Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Phenomenology has a rich and complex background and it continues to evolve along lines that find their origins in earlier periods and movements.


From a philosophical point of view there exist many continuities and discontinuities among the various phenomenological orientations or movements. Often phenomenological schools or movements are identified with the thinking of outstanding scholars. And some academics make it their life project to study the works of great minds such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Blanchot, Heidegger, or Ricoeur.


For human science scholars, who are primarily interested in applying phenomenological method to their professional practice or to aspects of their lifeworld, it is quite appropriate to take an eclectic approach to the tradition of phenomenology.


We may distinguish several phenomenological movements and traditions such as transcendental, existential, hermeneutical, linguistical, ethical, and experiential or practice phenomenology. This list of orientations is not necessarily complete. But these are designations that seem to recur throughout the philosophical and phenomenological literature.


Further, it is not easy to place these movements in precise philosophical or historical frameworks. However, this section attempts to do this using the following designations or orientations:


  1. Transcendental phenomenology is most clearly identified with the pathbreaking work of Husserl and his collaborators and interpreters such as Eugen Fink, Tymieniecka, and Van Breda.
  2. Existential phenomenology is associated with Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Marcel, and others.
  3. Hermeneutical phenomenology is linked especially with Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur.
  4. Linguistical phenomenology includes the French language oriented work of Blanchot, Derrida and Foucault, even though the latter denied that he was a phenomenologist.
  5. Ethical phenomenology is exemplified in the work of Scheler, but later especially with the thinking of Levinas –under whom Derrida studied the works of Husserl and Heidegger.
  6. Phenomenology of practice is used here to designate the employment of phenomenological method in applied or professional contexts such as clinical psychology, medicine, education or pedagogy, nursing, counselling, and also to the use of phenomenological method in contexts of practical concerns of everyday living. Early protagonists of phenomenology of practice are medical practitioners such as the psychiatrists Binswanger and Van den Berg, clinical psychologists such Buytendijk and Linschoten, and educators or pedagogues such as Langeveld and Bollnow. Examples of contemporary scholars who work within contexts of phenomenology of practice are Amadeo Giorgi (psychology), Patricia Benner (nursing), and Max van Manen (education and pedagogy).