We tend to judge the quality of our lives from the experiences we have in it. From listening to music to laying on a beach soaking up the sun, we all are composites of our own unique sets of experiences. Although no-one could discount the importance of having quality experiences, one cannot help but ask if they have implications for the world around us.
The Philosophical study analyzing our experiences and linking them to our understanding of the world is known as Phenomenology.
"Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
The term intentionality plays a key role in most phenomenological discussions and it appears prohibitively technical. However, one may appreciate its relevance to our daily lives by noticing how frequently it applies to even the most mundane of our activities. For example, an "appropriate enabling" condition emerges when we as a society apply intentionality to institutions such as the government, tax codes and marriage. Indeed, none of these things would exist if we did not have a consensus that the government has the authority to enact laws, that taxes can serve the public good ( at least in principle they should) and that marriage imposes moral obligations upon people.
To borrow John Searle's terminology, one may refer to the acts by which institutions are created as "collective intentionality". That is, we as a society ascribe meaning to our experiences that endows them with "appropriate enabling conditions". Thus, far from being subjective and arbitrary; our personal experiences play a pivotal role in shaping the world around us.
As important as intentionality is for our understanding of the philosophical implications of our personal experiences, it is only one example why the study of phenomenology is interesting and important.
First and foremost, phenomenology can be defined as an analysis of our experiences and that takes place from a first -person perspective. Thus, we will focus on the first-person perspective in this meetup and examine how that impacts our worldview or changes the world around us.
To gain a deeper background understanding of our upcoming topic, we invite you to review the following links and any other comparably reputable resources you may find on your own.
Although these citations can serve as our guidelines, our scope is not by any means limited to them. Above all, we'll convene to discuss our experiences and how they enhance one's understanding of the world.
We look forward to hearing your creative contributions to our discussion.