Psychological Science 2017, 40(6) 1524-1530 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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Key words: Empirical phenomenological psychology
Husserlian phenomenology
FU Xiao-Hong
YU Li-Jun
Article by Fu,X.H
Article by Yu,L.J

Empirical Phenomenological Psychology: Inheritance and Development of Giorgi to Husserlian Phenomenology

1,WANG Lijun2


Abstract Amedeo Giorgi,an American phenomenological psychologist,inherited and modified Husserlian Phenomenology from scientific and psychological perspective, which is mainly shown in the following three aspects: First, on the subject of criticism, Giorgi takes in Husserlian phenomenology in terms of naturalism and spiritualism, which holds that they can’t bring people any truth owing to their own shortcomings, and they even prevent people from accessing to the truth. Basing on this, Giorgi further points out that natural science psychology has a long history and has been dominating this field for over one hundred years,but it is obvious that natural science orientation is unsuited to psychology due to the totally different nature between object and human. In addition, he urges that phenomenological principles are valued and considered as an important approach in psychology to investigating the full range of behavior and experience of human as a person, which is also scientific. Second, on the starting point and basic principles, Giorgi takes it seriously the concepts of Husserlian phenomenology such as the lifeworld, intentionality, reduction and important others, and he accepts that consciousness was intentional, which means that an act of consciousness always directs towards an object. In this way, researchers can get essence of experience rooted in lifeworld by reduction and description. For psychological and scientific purposes, Giorgi transformed them from transcendent level to experience level. For example, he adopted concepts of usual lifeworld, bracketing and eidetic reduction rather than transcendental lifeworld and reduction. Third, on the research methods, Giorgi partially agrees with Husserl’s theory that researchers can get the essence by methods of reduction and description. Nevertheless, considering that psychology is different from philosophy, basing on former studies, Giorgi built up a specific and operational descriptive phenomenological psychology method, which contains four stages: reading for overall meaning, identifying meaning-units, assessing the psychological significance of meaning-units, and getting the general structure of the experience. As a result, a large number of specific studies are born to follow him. Empirical phenomenological psychology can be traced to Husserlian Phenomenology in essence, and considered as the most perfect exhibition of the theory. What’s more, it enriches and goes beyond the latter in specific concepts and applications. Besides, it develops a rigorous and scientific phenomenological psychology approach. The emergence of empirical phenomenological psychology means that American phenomenological psychology has already completed its propaedeutic phase and turned into the phases of concrete action. It is the first phenomenological psychology method in American and the most mature method of phenomenological psychology nowadays. We should fully recognize empirical phenomenological psychology. On the one hand, it possesses many advantages: It adds a completely new method to psychology and achieves a thorough breakthrough in methodology, and raises a series of thinking on the basic theory of psychology, as well as realizes the combination and mutual promotion of psychology and philosophy; on the other hand, difficulties also exist. For example, the research depends too much on the researcher’s individual ability, findings are not always adopted properly in practice, researchers can’t use it correctly due to the lack of phenomenological knowledge, internal views vary and mainstream psychology brings much stress to it. In a word, the development of empirical phenomenological psychology is fraught with difficulties, but we should still believe that it and psychology of the humanities will continue to advance in future.

Keywords Key words: Empirical phenomenological psychology   Husserlian phenomenology   Lifeworld   Intentionality  
Received 2017-05-18 Revised 2017-09-05 Online: 2017-11-20 
Corresponding Authors: WANG Lijun
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