oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - 'The individual in the world - the world in the individual' : towards a human science phenomenology that includes the social world
Human science researchers tend to be targeted for critique on the grounds that their approach is too individualistic to take due cognisance of societal and political influences. What is accordingly advocated is that the phenomenological and so-called romantic theories should be abandoned in favour of analytic or continental theories that have as their main focus the system, the group, the society, and the various influences of the social world on the existential reality of the individual. <br>Without trying to invalidate these social science strategies, this paper attempts to show that it is not necessary to surrender phenomenology in order to understand not only the individual, but also the social world in which individuals live. It is argued that the desired goal of a less individualistic human science's theoretical basis can still be founded in phenomenology, in that Merleau-Ponty's philosophy, which has its origin in Husserlian phenomenology, provides us with an adequate ontology for understanding human existence more comprehensively. Merleau-Ponty's ontological philosophy elucidates the in-between world, that structure of existence where the individual cannot be separated from her/his world context. In his exploration of the reversibility of existence, Merleau-Ponty demonstrates that there is no ontological gulf between the individual and the social world. Instead, the world is 'in' the individual as much as the individual is 'in' the world. With this phenomenological epistemology, it is argued, it is possible to generate research that is capable "of more than a frozen existence", as Merleau-Ponty puts it.
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