Phenomenological Reviews

Book | Chapter


Is "phenomenology" a family resemblance term?

Tom Sparrow

pp. 325-343


In this chapter, Tom Sparrow argues that when phenomenology is regarded as a family resemblance term—an increasingly accepted practice these days—we are encouraged to see it less as a method and more as a style of philosophy. The result is that phenomenology loses its coherence, its meaning, and arguably its usefulness. This is because identification of the various members of the phenomenological family is made ad hoc, rather than on the basis of a guiding principle that would ground their identification. Such ad hoc definition begs the question of phenomenology's meaning and leaves its essence hidden. It fails to indicate the purpose of phenomenology, what it can accomplish, or why anyone would want to adopt it as an approach to research.

Publication details

Published in:

Simmons J Aaron, Hackett James Edward (2016) Phenomenology for the twenty-first century. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Pages: 325-343

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-55039-2_16

Full citation:

Sparrow Tom (2016) „Is "phenomenology" a family resemblance term?“, In: J.A. Simmons & J.E. Hackett (eds.), Phenomenology for the twenty-first century, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 325–343.