Phenomenology indicates a way to research where we can be open to the phenomenon and to allow it to show itself in its fullness and complexity through our own direct involvement and understanding. Understanding arises directly from our personal sensibility and awareness. Direct contact creates an intimacy with the phenomenon through prolonged, firsthand exposure and immersion.

We meet the phenomenon in as free and as unprejudiced a way as possible so that it can present itself and be accurately described and understood. The hopeful result is moments of deeper clarity in which we see the phenomenon in a radically fresh and fuller way.

Phenomenological intuiting requires discipline, patience, effort and care. It requires utter concentration on the object intuited without being absorbed in it to the point of no longer looking critically or falling into blind spots.

Through intuiting, we hope to experience a moment of insight in which we sees the phenomenon in a clearer light. Phenomeno­logical disclosure is “the aha! experience,” “revelatory seeing,” or “pristine encounter.” Through phenomenological disclosure, we hope to see the thing in its own terms and to feel confident that this seeing is reasonably correct.

Consciousness, Behavior & Experience
Our personal efforts, experiences, and insights are the central means for examining the phenomenon and arriving at moments of disclosure so the phenomenon reveals something about itself in a new or fuller way.
Generally, phenomenological intuiting involves a series of smaller and larger disclosures that slowly coalesce into a fuller apprehension of the phenomenon.

In this sense, intuiting is rarely a single moment of revelation in which understanding comes in one full swoop. Instead, intuiting is gradual and unpredict­able. Through our wish, effort, and practice,  we see the phenomenon in smaller and larger ways. Patterns, relation­ships, and subtleties gradually arise that we never noticed before. Phenomenological intuiting is a flow and spiral, with unpredictability and serendipity.

We must begin somewhere and intends to end somewhere. Thus there is a movement, a progression, and eventually, an arrival. But, this movement isn’t a straight, sequential process. We see it more in terms of a flow, or of a cycling and spiraling motion. We can’t say where this flow begins. The first idea of trying to makes sense of something may evolve over the course of our genealogical research activity.

Uncharted Territory

The phenomenon is an uncharted territory that we attempt to explore, flexibly adapting to the nature and circumstances of the phenomenon. We must assume that we do not know the phenomenon but wish to, so we approach it as a beginner. We may know what we do not know, but need to consider that we may not know what we don’t know. We have no clear sense of what we will find or how discoveries will arise fluidly and unfold in a rich, unstructured, multidimensional way. A certain uncertainty and spontaneity must be accepted and creatively transformed into possibility and pattern.

We can use an existential and hermeneutic, as well as first-person approach, drawing on our realm of experience ‑- our own lived situation, setting aside preconceptions and biases. We examine specific characteristics and qualities and may become immersed in the process, its revelations and clarity. We become more perceptive, thus better able to articulate our experience. Emergent meaning arises from description and interpretation.

In genealogy the nature of ancestors is much more important for establishing the specific research procedure and descriptions, in a thoughtful, articulate way. Our specific methods and procedures fit the nature and needs of our own individual research style and the internal necessity that impels our impulses.

Our genealogy is a text imbued in some way with human meaning and therefore a subject for hermeneutic interpretation. We immerse ourselves in the process, get involved, and begin to discern configurations of meaning, of parts and wholes and their interrelationships.

We receive certain messages and glimpses of an unfolding development that beckons to be articulated and related to the total fabric of meaning. The hermeneutic allows the ancestors to be revealed to our eyes, ears, and intuition just by being what they are — to speak their own story into our understanding in the universal language of imagery and symbolism. We are the lived fabric of inescapable fleshly connectedness. A whole lifetime is imprisoned in each ancestral image, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys.

Interpretive Relativity

The issue of trustworthiness raises the question, what criteria can be used to establish the reliability of phenomenological descriptions and interpretations? Reliability first of all involves interpretive appropriateness.

How is it that we can say what we experience and yet always live more than we can say, so that we could always say more than we in fact do? How can we evaluate the adequacy or inadequacy of our expression in terms of doing justice to the full lived quality of the experience described?

How are thought and life interrelated so that they can be characterized as interdependent, as in need of each other, as complementing and interpenetrating each other? Living informs expression (language and thinking) and, in turn, thinking-language-expression reciprocally informs and gives a recognizable shaped awareness to living.

Reliability can only be had through intersubjective corroboration. Do other interested parties find in their own life and experience, either directly or vicariously, what we find in our own work? In this sense, our interpretations are no more and no less than interpretive possibilities or potentials.

The aim is an openness and empathy whereby we begin to sense the other’s situation and meaning. We can judge the trustworthiness of phenomenological interpretation from vividness, accuracy, richness, and elegance. Genealogical work is elegant because there is a clear interrelationship between real-world experiences and conceptual interpretation.

The Essence of Human Experience

In the end, this approach to genealogy is a highly personal, interpretive venture. In trying to see the phenomenon, it is very easy to see too much or too little. Looking and trying to see are very much an intuitive, spontaneous affair that involves feeling as much as thinking. In this sense, phenomenology might be described as a method to cultivate a mode of seeing with both intellectual and emotional sensibilities, for more whole and comprehensive understanding.

The genealogical work is born in a mysterious and secret way. It gains life and being. Its existence isn’t casual and inconsequential. It has a definite and purposeful strength, in its material and spiritual life. It exists and has power to create a spiritual atmosphere suitable for ancestral devotion. We adapt the form to its inner meaning. When it comes to the ancestors we can investigate general essences and watch modes of appearing.

When Lao-tzu says: “All are clear, I alone am clouded,” he is expressing what I now feel in advanced old age.

Lao-tzu is the example of a man with superior insight who has seen and experienced worth and worthlessness, and who at the end of his life desires to return into his own being, into the eternal unknowable meaning.

The archetype of the old man who has seen enough is eternally true. At every level of intelligence this type appears, and its lineaments are always the same, whether it be an old peasant or a great philosopher like Lao-tzu.

This is old age, and a limitation. Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man.

The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things.
In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself. ~Carl Jung;


~ by ionamiller on March 22, 2016.

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