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What Might Happen if We Begin With Concept in Post-Intentional Phenomenology?

Sun, April 30, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Floor: Meeting Room Level, Room 207 B


In her envisioning of post-humanist qualitative research, Bettie St. Pierre has convincingly argued for a move away from method—in favor of philosophical concept. As someone deeply interested in conducting philosophically-informed research, where the lines between philosophy and methodology are difficult to distinguish, I find St. Pierre’s insight intriguing. In this paper, I explore what beginning with philosophical concept might mean for post-intentional phenomenologists (Author, 2014, 2015).

Theoretical Perspectives
Phenomenology and poststructural theory might be considered incommensurate--the former being read as a predominantly humanist project and assuming a stable subject; the latter being read as a more open, complicated project in which ideas are inherently unstable. However, post-intentional phenomenology actively seeks to craft spaces where post ideas and phenomenological ideas can be used together—and Deleuze & Guattari’s (1987) assemblage provides one such possible space. I use assemblage to reconceive the phenomenon as something that produces, rather than means. In this way, an assemblage is not a “thing,” it is the process of making and unmaking, which implies that it is never finished, and is open for innumerable makings and unmakings.

Mode of Inquiry/Evidence
As the title of this paper indicates, the question that guided this theoretical analysis was: What might happen if we begin with concept in post-intentional phenomenology? I used the Deleuzoguattarian configuration, assemblage, as the concept under focus in this paper. I work through Deleuze and Guattari’s (1996) notion that every concept has an irregular contour, suggesting that a concept is a multiplicity in and of itself.

Results & Significance
What resulted were two substantive implications that I take up in the paper.
1) The phenomenon, in a post-intentional phenomenological inquiry, might then be difficult to distinguish from the philosophical concept that launches the inquiry. Ontoepistemologically-speaking, this is significant, as most interpretations of phenomenology treat concept and phenomena as separate. Further, concepts are often thought to move the phenomenologist away from the Husserlian thing itself (the phenomenon), and should then be held at bay. From a post-intentional perspective, philosophical concept and phenomenon are entangled and inseperable.

2) Although a post-intentional phenomenological inquiry could start with any philosophical concept, broadly speaking, assemblage is a productive starting point as it can help us see that concepts are shape-shifting and unstable—just as post-intentional phenomena are seen as malleable, changing, contextual, and fleeting. This is of equal significance to implication #1, as I worry that if concept is conceived as stable (something that can be wielded and used) the move to starting with concept could fall prey to the same fate as method—the alluring concreteness of ontoepistemologial stability, which could lead to interpretations of concept as rigid. However, if we are interested in continuing to take the post-humanist turn in qualitative inquiry, and with the idea of starting with concept in particular, I suggest then that the very starting points of concept are best seen as irregular and contoured.