Experience and history

David Carr

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Experience and history

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Phenomenological questions differ from those of metaphysics and epistemology. Regarding history, rather than asking: What is history? Or: How do we know history? a phenomenology of history inquires into history as a phenomenon, and into the experience of the historical. How does history present itself to us, how does it enter our lives, and what are the forms of experience in which it does so? The purpose of this essay is to outline a distinctively phenomenological approach to history. History is usually associated with social existence and its past, and so this essay will ask about the experience of the social world and of its temporality. Experience in this context connotes not just observation but also involvement and interaction. We experience history not just in the social world around us but also in our own engagement with it. Philosophers have asked both metaphysical and epistemological questions about history, and some of the best-known philosophies of history have resulted from this questioning. The phenomenological approach is different, but it is not unrelated to these traditional philosophical questions. The later part of this essay will turn in some detail to how phenomenology, though distinct, may connect to these questions.

Keywords: philosophy of history; representation; memory; human world; Edmund Husserl; participation; membership

Article.  10272 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology

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