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The Crisis of Political Understanding: A Phenomenological Perspective in the Conduct of Political Inquiry by Hwa Yol Jung Review by:

Fred R. Dallmayr Political Theory, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Nov., 1980), pp. 559-562 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/11/2012 16:29
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THE CRISIS OF POLITICAL UNDERSTANDING: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE IN THE CONDUCT OF POLITICAL INQUIRY by Hwa Yol Jung,Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1979,pp. XVII-256. $18.00 (cloth). "Post-behavioralism" is beginningto bear fruit.Several studies to delineateinnovative publishedduringrecentyearshave attempted pathwaysfor political thinking and inquiry.Drawing its inspiration thepresent can be chiefly from work twentieth-century phenomenology, seenas a majorcontribution to thisendeavor.As Hwa Yol Jung states (quitecorrectly) in his Preface(p. xiv),his book is "thefirst systematic orthephenomenological treatise inpolitical on phenomenology inquiry philosophyof political science which hopes to introducephenometo thosepoliticalscientists nology whowishto be self-conscious ofwhat are doing."In providing they suchan introduction, thestudy also offers "a critiqueof political theorizing in the midstof the alleged 'postbehavioralrevolution' in contemporary politicalscience." The Crisisof Political Understanding is composed of two central parts,"The Primacy of Ontology"and "A Phenomenological Critique of PoliticalKnowledge," whichare flanked portions byan Introduction and a Conclusion.The Introduction seeksto elucidateboththebook's titleand the "natureof phenomenological thinking," from proceeding the argument (p. 3) that"phenomenology is a responseto thecrisisof politicalunderstanding due largelyto the failureof scientism to take intoaccounttheexperiential vectors ofsubjectivity inpolitical inquiry." the notionof a "crisisof understanding," Regarding the authorrelies broadlyon thewritings of Husserl,Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty; the chief source, however,is clearly Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology (of 1935-1936).As he indicates(p. 4), the latterstudyhas a two-fold relevanceto his own undertaking: The Crisis vindicatedphenomenological philosophy as "essentially thedefense ofman and humanity sinceitis initself a human culturalaccomplishment"; and it soughtto disclose "the 'genesis'of sciencein thelife-world, themostinclusive horizonof meaning and the homeland ofcommonhumanity whichis presupposed in bothscientific and philosophicaltheorizing." Whilerecognizing an "ongoingYamily quarrel'among phenomenologists," the Introduction (following Husserl) presents phenomenology chiefly as a "philosophyof subjectiv-

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ity"-althoughsubjectivity is said to be lodgedin a concretely 'existing individual"who, in turn, is described as a "social being" (p. 8). with'the subjective Construed as a perspective concerned meaning of everything that mandoes," phenomenology's cutting edgeoperates both on an ontologicaland epistemological-methodological level; its ara challenge to the ontologyof "objectivism" gumentsconstitute or "naturalism" and to the epistemological creed of "scientism"-where "objectivism" impliesthedenial of "thequalitative differences between what is human-human because it is subjective-and whatis merely natural,"while"scientism"prescribes the identicaltreatment of the natural "inthenameofcausalexplanation and humanor social sciences and prediction."Seen in this light, "political behavioralism as a of humanbehavior"revealsitself philosophy invariably as "scientism," and usuallyas a typeof "objectivism" as well (p. 9). Insistingon the "primacy of ontology"over epistemology and "axiology," thefirst majorsectionofthestudy delineates botha general "phenomenological ontology of man" and the implications of this outlook for a "new humanism"in the contextof the contemporary "ecologicalcrisis."The second major partofthestudy shifts theaccent to epistemology from ontology and methodology to developguidelines fora "critique" ofavailable politicalknowledge. To laythegroundwork fora "newparadigm in thephilosophy ofthesciences," thefirst chapter in thatsection focuseson Husserl'snotionofthe"'life-world" seenas an "ultimate horizonof meaning," a notionthatis treated as synonymous with Schutz's conceptionsof "social reality"or mundane"everyday life."In political science,phenomenological inquiry is assigned thetask of discovering "the genesisof meaningin theimmediate, experiential, and commonsense knowledgeof politicalactors."In two subsequent thesame vantagepointis thebasis fora critique chapters, of"'political behavioralism" or positivismas illustrated in the writings of Heinz Eulau, Anthony Downs, and T. D. Weldonand foran attackon the "cybernetic modelofman"as championed byKarl Deutschand Herbert Simon. Finally,in the last two chaptersof thissection,phenomenology's theoretical criticaledge is extendedto an analysisof two competing vistas:thosearticulatedby C. B. Macphersonand Leo Strauss.The Conclusion recapitulatesthe major topics and tenetsof the study, of"phenomenological twocentral contributions emphasizing thinking"

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to politicalinquiry(p. 166): "therecovery of ontologyas the basis of and "the self-examination epistemology" of thinking consciousness itself as humanproject." Setting aside some minorquestionsand disagreements, thequeries centralto the study'sambitionsrelateto its account of thestatusand significance of phenomenology. Throughoutthe study,phenomenologicalinquiry with tendsto be linked consciousness or "subjectivity"a link whichis puzzlingin view of the author'sfrequent relianceon Heideggerwhose opus, seen as a whole,signalsan attempt to break loose from thesephilosophical The secondchapter, itis true, moorings. to modify theinitialaccountby noting(pp. 18-19)thatphenometries on subjectivity" nology's"emphasis is "nota denialof 'objectivity"' and that"thecardinalmerit of phenomenology lies in itsavoidanceofboth extremes of subjectivism and objectivism or of the dualismof subjecand objectivity." tivity Butneither thesecomments northe"affirmation of the complementarity of subjectivity and objectivity" exertmuch effect on thetenorof thestudy. The same chapter later(p. 30, 36) labels a "philosophyof subjectivity" phenomenology and statesthat"what thephenomenological distinguishes viewoflanguageor speechfrom all otherviews is its subjectivestandpoint." More emphatically still,the concluding chapter in itstitle heralds""the triumph of subjectivity inthe conduct of political inquiry" and insists (pp. 170-171) that "the immediate aim of phenomenological reflection" is to combatscientism "by recovering subjectivity". Statementssuch as these are bound to complicatethe notion of "connaturality" or the reconciliation of man and natureenvisaged in other portionsof the study.Junghimself, followingMircea Eliade, notes(pp. 46-47)that"bymaking history independent ofnature modern man has replacedthe'imitation of nature'withthe'terror of history'." The Conclusion eloquentlyreaffirms "connaturality" by emphasizing (pp. 167, 169) that "to recognizethe ontologicaldifferentia between man and nature, thatis, theprivileged positionof man from therest of natureis not to fallinto homocentrism or anthropocentrism" and that "we mustredefine our notionsof 'nature'and 'history' (or 'culture') in such a waythatthey willnotbecomedichotomous or onesided."While plausible and persuasive, however,these assertionsare not easily reconciledwith the definition of man as subjectivity and with the distinction between "whatis human"and "whatis merely natural."In a

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similar manner,the contrast betweenthe pejorativeterm "homosome(pp. 41, 144) remains and theespoused "humanism" centrism" (p. 107)that, bytheaffirmation whatopaque. This opacityis increased he oftheuniverse," center "manmayno longerbe thephysical although centerof theworld." "is stillthemetaphysical -Fred R. Dallmayr
of Notre Dame University

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