Everywhere and nowhere: Reflections on phenomenology as impossible and indispensable (in psychology and psychiatry)

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Abstract

This essay argues for the necessity of a phenomenological perspective on mind and mental disorder while also emphasizing the inherent difficulty of adopting such an orientation. Here I adopt a via negativa approach-by considering three forms of error that the phenomenologists Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty recognize as needing to be guarded against, lest they subvert the project of attaining an adequate understanding of consciousness or subjectivity: Namely (1) prejudices deriving from theory and common sense, (2) distorting effects of reflection, and (3) what Heidegger termed the forgetting of the ontological difference. Phenomenology insists on the importance of studying subjective life while also acknowledging the epistemological paradoxes inherent to this domain—a domain whose very self-evidence is inseparable from mystery, whose visibility conceals a deeper invisibility. I consider these issues in light of phenomenology’s relevance for certain issues in psychopathology and literary representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-564
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Inquiry
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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