One cognitive style among others. Towards a phenomenology of the lifeworld and of other experiences

In D. Ginev (ed.), The Multidimensionality of Hermeneutic Phenomenology. Springer. pp. 31-48 (2014)
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In his pioneering sociological theory, which makes phenomenological concepts fruitful for the social sciences, Alfred Schütz has laid foundations for a characterization of an manifold of distinct domains of experience. My aim here is to further develop this pluralist theory of experience by buttressing and extending the elements of diversity that it includes, and by eliminating or minimizing lingering imbalances among the domains of experience. After a critical discussion of the criterion-catalogue Schütz develops for the purpose of characterizing different cognitive styles, I move on to examine its application to one special style, the lifeworld. I appeal, on the one hand, to Husserl's characterization of the lifeworld as a world of perception, and on the other hand to the layer-model of the lifeworld developed by Schütz and Thomas Luckmann. A consequence of this approach is that the lifeworld appears as a socially definable context that is detached from other experiences but on an equal footing with them with respect to their claim of validity. The term "lifeworld" does not denote a category that encompasses culture or nature but refers to a delimited action-space. Finally, I draw upon Schütz' s criterion-catalogue to characterize two domains of experience outside of the lifeworld, which play a central role for the process of differentiation of experience in modernity and for the phenomenological analysis of types of experience: experimental science and subjectivity.

Author's Profile

Gregor Schiemann
University of Wuppertal


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