Philosophy as the study of ultimate principles of knowledge, has been challenged recently in history by some of the intellectual forces in modernism and post-modernism. In response to this, the movement known as phenomenology has arisen to answer the objections posed by these two intellectual movements. As a movement, phenomenology was developed in the late nineteenth-century under the German mathematicianphilosopher Edmund Husserl as a response to the logical questions involved with some of the psychologistic systems of thought of the period that sought to reduce the rules and workings of logic to psychological processes of the human mind. However, because of the connections between logic, metaphysics, and epistemology, the inquiry led Husserl and his followers to a more expansive project that amounted to a new method of philosophical inquiry.
It will be shown in this paper that while the methods of phenomenology are relatively new in the history of philosophical thought, they could be viewed more as a continuation and development of the view of philosophy as first expounded by the ancient Greeks that continued through the medieval period. In addition, it will be shown how phenomenological inquiry has added valuable and novel insights of its own to philosophical thought.
Greek views concerning the nature of philosophy will be examined as well as a brief overview presented of the development of the field through the early modern period in regards to the problems that the methods of phenomenology answers. In particular,the role of phenomenology in response to the “critical problem” of the relation of mind to world as posed by Immanuel Kant will be examined. The phenomenological method in its various aspects will be examined as well as its significance for the process of inquiry as a whole. The meaningful consequences and implications of the concept of “intentionality” will also be covered in addition to other findings such as “noesis” and “noema.”
The phenomenological concern regarding the restriction of the domain of evidence will be discussed in detail because of its relevance to the restrictions that logical positivism and other types of “scientism” have attempted to place on the scope of philosophical inquiry. In this respect, some of the logical concerns in phenomenology will also be discussed as well as the nature of the justification for ultimate principles. It will be shown that many of the findings of phenomenology and philosophy can only be pointed to and contemplated by virtue of their very nature as ultimate principles that transcend any one particular “science.” Because of this, these principles cannot logically be reduced from the start of the investigation to any sort of physical, biological, semiological, or psychological theory.