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Vol. 6 No. 2 (2023): Phenomenology and Critique

Mitigating Tensions between Phenomenology and Critique

December 31, 2023


In this paper I argue that, while there are real tensions between phenomenology and critique, it makes a significant difference what we understand phenomenology to be, and that on a good understanding there is room for a project that is genuinely both critical and phenomenological. I will focus on four areas of tension: the eidetic character of phenomenology as opposed to the concrete character of critique; the transcendental orientation of phenomenology as opposed to social and political orientation of critique; the descriptive nature of phenomenology as opposed to the normative nature of critique; and the possibly “naïve” character of phenomenology with respect to the shaping of phenomena by social forces. In each case, I will not try to show that there is no space between phenomenology and critique; rather, I suggest that the tension between the two can be mitigated to allow for a critical phenomenology