Phenomenology was – besides analytic philosophy – one of the two great philosophical movements of the 20th century. It has been praised for addressing topics more relevant to real people’s life, but blamed for relatively lower standards of clarity and for non-delivering its over-ambitious goals. It has been more influential than analytic philosophy outside of academic philosophy (and is thus important in many areas of humanities and cultural studies). Within philosophy, there have been repeated attempts to merge life-relevance of phenomenology with clarity and modesty of analysis.
In this course, we shall focus on close reading and critical explanation of selections from three classical books of the movement, Edmund Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations (1929) and Crisis of European Sciences (1936) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (1945). The Cartesian Meditations are the best introduction to Husserl’s phenomenology, in the Crisis he adds influential material about the life-world, about science, and about history. In the Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty merges motives from Husserl and Heidegger with stuff from psychology and psychopathology and sketches his own conception of philosophy.