What ist New Phenomenology?

Phenomenology – this word characterises an area of philosophy from which ideas emanate into numerous other sciences, ranging from medicine to physics, from the social sciences to psychology.

"Zu den Sachen selbst!" ("to the things themselves"). With this simple phrase, Edmund Husserl added impetus to what had become an inert research tradition, and attracted young academic talent in the process. Phenomenology arose as opposition against academic philosophy, which provided mere reprints of classical conceptions (when it was not merely indulging itself in thought management). It is, in fact, one of history’s ironies that in the second half of the twentieth century Husserl himself would become the subject matter of academic scholasticism, considering that he had objected to its sterility and that this sterility had taken on even  more bizarre forms.

The society for new phenomenology believes that it is time to invigorate the original phenomenology, to anew the principle “to the things themselves” and to expand the phenomenon. Our imagination, as conditioned by the theories and constructions of the natural sciences that have widely become accepted as common knowledge, obstructs the view of the facts of how we experience life. However, it was these facts that moved philosophical reflection onwards from the very beginning. The new phenomenology, therefore, seeks to investigate imagination without the constraints of the natural sciences.  Phenomenology can identify and break down the concepts and constructions that guide and restrict our daily perceptions by means of consistent philosophical assessments. This notion may inadequately sound like a somewhat negative process, but it is far more than that because it opens up new possibilities to gain experiences, adopt a more open attitude towards reality and, at the same time, build up solid scepticism towards hasty or sweeping generalisations.

The New Phenomenology owes its conceptual and thematic foundation to the philosophical efforts of Hermann Schmitz. He, with consistent accuracy, enabled people to accountably speak about the impartial experience of life, and with that, stemming from what we can sense with our own felt-bodies ("Leib"), opened up new and large fields of reality: felt-body, feelings, atmospheres, and situations.

Although the felt-body is a significant topic within traditional phenomenology (that which is, so to say, closest to us and most preoccupies us), the Schmitzsche analysis of physical condition puts the development of this topic on a new level. This analysis provides the conception for numerous ‘body-centred’ methods, and it is by no means chance that doctors and therapists recite and discuss it. For years, the GNP – perhaps as the only philosophical society – has cultivated relationships with doctors and psychologists.

However, new phenomenology does not only deal with the topic of "corporality" ("Leiblichkeit"). The GNP believes that all topics of philosophy (as wide-ranging as epistemology, the philosophy of law, and aesthetics) should both require and be accessible for a revised phenomenological analysis. New phenomenology differs from other philosophical approaches in that it is orientated around experience and applicability.

Whoever is interested in the concerns of an intercultural and interdisciplinary orientated new phenomenology can gain more information about the goals of the society, the annual symposiums, and the scientific book series on the GNP website.

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