Phenomenology as rhetoric

Nursing Inquiry 12 (2):106-116 (2005)
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Abstract

Phenomenology as rhetoric The literature on ‘nursing phenomenology’ is driven by a range of ontological and epistemological considerations, intended to distance it from conventionally scientific approaches. However, this paper examines a series of discrepancies between phenomenological rhetoric and phenomenological practice. The rhetoric celebrates perceptions and experience; but the concluding moment of a research report almost always makes implicit claims about reality. The rhetoric insists on uniquely personal meanings; but the practice offers blank, anonymous abstractions. The rhetoric invites us to believe that knowing is subjective and involved, but at the same time it recommends a technique (bracketing) which can only represent a crude, and entirely misconceived, gesture towards objectivity. Finally, the rhetoric claims that generalisation is beside the point; but the majority of researchers generalise anyway. In quietly ignoring their own rhetoric, ‘phenomenologists’ appropriate scientific prerogatives illegitimately. For their methods do not entitle them to lay claim to anything resembling ‘objectivity’, or generalisability, or ‘reality’, or theoretical abstraction. Like other researchers, they want to talk in generalisable terms about reality; they want to be objective, they want to do theory. But they are saddled with a philosophy that is disabling, because it says they can only talk about perceptions, and meanings, and uniqueness.

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References found in this work

The Illusion of Conscious Will.Daniel M. Wegner - 2002 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Truth and method.Hans-Georg Gadamer - 1975 - New York: Continuum. Edited by Joel Weinsheimer & Donald G. Marshall.
Truth and Method.H. G. Gadamer - 1975 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (4):487-490.

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