Detail from Still Life with Apples, Paul Cezanne.

Back to the Things Themselves

Organiser: Keith Allen, Philosophy

‘Back to the things themselves’ is a rally cry of the phenomenological movement. Phenomenology, broadly speaking, is the study of ‘lived experience’, or how things appear to us as human subjects. Phenomenological investigation involves setting aside assumptions and prejudices from common sense and science in order to describe and explain our experience of ourselves, others, and the world.

As a philosophical movement, phenomenology is associated with some of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, including Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. There are historical precedents in the philosophical work of Goethe, Hegel, and Kierkegaard; there are affinities to movements in 'Anglophone' philosophy, such as the ‘ordinary language philosophy’ of Ryle, Austin, and Wittgenstein; and there are echoes and developments in post-modernism and contemporary embodied theories of consciousness. However, all of the arts and humanities can claim an interest in ‘lived experience’.

Phenomenological themes and techniques can be identified in Modernist writers and artists, such as Proust, Valéry, Joyce, and Cézanne, and phenomenological theorising has had an important impact on disciplines such as film criticism and architecture.

The aim of the proposed research strand is to contextualise and situate phenomenological inquiry into lived experience in its wider intellectual landscape.
For further information, email Keith Allen: keith.allen@york.ac.uk.

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