Phenomenology calls for a return to the phenomena — the ‘things themselves’ as they show up for us in experience. Our aim in this course will be to develop an understanding of the central motivations, concepts, and controversies of phenomenology by reading texts by Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Beauvoir. We will begin by examining Husserl’s attempt to explain the objectivity of logic, mathematics, and the sciences. His strategy is to transform intentionality from a psychological notion, describing the way our mental states are directed towards various features of the world, into an account of the structure of meaning in experience. This meaning-structure makes it possible for things to be experienced and understood by us as the kinds of things they are. Husserl argues that these encounters with things take shape in a cultural, historical, and bodily context which is essentially lived, and explanatorily prior to all objective knowledge. Husserl’s ideas about the origins of meaning are crucial for existentialism, and we will trace their appropriation and critical reception in works by Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Beauvoir.