Phenomenology, ethics, and the crisis of the lived-body
Canada Research Chair in Rhetoric & Ethics, Department of English Language & Literature, Carleton University, Ottawa, and Associate Professor, Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada. Nursing Philosophy
(Impact Factor: 0.83).
10/2012; 13(4):289-94. DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-769X.2011.00533.x
Available from: Stuart J Murray
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ABSTRACT: This article is a critical methodological reflection on the use of interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) initiated in the context of a qualitative research project on the experience of seclusion in a psychiatric setting. It addresses an explicit gap in the IPA literature to explore the ways that Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology can extend the remit of IPA for noncognitivist qualitative research projects beyond the field of health psychology. In particular, the article develops Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of the lived-body, language, and embodied speech, with specific attention to the ethical implications of body and place. It concludes with a discussion on phenomenological reflexivity and prompts a reconsideration of phenomenological methods across a wide range of qualitative research projects concerned with subjectivity and ethical practice, including critical health studies, critical bioethics, and cultural studies that employ a qualitative empirical research design.
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ABSTRACT: Working within the tradition of continental philosophy, this article argues in favour of a phenomenological understanding of language as a crucial component of bioethical inquiry. The authors challenge the 'commonsense' view of language, in which thinking appears as prior to speaking, and speech the straightforward vehicle of pre-existing thoughts. Drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty's (1908-1961) phenomenology of language, the authors claim that thinking takes place in and through the spoken word, in and through embodied language. This view resituates bioethics as a matter of bodies that speak. It also refigures the meaning of ethical self-reflexion, and in so doing offers an alternative view on reflexivity and critique. Referring to the Kantian critical tradition and its reception by Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault, we advance a position we call 'critical ethical reflexivity'. We contend that Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of language offers valuable insight into ethical reflexivity and subject formation. Moreover, his understanding of language may foster new qualitative empirical research in bioethics, lead to more nuanced methods for interpreting personal narratives, and promote critical self-reflexion as necessary for bioethical inquiry.
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