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Introduction to Phenomenology [Paperback]

Robert Sokolowski
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 21.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 Oct 1999
This book presents the major philosophical doctrines of phenomenology in a clear, lively style with an abundance of examples. The book examines such phenomena as perception, pictures, imagination, memory, language, and reference, and shows how human thinking arises from experience. It also studies personal identity as established through time and discusses the nature of philosophy. In addition to providing a new interpretation of the correspondence theory of truth, the author also explains how phenomenology differs from both modern and postmodern forms of thinking.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (28 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521667925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521667920
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Both in tone and content it is an eminently successful introduction to phenomenology. It offers rich and illuminating insights both for the first-time reader and for the long-term scholar. This is the introduction to phenomenology that many of us have been waiting for.' Richard Cobb-Stevens, Boston College

'Sokolowski takes the reader through all the main concepts of phenomenology such as intentionality, temporality, evidence, intuition, and lifeworld, and touches upon certain important structures that phenomenology discovers. You cannot possibly have a simpler, more straightforward, and yet completely dependable exposition.' J. N. Mohanty, Emory University

Book Description

This book presents the major philosophical doctrines of phenomenology, such as perception, pictures, imagination, memory, language, and reference, personal identity, and shows how human thinking arises from experience. Provides a new interpretation of the correspondence theory of truth, and explains how phenomenology differs from modern and postmodern forms of thinking.

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The term most closely associated with phenomenology is "intentionality." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Introduction 9 May 2003
By A Customer
For all those starting to look at phenomenology, this is a fantastic book. I was studying Husserl for my course and as I come from an analytic background, I found a lot od the ideas hard to grasp. This book has helped many in my course and I would recommend it to any with an interest in the descriptive nature of philosophy
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An excellent introduction to the study of Phenomenology that is both clear and straightforward. A definite starter for the undergradate or interested reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 20 May 2012
By Lector
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this quite excellent. Unlike many 'introductions' to phenomenology which are written in impenetrable jargon, this book takes you step by step through a number of fundamental ideas in the phenomenological tradition. The language is straightforward and the examples illuminating. What the book does not do is to tell you who thought what, but in my view this isn't really what you want to know. Phenomenology, like philosophy in general, isn't fundamentally something you know about, it's something you do; and if you want to be able to 'do' phenomenology it's hard to think of a better book to get you going.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meat-n-Potatoes of Phenomenology 2 Feb 2004
By Charles Comer - Published on
Perhaps the most important philosophical movement in the 20th century, phenomenology is also one of the more abstruse and varied disciplines in philosophy. Indeed, it would be quite difficult to give a definitive description of what phenomenology is, as defined by the multifarious practitioners, and an onerous task of sifting through the thousands of pages of primary texts. Moreoever, as I can attest, encountering a phenomenological text for the first time is a daunting experience, like trying to navigate through a large city without a map or guide. While there are several good introductory texts on phenomenology in general (Moran's for example), and many texts discussing the many phenomenologists, Sokolowski has graciously and generously given us a very general and useful introduction to the basic structures of phenomenology as a method. To this extent, Sokolowski's book is strongly Husserlian and, in some aspects, echoes in simplistic terms his very good 1974 book, Husserlian Meditations. This, however, is not to be taken as a deficit. To the contrary, Husserl is the recognized father of phenomenology, and also a writer of terse and often impenetrable verse. Thus, it behooves anyone wishing to begin to study phenomenology to get the gist first before delving into the more difficult texts.
What Sokolowski has done for us is to simply explain phenomenology in much the same way one would explain their hobby or a good book they have read. That is to say that it is casual and clear, and very helpful and informative, without an excess of jargon or unnecessary info. However, Sokolowski does go through pains to clarify and define the terminology implcit in phenomenology, e.g., terms such as noetic, noema, parts, wholes, eidetic intuition, etc.
I cannot agree with one of the reviewers below, who claims that an introduction to phenomenology ought to be historical. For as much as phenomenology evolved since Husserl, it is indeed important to see it in such an historical context, however, when considering phenomenology simply as a method one does not need to know how it was transformed by Heidegger or Sartre. Further, I cannot help but feel comparison to Dermot Moran's sweeping and powerful Introduction to Phenomenology to be misguided; in either case the intentions are different. Besides, Sokolowski does mention the variations of phenomenology over the past century. All the same, the province of Sokolowski's book is an attempt to help us understand HOW TO DO PHENOMENOLOGY, as opposed to other aspects of phenomenolgy such as its history and context.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars experience phenomenology directly without technical jargon 2 April 2000
By CLARA SHAJRAWI - Published on
This book describes the human experience of phenomenology in a natural language without assuming a previous knowledge of the relevant philosophers or concepts. It easily guides the reader into the subject and invites her/him to participate in this human experience by exposing it as relevant to the natural daily life. By this participation some important concepts are developed and made clear much more than may be attained by rote memorizing without a suitable context. However, the historical development of the phenomenological movement and its main figures are only mentionted in a brief sketchy way at the end of the book. Therefore this book is more like a good "appetizer" to studying the subject rather than standing, by itself, as a main "meal".
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thorough and readable 1 Jun 2001
By K. M. - Published on
Introduction to Phenomenology does a fine job of getting you started in phenomenology. It meticulously specifies the key themes (parts and wholes, identity in manifolds, absence and presence) and then carefully leads you through them. The fundamental, difficult-to-grasp ideas of intentionality, epoche and time consciousness are treated thoroughly and at an introductory level. The book follows a practice common in good math texts of returning again and again to the main themes, each time armed with more powerful tools.
As a rule, I never read just one introduction to any topic. No matter how good your first choice is, you need a separate perspective. In this case I recommend Natanson's Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks. The two books are complementary. Natanson's book is rich and inspirational, but Sokolowski's book is a better introduction. Introduction to Phenomenology is also motivational; it extols the benefits of phenomenology while noting it does not conflict with the objective body of science.
I keep rereading Introduction to Phenomenology and finding fresh insights. But the goal for me was to move on and read Husserl, in the excellent translations found, for example, in Donn Welton's The Essential Husserl. It is in Husserl's work that you find the mother lode of phenomenology. After mastering his vocabulary (via Sokolowski), you discover that Husserl writes carefully, methodically and clearly. At some point, you will even find Husserl easier to follow than most interpretive texts. So read Introduction to Phenomenology as the best first step in understanding phenomenology.
Side note: I personally `discovered' phenomenology in Gian-Carlo Rota's Indiscrete Thoughts and in Sokolowski's Foreword to that book. Thank you for that, Professor Sokolowski.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is phenomenology? 16 Sep 2005
By A. Fehir - Published on
As Cal Schrag notes in a fantastic litte essay called "The Recovery of the Phenomenological Subject": "In 1945 Maurice Merleau-Ponty began the preface to his classic work Phenomenologie de la perception, with the observation that the reader might find it odd that the question What is phenomenology? still needs to be answered one-half a century after the first writings of Edmund Husserl. The fact however remains, wrote Mereleau-Ponty, that this question still awaits an answer. Some fifty years after the publication of Merleau-Ponty's seminal work on perception we are still asking the question What is phenomenology?"

I do not hesitate (well, maybe a little) to reply that reading this excellent book by Sokolowski will certainly put the beginner on the path to answering this difficult question. Perhaps it answers best What is Husserlian phenomenology? but what better place to begin the journey than at the beginning. This is certainly not a scholarly text. You will not find footnotes at the bottom of every page. You won't even get citations to Husserl's texts. And you certainly won't find anything like a ten-page analysis of the words "phenomenon" and "logos" as encountered at the outset of Heidegger's Being and Time. But it's not supposed to be a critical scholarly text, it is just what it says: an introduction to phenomenology.

I think this text will be especially beneficial to readers who are familiar with philosophy but who stand outside the continental tradition - e.g. analytic philosophers. Also, those who already understand Husserl (or think they do) will find this book a fantastic read as well. Don't think that just because it is an introduction that it is beneath you. I think you will be suprised (and perhaps encouraged) by the ability of Sokolowski to state so clearly an answer to the question What is phenomenology?
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a clear presentation of the basics 19 Dec 2005
By David M. Przekupowski - Published on
This is an excellent introduction to phenomenology. While the history of phenomenology is fascinating and rewards serious study, this book, unlike others, cuts through the differences between phenomenological thinkers to the 'meat and bones' of the approach and presents the basic methods of phenomenological analysis in a clear and penetrating fashion. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Anyone interested in philosophy would do well to sit down with this book for a few hours. It could very well change the way you look at the world and the way you approach philosophical problems (for the better!). Highly recommended.
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