Some Thoughts Pertaining To Existential and Phenomenological Research

As mentioned in previous blog posts, a theory is parsimonious, in the sense that a theory is supposed to explain everything from a scientific standpoint. I mentioned the “Theory of Synchronicity” in the last blog post, and the primary assumption behind this theory is that there is an underlying cause or explanation which provides interrelatedness and meaning for what are seemingly disparate and trivial actions and events. Thus, if there is anything that comes close to a “Theory of Everything” in the social sciences, it is perhaps the “Theory of Synchronicity.”

            Of all the different research methods in the Western sciences, the two which emerge as the frontrunners are the empirical or positive method on one hand, and the existential or phenomenological method on the other hand. For the most part, I have employed the latter method through the course of my book writing and blogging over the course of more than eight years since getting a Master’s degree in August of 2013. What is perhaps the fundamental difference between these two methods is that empiricism and positivism entail a level of complacency and rigidity that is bypassed by an existential and phenomenological method. Although both methods are similar in the sense that both methods result in confident assessments rather than concrete conclusions, the two methods diverge in terms of the “lived experience” which is brought into the existential and phenomenological method and is lacking in the empirical and positive method.

            The results of the existential and phenomenological method may actually upset certain organizations and individuals who are long accustomed to the empirical and positive method. The protocols of an empirical and positive method, such as hypotheses which have to be tested or experiments which follow certain procedures, are much more fluid in an existential and phenomenological method. In turn, the fluidity of the existential and phenomenological method provides a “richness of data” that is not found in the empirical or positive method. There are perhaps more biases associated with an empirical and positive method than an existential or phenomenological method, given that there are limits to what can be considered legitimate data, information, or knowledge in the empirical and positive method. Perhaps the whole point of existential and phenomenological research is to challenge the conventional thinking and wisdom that is reinforced by the empirical and positive method.

Moreover, there is a lot more data, information, and knowledge to be analyzed in an existential and phenomenological method than an empirical and positive method, given the limits to what can be analyzed in the empirical and positive method. In sum, the existential and phenomenological method cuts through rigid assumptions and brings “deep issues” to the surface. Subjectivity can be associated with any of the two major methods, but with the existential and phenomenological method, subjectivity is overcome through the deconstruction of long-held assumptions and the deepness of the analysis and data that is brought to the fore. Given all of these aforementioned points, I have largely employed the existential and phenomenological method for both my book writing and blogging rather than the empirical and positive method.

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