What Is Given in Experience: The Phenomenological Account

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Abstract

What is given in observation? A basic tenet of empirical science is that reliable knowledge results from observation, with natural perception and with refined instruments, which is repeatable and verifiable by impartial observers in standard conditions. An observer’s observation, in the first-person singular, is then equivalent and interchangeable with those of others. But what is really observed and given in such observation? There is a task here for phenomenology: to discern just what is given and how. What does a particular scientific discipline determine to count as an observation? In what language is the observation to be recorded? What counts as evidence? What counts as a description or an argument? What theories are implicated in the observational statements? Next, the phenomenologist asks, “What is given in experience? What is the phenomenological account?”

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