Philosophy of phenomenology: how understanding aids research
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Philosophy of phenomenology: how understanding aids research

Mary Converse Second-year PhD nursing student and sessional instructor, University of Victoria School of Nursing, Victoria, Canada

Aim To assist the researcher in understanding the similarities and differences between the Husserlian and Heideggerian philosophies of phenomenology, and how that philosophy can inform nursing research as a useful methodology.

Background Nurse researchers using phenomenology as a methodology need to understand the philosophy of phenomenology to produce a research design that is philosophically congruent. However, phenomenology has a long and complex history of development, and may be difficult to understand and apply.

Data sources The author draws from Heidegger (1962), Gadamer (2004), and nurse scholars and methodologists.

Discussion To give the reader a sense of the development of the philosophy of phenomenology, the author briefly recounts its historical origins and interpretations, specifically related to Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer. The author outlines the ontological and epistemological assumptions of Husserlian and Heideggerian phenomenology and guidance for methodology inspired by these philosophers. Difficulties with engaging in phenomenological research are addressed, especially the processes of phenomenological reduction and bracketing, and the lack of clarity about the methods of interpretation.

Conclusion Despite its complexity, phenomenology can provide the nurse researcher with indepth insight into nursing practice.

Implications for practice/research An understanding of phenomenology can guide nurse researchers to produce results that have meaning in nursing patient care.

Nurse Researcher. 20, 1, 28-32. doi: 10.7748/nr2012.

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

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