda. Dr. Ueda, Dr. Masahiro Nochi, and Dr. Susi Ferrarello were the other forum participants. My full article, Intentionality and Narrativity in Phenomenological Psychological Research, relies primarily on Husserl’s Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis, and Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative.
  3. 3. Dynamism of consciousness For Husserl consciousness is characterized by a constant ebb and flow of passive and active intentionality They are simultaneous layers of the locus of consciousness that is the human being The locus is multi-layered, and includes what Husserl calls the personal ego, the transcendental ego, and pre-egoic, primordial strata The personal layer is “in time,” the pre- reflective layers are timeless
  4. 4. Phenomenological modes Husserl’s static phenomenology descriptively analyzes the contents of active intentionality His genetic phenomenology interpretively explicates the contents of passive intentionality In Husserl’s work there is not a fixed opposition between describing and interpreting
  5. 5. Husserl’s methods Static phenomenology: a descriptive science that seeks to articulate the intuitive grasping of objects in active intentionality (reflective consciousness) Husserl them began to explore the passive genesis of meaning (pre- reflective, pre-linguistic consciousness), developing a genetic praxis that is descriptive and hermeneutic This was necessary because passive intentionality cannot be accessed through
  6. 6. Genetic inquiry Husserl spoke of investigating “on the basis of concrete experience and description,” which required “Discovering the method of correlation-research, the method for questioning back behind intentional objectivity in a concretely disclosive way. In a manner of speaking, genuine analysis of consciousness is a hermeneutic of conscious life, that latter taken as that which continuously intends entities (identities) and constitutes them within its own self in manifolds of consciousness that pertain to those entities in essential ways.”
  7. 7. “Interpretation” for PsychologyOne meaning of interpretation is a position-taking with respect to the object of consciousness, a perspective (Husserl, Logical Investigations, Ideas I) An alternate meaning of interpretation is a self-consciously theorizing attitude, either on the part of the researcher or the research participant I argue that in our interview data we invariably encounter a variety of intentional relations to the noematic object
  8. 8. “Perceptive interpretation” Husserl names the actively intentional determining of an object as something an interpretive act, Auffassung, which can be understood as a constituting interpretation, or as Husserl puts it in Logical Investigations, a “perceptive interpretation.” (1984, p. 762)
  9. 9. Descriptive research practice “Have you had an experience of X?” For example: “Have you had an experience of feeling deeply cared for by another person? If so, can you describe in detail what that experience was like?” Amedeo Giorgi (2009) The Descriptive Phenomenological Method in Psychology
  10. 10. Descriptive research attitude Aims to elucidate the psychological structure of the phenomenon by gathering descriptions in the natural attitude of everyday life We do not prompt participants to self- consciously interpret or explain However, rich description is required for the data to be psychologically revelatory
  11. 11. What is “rich data”? I propose that rich data stays close to the lived interconnectedness, for the participant, of passive and active intentionality We do not aim to encourage reflective self-interpretation on the part of the participant But can we say that the natural attitude is free of self-interpretation?
  12. 12. Varied modes of interpretationDetermination (Auffassung): the participant’s narrative is a specific position-taking with respect to the experience Emplotment: the participant’s narrative articulation of their experience is a mimetic, linguistic expression, not equivalent to the prelinguistic expression “itself” The narrative is representative of the speaker’s narrative identity as protagonist of their story, which is given in dialogue with a particular Other in a particular social context
  13. 13. Interviews as narrative • Interview narratives are interpretive in that they are the participant’s selective articulation of what she lived, an emplotment that is sense-bestowing through the exclusion of some some details and highlighting of others in line with an emerging plot • Such narratives are mimetic acts in relation to passive lived-experiences understood as a limit rather than as something that can be seized absolutely
  14. 14. The interview is an experience We ought not to neglect that the interview itself is a lived-experience We know as researchers that we are part of the research situation Our data is relational data, unavoidably, it is as story told to an Other and unavoidably in a kind of interchange with the Other
  15. 15. Varieties of intending and speaking Speaking from an experience to the Other Speaking about an experience to the Other Explaining an experience to the Other
  16. 16. Speaking from The participant brings forward a meaning that is immanent for them This means it is already present passively; they are actively grasping it Their attention is first and foremost on the intuitive presence of the phenomenon for them
  17. 17. Speaking about The participant is reflectively aware that he or she is striving to convey the sense of their story to the interviewer Still in contact with the experience as intuitively present, however attention is largely focused on the expressive goal and achieving an adequate objectification of the story for the Other Contact with the passively sedimented meaning of the narrative may even be lost as the expressive goal takes center stage
  18. 18. Explaining to the Other The participant goes beyond trying to convey the sense of her story and seeks to provide an explanatory or causal account of the experience to the Other In a theorizing or quasi-theorizing way Example: “My therapist and I eventually understood that what this experience meant was X,” or “When I read Jung, I understood that I was experiencing the Great Mother archetype…”
  19. 19. Conclusions Data is inescapably relational and arises in a kind of dialogue This does not mean that we need to prompt participants to actively theorize about their experiences The varieties and constant shifting of the colors and modes of intentionality requires great sensitivity and care
  20. 20. References Giorgi, A. (2009). The descriptive phenomenological method in psychology: A modified Husserlian approach. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press Husserl, E. (1982). Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy: First book, General introduction to a pure phenomenology. (F. Kersten, Trans.). Boston: Kluwer. Husserl, E. (1997). Phenomenology and anthropology (T. Sheehan & R. E., Trans.). In T. Sheehan & R. E. Palmer (Eds.), Edmund Husserl: Collected works, vol. 6: Psychological and transcendental phenomenology and the confrontation with Heidegger (1927-1931) (pp. 485-500). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Husserl, E. (2001). Analyses concerning passive and active synthesis: Lectures on transcendental logic. A. J. Steinbock (Trans.). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Husserl, E. (2001b) Logical Investigations Volumes 1-2. J. N. Findlay (Trans.). New York: Routledge. Ihde, D. (1971). Hermeneutic phenomenology: The philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
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