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phenomenon +‎ -logy, from Ancient Greek φαινόμενον (phainómenon, thing appearing to view), hence "the study of what shows itself (to consciousness)".

According to Heidegger's Introduction to Phenomenological Research, "the expression “phenomenology” first appears in the eighteenth century in Christian Wolff’s School, in Lambert’s Neues Organon, in connection with analogous developments popular at the time, like dianoiology and alethiology, and means a theory of illusion, a doctrine for avoiding illusion." (p.3)


  • (UK) IPA(key): /fɪˌnɒmɪˈnɒlədʒi/
  • (US) enPR: fĭ-nä'-mə-nälʹə-jē, IPA(key): /fɪˌnɑməˈnɑlədʒi/


phenomenology (countable and uncountable, plural phenomenologies)

  1. (philosophy) The study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view.
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, London: Rider/Hutchinson & Co., page 196:
      Writing, individuation, and civilization are all parts of one larger cultural phenomenology.
    • 1994, Herbert Spiegelberg; Karl Schuhmann, “Introduction”, in The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction, 3rd rev. and enlarged edition, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, DOI:10.1007/978-94-009-7491-3, →ISBN, page 8:
      A similar and more influential use of the term can be found in William Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), where phenomenology occurs in the context of the "palaetiological sciences" (i.e., sciences which deal wih more ancient conditions of things), as that branch of these studies which is to be followed by aetiology and theory. Among such phenomenologies Whewell mentions particularly phenomenological uranology, phenomenological geography of plants and animals, and even a phenomenological glossology.
  2. (philosophy) A movement based on this, originated about 1905 by Edmund Husserl.
  3. (physics) The use of theoretical models to make predictions that can be tested through experiments.
    • c. 2000, “Zero Energy - Thomas Bearden”, in Alternative Energy[1], retrieved 2021-01-21:
      He hopes [students] will "do the necessary phenomenology experiments and produce the necessary theory extensions" that will "turn over the present physics."
    • a. 2017, “Zhejiang University, China, Zhejiang Institute of Modern Physics”, in[2], retrieved 2021-01-21:
      Particle phenomenology research includes perturbative QCD [quantum chromodynamics], physics beyond the Standard Model as well as heavy flavor physics.
    • 2018, Tim Lappe, “Superfluid Helium: The Volovik Lessons”, in Walter Geiner; Ernst Bamberg; Marc Thilo Figge; Thomas Haberer; Volker Lindenstruth; Joachim Reinhardt; Klaus Schulten; Wolf Singer; Horst Stöcker, editors, Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity (FIAS Interdisciplinary Science), Springer International Publishing, DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-64537-7, →ISBN, LCCN 2017948197, page 15:
      Well, it is in some sense the basic job description of a physicist to try to conceive of methods that make accessible natural phenomena that where hitherto out of reach, and to do so by devicing[sic] experiments. It is here that phenomenology comes into play by trying to work out models that can actually be tested by available data.
    • [a. 2020, “Research interests”, in Université de Montréal[3], retrieved 2021-01-21:
      The group's many projects include the modelling of observations (phenomenology)]

Derived terms[edit]