- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 28, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521667925
- ISBN-13: 978-0521667920
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Introduction to Phenomenology
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"This thoughtful and beautifully crafted book introduces the reader to the fundamental themes of phenomenology...This is the introduction to phenomenology that many of us have been waiting for. It offers rich and illuminating insights both for the first-time reader and for the long-term scholar. It also offers many original and evocative reflections on the nature and role of philosophy in our time." Richard Cobb-Stevens, Boston College, The Thomist
"Both in tone and content it is an eminently successful introduction to phenomenology. It offers rich and illuminating insights both for the first-time reader and for the long-term scholar. This is the introduction to phenomenology that many of us have been waiting for." Richard Cobb-Stevens, Boston College
"...this is an excellent introduction." Choice
"...the book would make an excellent text for an undergraduate course. Yet because it also offers a fresh and stimulating interpretation of phenomenology and an intriguing view of its importance for contemporary intellectual life it should be of much broader interest as well." Review of Metaphysics
"...a straightforward introductory presentation of philosophical phenomenology from a basically Husserlian perspective with a minimum of jargon and written in an American idiom." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology
"Sokolowshi's introduction is excellent in many ways. He writes with admirable lucidity about complex and subtle issues, including even such braintwisters as the temporality of consciousness, the phenomenology of the self, and noetic-noematic correlations...His treatment of phenomenology is quite comprehensive...appears to be a very valuable pedagogical resource, at least for those who agree with its basic view of phenomenology." Husserl Studies 2002
"Robert Sokolowski has established himself as one of our leading contemporary philosophers...In this book, Sokolowski has given us a concise, lucid, and cogently argued introduction to phenomenology, which displays many of its contributions to our understanding of human thought, action, and speech, and which leaves little doubt about the integrity and efficacy of the philosophical enterprise...Sokolowski's introduction to phenomenology is now indespensable, and it is a safe prediction that it will be the standard text on this subject for many years." Teaching Philosophy
This book presents the major philosophical doctrines of phenomenology in a clear, lively style with an abundance of examples. The book examines such phenomena as perception, pictures, imagination, memory, language, and reference, and shows how human thinking arises from experience. It also studies personal identity as established through time and discusses the nature of philosophy. In addition to providing a new interpretation of the correspondence theory of truth, the author also explains how phenomenology differs from both modern and postmodern forms of thinking.
Top customer reviews
Human experience provides the basis for phenomenology. No matter how "elevated" the cognition, in phenomenology our shared human faculties provide the foundation. In stark contrast to Cartesian, Humean, and Hobbesian conceptions, phenomenology puts full trust in our sensory experiences. This idea gets emphasized and reemphasized throughout the book. Not only that, most concepts receive illumination through repetition and other literary devices. This elucidates the subject matter to an exponential degree as well as moistening up what could have been a very dry read. It proves that the experience of reading about experience can entertain.
Intentionality, the first chapter's subject, provides a good starting block for phenomenology. This concept connects our consciousness to the world. It essentially means that consciousness is consciousness "of" something. We're connected to the thing experienced, and our experiences make up a part of that thing's being. Our beings criss-cross and validate each other. The implications of this get discussed in great detail. Following this, the discussion explodes into phenomenology's three crucial structures: Parts and Wholes, Identity in Manifolds, and Presence in Absence. These three found the remaining discussions, from the Natural versus the Phenomenological Attitude, Categorial Intentionality, ego consciousness, and temporality, to the lifeworld, evidence, Eidetic Intuition, and intersubjectivity. Later chapters build on early ones. The whole edifice comes together in the final chapters. In true fashion, the parts found and construct the whole. Though not everything attains lucidity. The almost mystical notion of "Internal Time Consciousness" apparently requires more discussion than this book allows. Regardless, everything comes back to intentionality and the three basic structures.
Although the discussion evades proper names for the most part, an appendix provides a short history of the field from Husserl to the present. The book in general follows Husserlian terminology. Overall, the unorthodox approach taken here fits well with the subject matter. Phenomenology is something that people can actually perform. Some consider it a science. In places, the discussion even attempts to expand natural sciences to a new level based on human experience. It even suggests in one place that modern indeterminancy in science originates from science's disinterest in the variation of human experience. Obviously not everyone will find the arguments, or even phenomenology itself, convincing. But as a reaction to "mind in a box" epistemology it at least provides a refreshing new perspective. It also puts the human being in the world fully connected. We are reality, reality is us. Anyone who wants insight into one of Continental philosophy's most influential movements should read this book cover to cover and repeat.
Unlike some introductory texts which focus on introducing the field's major thinkers and their work, Sokolowski's approach is thematic looking at phenomenology's questions and terminology rather than its historic personages. Readers interested in a more detailed and historically focused introduction to phenomenology may enjoy a series of MP3 audio lectures by John Drabinski's "Between Husserl and Heidegger' (available on-line).
Overall, this is an outstanding introduction to phenomenology; it is clear, concise and helpful. I highly recommend it for all readers new to this subject as well as those that have questions in this area.
Mr. Sokolowski provides insights into this unique school of thought in a guide written specifically for the lay reader. He begins his account with an initial working definition of phenomenology and how the school arose, stating that 'phenomenology is the study of human experience and of the ways that things present themselves to us in and through experience' (Sokolowski). It arose as a contrast to the Cartesian school which has dominated western thought since Descartes. In the Cartesian school 'we are told that when we are conscious, we are primarily aware of ourselves or our own ideas.... Our consciousness, first and foremost, is not of anything at all. Rather, we are caught in what has been called an egocentric predicament, all we can really be sure of at the start is our own conscious existence and the states of consciousness.' (Sokolowski). As Emerson wrote in his essay, 'Experience,' 'we have learned that we do not see directly, but mediately, and that we have no means of correcting these colored and distorting lenses which we are...' In other words, in the cartesian view experience of the outer world is negated. To all intents and purposes the world could merely be an illusion to the cartesian self.
In contrast, phenomenology seeks to restore the validity and reliability of self as an experiencing subject, in which the world appears as it is. First it establishes that consciousness is 'consciousness of objects.' 'Things do appear to us, things are truly disclosed, and we, on our part, do display, both to ourselves and to others, the way things are.'.... It recognizes the reality and truth of phenomena, the things that appear.' (Sokolowski)
Mr. Sokolowski continues to share his insights on phenomenology by discussing how things appear to the self. He also defines terms that are important to understanding of this school of thought. These terms include intentionality, absence and presence. He then provides a phenomenological perspective on perception, language, memory, identity, and time, which includes both temporal time and time consciousness.
I found the chapter on time particularly intriguing. In phenomenology there are three levels of time. The first level is world time, which is the time of clocks and calendars. The second is internal time or subjective time. The third level is called the consciousness of internal time. Interestingly enough world time is dependent on subjective time as the subjective experience of it is given metaphysical priority. It connects our experiences giving us the feeling of 'a flowing nature of time, leading ultimately to a consciousness of self experiencing the world. According to phenomenology if we did not have this subjective experience of time then we would not get a sense of duration, or a continual time process. (Everything around us would instead).... 'be nothing but momentary flashes.' (Sokolowski) Time is given priority by phenomenology because it serves as a compass which we use to navigate our experience of the world with.
In his final chapters Mr. Sokolowski discusses the phenomenology of reason, as well as illustrating the importance of the phenomenological perspective to philosophy. He also illustrates how phenomenology influenced thinkers such as Sartre, Derrida, as well as hermeneutics.
There were times when the reading became tedious, and sometimes it was difficult to keep certain terms straight. For instance, phenomenology's definition of intention is not the same as the 'natural' definition. In phenomenology intentionality means consciousness of something. Sometimes it was difficult to remember this definition and other terms as I continued to read. A glossary of important terms would have assisted a lay reader in remembering these definitions. However, I liked the examples that Mr. Sokolowski used in his attempt to illustrate the phenomenological perspective in action. I also liked the conversational style of writing he utilized. The reader doesn't feel like he is being talked down to.
Phenomenology may or may not be the final say on reality... but it is worth contemplating.. and in this thought provoking guide Mr. Sokolowski has provided the reader with the tools this perspective uses for reflection.
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It has exceeded my best expectatives. It has already become a classic book in this matter.