Phenomenology and mainstream Western philosophies
It is very interesting to understand Phenomenology in order to realize the limitations of the mainstream philosophies that shaped current Western cultures: British Empiricism and Continental Europe Idealism.
Phenomenology explains the ways how the individual interacts with the external environment: external subjects and objects. Such interaction lead individuals to become aware of their own intentions and motivations, as well as those of others.
This leads to the discovery of the values that each individual has, which drives everyone’s behaviors.
This is the foundation of a community, where the individuals enrich each other based on their values.
Phenomenology studies the interaction between the individuals and the community based on such values, how this creates a reciprocal dependence on different levels: sensory, material (economic), mental (emotional, psychological), aesthetic, moral, religious, etc.
This contrasts with mainstream individualistic philosophies, and shows their limitations: it is good to consider the power and values of the individuals, but it is limited to downplay the benefits of the interaction with the community both for the individual and the community.
It also shows the limitations of the collectivist views of the ethics of Rights, Justice and Marxism, showing the massification, depersonalization, and multiple confrontation and conflicts that they generate.
Phenomenology and other disciplines
Phenomenology has a very powerful connection with other disciplines. You can read this in more detail in other parts of this website.
In psychology, Bowen Family System theory, today a very popular therapy, considers that psychological health is the result of a system, integrated by the individual and the community. The ability of the individual to realize its personal value as well as the values of others, is the backbone of his or her personal emotional health.
In business management, specifically Organizational Behavior (OB) is structured in identical ways; the main subjects addressed by Phenomenology are addressed by OB:
- the individual: self knowledge, self esteem, personality, emotions, values, attitudes, perceptions, motivation, behavior
- community: interactions individual-group, groups (associations) versus teams (communities)
- processes: communication, influence, power, leadership, change
Phenomenology helps to understand current changes in political economy’s main currents:
- Realism (Machiavelli, Hobbes). States must maximize power, struggle with others to defend their interest. Ethics, rights, institutions are irrelevant. Realism showed its dark side during the two World Wars, and the Great Depression. Realism leads to a win-lose situation and continuous conflict which is not sustainable in an integrated world.
- Liberalism (Locke, Kant). Citizens have universal human rights and liberal values (individualism, tolerance, freedom, constitutionalism) that require institutions to protect them (NATO, UN, IMF, WB, WTO). Economic integration, transnationals and INGO reinforce peace and stability. However Liberalism seems unable to generate economic stability.
- Social Constructivism. It is still a young doctrine. It is based on the same pillars as
Phenomenology and organizational theory and behavior: community, cooperation, common goals, norms, structures, cultures, game theory and rational choice.
Phenomenology has an excellent dialogue with World Religions.
- Christianity. Phenomenology helps to understand the Trinity, three individuals living in community.
- Eastern Religions. Phenomenology provides a philosophical understanding of the intuitions proposed by Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism: how meditation and contemplation help to discover and values the individual self, and the self of the others and the external nature, and to develop values, relationships and ethics.