Accepted Paper:

The methodological problem of the epoché  

Author:

Anne Line Dalsgård (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

How is a description of “things as they are” at all possible? Is there a way - if just for moments - to bypass the habits of the natural attitude? In this paper I discuss the anthropological relevance of the notion of the epoché, drawing upon my experiences from long-term fieldwork in Brazil.

Paper long abstract:

Phenomenology is "an investigation into the structures of experience which precede connected expression in language" (Ricoeur 1979:127). It implies a rigorous description of things as they appear to consciousness, and thus is seems closely linked to the effort undertaken in anthropological participant-observation. But we may ask how such a description is at all possible? And also, how anthropologists can make use of this method, knowing how bodily habits and emotional attitudes are closely linked to language and thought. Is there a way, or perhaps a rather a search, that allows us - if just for moments - to bypass these habits and attitudes? Merleau-Ponty writes that ´only at the cost of losing the basis of all my certainties can I question what is conveyed to me by my presence to myself´. In this paper I shall ponder upon the notion of the epoché, drawing on my experiences from long-term fieldwork in Brazil.

Panel W087
Phenomenological anthropology as research method: debating the pre-textual basis of ethnographic fieldwork