New phenomenology

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The New Phenomenology is a variant of phenomenology that was introduced by the philosopher Hermann Schmitz in the 1960s and has been continuously developed since then . A rediscovery of the involuntary life experience is the basis of the New Phenomenology: It is based on what every person pre-theoretically feels on their own body . For this reason, collaboration with the fields of medicine and psychology is of great importance for New Phenomenology.


Hermann Schmitz laid the theoretical foundations of the New Phenomenology in his ten-volume work "System der Philosophie", which was published between 1964 and 1980. In it, Schmitz criticizes the philosophers who have dominated history since Plato and Democritus for separating human thinking from the greater part of involuntary life experience. The main reason for this fact is a cognitive paradigm that the philosophers have inherited from theologians and today's natural scientists. Schmitz describes the paradigm as a “fatal imprint”, which consists of the 3 aspects of psychologism, reductionism and introjectionism. Schmitz explains the three components of the criticized dogma as follows:

  • Psychologism describes the fact that all experiences of a person are relocated to a closed inner world (the soul ), which is ruled by a central authority (the will, the reason or the like).
  • Reductionism means that the empirical external world is reduced to a small number of features that fit the existing statistical and experimental methods of the sciences (especially the natural sciences ).
  • Introjection means that what remains of the reduction is stored in an inner world. For example, feelings as non-measurable occurrences are simply transferred to the soul as a refuge for subjectivity.

Schmitz opposes this tripartite paradigm, because it means that important, if not the most important, facets of human life are forgotten. The New Phenomenology recognizes the following phenomena that are subject to reduction:

  • the atmospheres, including the weather and the silence, but mainly the feelings, which are understood as spatially poured out forces that can affect the body;
  • the situations, i.e. holistic manifolds, which are constituted by meanings, facts, programs and problems;
  • the body, which means neither body nor soul, but an entity that is spatially extended in a manner similar to noise, i.e. H. it is predimensional and indivisible, yet not unstructured;
  • bodily communication, a type of interaction between a person and a partner who need not necessarily be a living being;
  • the half-things, which are determined by the fact that they exist only during intervals (and there is no point in asking where they are during the intermediate phases (e.g. wind)) and that they can have direct causal effects;
  • the space insofar as it is not a space made up of relative locations that define each other, but the space of hearing, body, and feelings.

The New Phenomenology examines these mostly neglected phenomena of the lifeworld . These investigations form a starting point for numerous further investigations, such as questions of practical philosophy ( ethics , legal philosophy , political philosophy ), theology and aesthetics .

Fundamental to all of these areas is the theory of subjectivity. It was a great mistake of traditional thinkers to assume that all facts must and can be objective facts. The New Phenomenology shows that there are subjective facts that can only be ascertained by a person, and that objective facts are mere residues of the more fundamental subjective facts.

Subjective facts depend on someone being affected by something. As a result, the vital drive that results from the interplay of the poles of narrowing and widening is modified and physically felt. The extreme point of constriction is the body, as can be experienced, for example, in moments of great horror. This tightness is a basic requirement for all corporeality. From the narrowness that Schmitz calls the “primitive present” , the “unfolded present” spreads out into the following five dimensions:

  • the here (the absolute place)
  • the now (the absolute point in time)
  • To be there
  • this (identity and diversity)
  • the I (subjectivity)

If these five dimensions coincide at one point, as it were, there is a primitive presence, a state in which many animals and babies are found. But when the five dimensions are developed, life begins in the developed present. The New Phenomenology proves in this way that human beings can only ascribe something to themselves if there is a physical basis for it. This bodily basis must contain both the primitive presence (as an absolute reference point) and a certain degree of emancipation from the narrowness, because in a state of pure constriction an attribution is impossible.

Application and further development

Schmitz conceived the New Phenomenology as an application-oriented philosophy. In numerous cases it has found connection with other individual sciences that have been able to use the concepts offered by the New Phenomenology. Both theoretical and practical advances have been made in medicine, psychology and psychotherapy in particular. In addition, the New Phenomenology has found its way into disciplines such as sociology, education, architecture and economics.

In addition, the approaches of the New Phenomenology were partially taken up and further developed by the philosopher Guido Rappe , who is a student of Schmitz. The systematic treatment of the biographical dimension of the body, which Schmitz can only find rudiments, is to be seen as an essential extension. In addition to the spatial dimension of narrow and spaciousness conceived by Schmitz, Rappe also places the temporal dimension of pleasure and displeasure. Because this temporal dimension is closely connected with the socialization of a person, the New Phenomenology with this extension opens up to a particular degree for sociology. An explicit connection of this dimension with the concepts of Schmitz is made by Christian Julmi , who works out the share of pleasure and displeasure for the physical communication, the common situation and the atmosphere and in this way takes into account their development over time.



  1. Schmitz, Hermann: The inexhaustible object. Bonn 1995, p. 17
  2. See System der Philosophie, Vol. I: Die Gegenwart, Bonn 1964.
  3. See the GNP website
  4. See e.g. B. Robert Gugutzer : Embodiments of the social. Neophenomenological basics and sociological analyzes . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2012.
  5. Florian Hartnack: Physical didactics. Educational processes from a body phenomenological perspective. 2017, accessed February 8, 2017 .
  6. See e.g. B. Jürgen Hasse : The city as a space of atmospheres. To differentiate between atmospheres and moods . In: The Old City . tape 35 , no. 2 , 2008, p. 103-116 .
  7. See e.g. B. Christian Julmi, Ewald Scherm : The atmospheric influence on the organizational culture . In: SEM Radar. Journal for systems thinking and decision-making in management . tape 11 , no. 2 , 2012, p. 3–37 ( [PDF; 526 kB ]).
  8. Cf. Guido Rappe : Intercultural Ethics, Vol. II: Ethical Anthropology, Part 1: The body as a foundation of ethics . European University Press, Berlin / Bochum / London / Paris 2005, ISBN 3-86515-003-9 .
  9. See Guido Rappe: Intercultural Ethics, Vol. II: Ethical Anthropology, Part 2: Personal Ethics . European University Press, Berlin / Bochum / London / Paris 2006, ISBN 3-86515-003-9 .
  10. See Guido Rappe: Body and Subject. Phenomenological contributions to an expanded view of man . Projektverlag, Bochum 2012, ISBN 978-3-89733-255-3 .
  11. Cf. Christian Julmi : Atmospheres in Organizations. How feelings dominate coexistence in organizations . Projektverlag, Bochum / Freiburg 2015, pp. 127–147.
  12. Cf. Christian Julmi: Atmospheres in Organizations. How feelings dominate coexistence in organizations . Projektverlag, Bochum / Freiburg 2015, pp. 147–154.
  13. Cf. Christian Julmi: Atmospheres in Organizations. How feelings dominate coexistence in organizations . Projektverlag, Bochum / Freiburg 2015, pp. 154–160, 205–217.

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