Principally, phenomenologists believe that knowledge and understanding are embedded in our everyday world. For me, Shaw (2002) crystalises the proposition of phenomenology when she (2002, p. 130) asks, “what happens when spontaneity, unpredictability and our capacity to be surprised by ourselves are not explained away but kept at the very heart of an account of the evolution of sense-of-self-in-the-world?” In other words, phenomenology is the art of extracting meaning from the complex mesh of ideas, feelings, interpretations, etc; that make up our lived experience. Phenomenologists do not believe that knowledge can be qualified or reduced to numbers of statistics (Byrne (2001). This rejection of the empirical – as the ‘one true source’ of knowledge, is a direct rebuttal of objectivism – the worldview growing from modern natural science and technology that has been spreading from Northern Europe since the Renaissance (Center for Advanced Phenomenological Research,1997); which maintains that the data of ‘sense experience’ are the only object and the supreme criterion of human knowledge (Sauvage, 1911).
According to phenomenologists (Woodruff Smith, 2008), the central structure of an experience is its intentionality; that is to say, “the characteristic of consciousness whereby it is conscious of something – i.e., its directedness toward an object” (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009). An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions. Where first-person meaning is the object of the enquiry, the classical phenomenological methodology may result in an enriched subjective understanding or awareness of the lived experience.