Front Page Titles (by Subject) Phenomenology and the Social Sciences - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1982, vol. 5, No. 2
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Phenomenology and the Social Sciences - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1982, vol. 5, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Phenomenology and the Social Sciences
“Preface” and “The Nature of Phenomenological Thinking.” In The Crisis of Political Understanding: A Phenomenological Perspective in the Conduct of Political Inquiry. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1979, pp. xiii-xvii, 1–13.
Phenomenology—a new paradigm in man's understanding of himself as both knower and actor—has come of age in the social sciences, long after its founding fathers (Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty) have spelled out its revolutionary implications for philosophy. Since the seminal publication of Alfred Schutz' Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt in 1932 (which was translated as The Phenomenology of the Social World in 1967), it has taken four decades for phenomenology to reach its maturity in the social sciences. The 1973 publication of Phenomenology and the Social Sciences edited by Maurice Natanson in two volumes represents this new direction and turning point in contemporary philosophy of the social sciences. Adding to this phenomenological momentum was the inauguration in 1978 of Human Studies: A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences, edited by George Psathas. Jung's present volume is the first systematic treatise on the phenomenological philosophy of political science.
Jung's study is a critique of political theorizing in contemporary political science. Treating phenomenology as reflexive, self-conscious thinking that seeks the “origin” of knowledge or truth in the everyday, experiential life-world (Lebenswelt), the author seeks an alternative way of theorizing to the prevailing theories of politics which have been dominated by ontological objectivism and epistemological scientism—particularly by political behaviorism. The model Jung develops is the phenomenological thought of Merleau-Ponty, “a ceaseless interrogation on an inseparable link between existence and meaning in all their ramifications.”
Phenomenology is a response to the crisis of political understanding due largely to the failure of the paradigm of objectivist scientism to take into account the subjectivist, experiential dimensions in political inquiry. Husserl's Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology identified the roots of this crisis as the fact-minded, meaningless epistemology of positivism and naturalistic objectivism. Phenomenology, by contrast, is a “movement” focused on a critique of human knowledge, an inquiry into the limits and possibilities of human cognition in terms of experiential evidence. In Socratic fashion it conceives of philosophy as a perpetual beginning in wonder, and it seeks knowledge (episteme) by plunging into the world of doxa, or everyday experience.
The crisis of humanity is foremost the crisis of thinking. Adolf Eichmann's horrendous callousness reveals the “banality of evil” as thoughtlessness. To remedy this crisis, phenomenology cultivates thinking as the spirit of questioning in accord with the natural order of things. We can discriminate authentic thinking (what Heidegger called “meditative thinking”) from inauthentic thinking (“calculative thinking”). Inauthentic thinking is characteristic of technocratic, instrumental thinking whose roots stretch back to Plato, Descartes, Galileo, and Hegel. Inauthentic thinking, unlike meditative thinking, divorces the intentional subject from the object of knowing. Such an objectivism is a ‘scientism’ since it claims that the human or social sciences can be studied in the same way as the natural sciences, that is, through causal explanations and prediction. Phenomenology, however, aims at a “reflective liberation” by being self-critical. This self-scrutiny, or practicing the phenomenological “reduction” (epoche) is not escapism; it seeks to be a bridge between the solitude of radical reflection and the community of human action. Truth, as implied in the Delphic motto “Know thyself,” dwells in the self-examination undertaken when we reflect upon our own thinking—even political thinking. We need to withdraw from political activity in order to engage in the most political and searching of activities: reflexive thinking.
Jung provides an extensive bibliography on phenomenological political thinking and discusses phenomenological ontology, the critique of behavioralism, scientistic positivism, and “the cybernetic model of man in political science,” together with analyses of C.B. Macpherson and Leo Strauss.
The Heritage of Liberty
Literature of Liberty covered a related set of articles in the preceding issue under the title “History & Liberty.” With an accelerating tempo, contemporary scholarship (in the fields of history, economic thought, political theory, and social theory) has investigated and clarified the debates, beginning in the early modern era, over religious and political liberty, property theory, natural rights, class analysis, and republican ideology. Students of human liberty living today are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of these impressive new interdisciplinary researches. In the future, we can expect even more brilliant syntheses relating the value of liberty to human development.