Phenomenology, as the philosophical attempt to account for the structure of experience, has some methodological relationship with craft, or ‘making’ as it has come to be called. Heidegger’s(1954) phenomenology of silversmithing a chalice provides an example. He describes the experience and significance of wielding a hammer, and of the object that is being made. It is important to phrase the last clause in the passive voice. Heidegger was not a silversmith or practitioner of any other material craft, as far as I know. The contemporary ‘maker movement’ offers philosophers a renewed opportunity to engage with the “things themselves”. As van Manen(2014) notes, much phenomenology entails reflecting on a pre-reflective experience. Often those experiences are not all-consuming. He gives the example of driving home, and skillfully operating the car, with no clear memory of the drive. On the other hand, making an object also involves concentration in- the- moment, but the process is ostensive, rather than performative. The object bears the marks of the process by which one made it.
By making objects intended as subjects of reflection, we can develop new thoughts abductively, which can then be subject to inductive or deductive analysis. While I do not think this is the sole way to do phenomenology, I think this allows a means for engaging with the things themselves with both creativity and wonder.


Words to think on:

imaginative variation (is this not ‘art’?)

Heidegger, Martin. The Question Concerning Technology (1954) in Basic Writings David Farrel Krell, ed. Harper Collins, 1993

Hatch, Mark. The Maker Movement Manifesto.2014

Van Manen, Max. Phenomenology of practice: Meaning-giving methods in phenomenological research and writing. Vol. 13. Left Coast Press, 2014.