Phenomenology (science)

Phenomenology (science)

The term phenomenology in science is used to describe a body of knowledge which relates several different empirical observations of phenomena to each other, in a way which is "consistent" with fundamental theory, but is not directly derived from theory. For example, we find the following definition in the "Concise Dictionary of Physics":

The name is derived from phenomenon (from Greek φαινόμενoν, pl. φαινόμενα - phenomena) is any occurrence that is observable.

Phenomenology in physical sciences

There are cases in physics when it is not possible to derive a theory for describing observed results using first principles (such as Newton's laws of motion or Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism). There may be several reasons for this: For example, the underlying theory is not yet understood or non existent, or the mathematics to describe the observations is too complex. Sometime different length, mass and time scales are used to build a phenomenological theory.

In these cases sometimes simple algebraic expressions may be used to model observations or experimental results and used to make predictions about the results of other observations or experiments, despite the fact that the expressions themselves cannot be (or have not yet been) derived from the fundamental theory of that domain of knowledge.Fact|date=November 2007

Another way of describing phenomenology is that it is intermediate between experiment and theory. It is more abstract and includes more logical steps than experiment, but is more directly tied to experiment than theory. Fact|date=November 2007

The boundaries between theory and phenomenology, and between phenomenology and experiment, are somewhat fuzzy and to some extent depend on the preconceptions of the scientist describing these and the particular field in which the scientist works.Fact|date=November 2007

The philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright does not believe in the fundamental laws but merely in the phenomenological laws of science [Cartwright, Nancy, intro., "How the Laws of Physics Lie", 1984, Oxford U.]

Examples in physics

The examples below are in chronological order.
*Stefan–Boltzmann law (1879 ) states that the total energy radiated per unit surface area of a black body in unit time is directly proportional to the "T"4, where "T" is the black body's thermodynamic temperature. The law was deduced by Jožef Stefan (1835-1893) on the basis of experimental measurements made by John Tyndall. It was derived from theoretical considerations, using thermodynamics, by Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906) in 1884. So until Boltzman's derivation Stefan's Law was a phenomenological theory.
* Rutherford model also known as planetary model (1911) describes the structure of an atom based on the experimental results. It has a number of essential modern features, including a relatively high central charge concentrated into a very small volume in comparison to the rest of the atom. It resembles the planetary system, a known physical object larger by several orders of magnitude. It was superseded in 1913 by the Bohr model, which used some of the early quantum mechanical results to give locational structure to the behavior of the orbiting electrons, confining them to certain circular (and later elliptical) orbits.
*Landau theory of second order phase transitions (1936).
*Bloch equations (1946).
*Ginzburg-Landau theory of superconductivity (1950).

Phenomenology in social statistics

In the science of Statistics, the collection of quantifiable data from people involves a phenomenological step. Namely, in order to obtain that data, survey questions must be designed to collect "measurable" responses which are categorized in a logically sound and practical way, such that the "form" in which the questions are asked does not bias the "results". If this is not done, data distortions due to question-wording effects (response error) occur, and the data obtained may have no validity at all, because observations are counted up which do not have the same meaning (it would be like "adding up apples and pears"). A prerequisite of a good survey is that all respondents are really able to give a definite and unambiguous answer to the questions, and that they understand what is asked of them in the same way. One could for example ask farmers "How much risk do you run on your farm?" with a scale of response options ranging from e.g. "a lot of risk" to "no risk". But this yields quantitatively meaningless data which is not objective, since the interpretations of risk by farmers could focus on e.g. on the number, size, frequency, severity or consequence of risks, and each farmer will have his own idiosyncratic idea about that. All farmers may suffer e.g. from a lack of rainfall, but some will personally consider it a large risk, others a low risk and some not a risk at all. Furthermore, in actually asking the questions of respondents and subsequently coding the responses to numerical values, a technique must be found to ensure that no misinterpretation occurs of a type that would lead to errors. In other words, in designing the survey instrument, the researcher must somehow find a satisfactory "bridge" of meaning between the logical and practical requirements of the survey statistician, a statistical classification scheme, the awareness of respondents and the processors of the raw data. Finding this "bridge" involves an abstraction process which necessarily goes beyond logical inference, theory and experiment and involves an element of "art", because it must establish an appropriate connection between the language used, the intersubjective interactions between the surveyor and the respondent, and how respondents and those who process the data construct the meaning of what is being asked of them. For this cognitive process, it is impossible to provide a standard procedure which will always work, only "rules of thumb"; it requires a "practical" human insight.

References

ee also

*Empirical relationship
*Heterophenomenology
*Particle physics phenomenology
*Phenomenology in Philosophy
*Phenomenology in Psychology


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Phenomenology — may be:* Phenomenology (philosophy) * Phenomenology (science) * Phenomenology (particle physics) * Phenomenology (architecture) * Phenomenology (psychology) …   Wikipedia

  • Phenomenology (particle physics) — Particle physics phenomenology is the part of theoretical particle physics that deals with the application of theory to high energy particle physics experiments. Within the Standard Model, phenomenology is the calculating of detailed predictions… …   Wikipedia

  • Phenomenology (philosophy) — Phenomenology is the study of phenomena (from Greek, meaning that which appears ) and how they appear to us from a first person perspective. In modern times, it usually refers to the philosophy developed by Edmund Husserl, which is primarily… …   Wikipedia

  • Phenomenology (architecture) — Phenomenology is both a philosophical design current in contemporary architecture and a specific field of academic research, based on the physical experience of building materials and their sensory properties.Beginning in the 1970s, phenomenology …   Wikipedia

  • phenomenology — phenomenology, phenomenological sociology Phenomenology is a philosophical method of inquiry developed by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl. It involves the systematic investigation of consciousness. Consciousness, it is argued, is the only… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Science (Philosophies of) — Philosophies of science Mach, Duhem, Bachelard Babette E.Babich THE TRADITION OF CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE If the philosophy of science is not typically represented as a ‘continental’ discipline it is nevertheless historically rooted in… …   History of philosophy

  • phenomenology — phenomenological /fi nom euh nl oj i keuhl/, phenomenologic, adj. phenomenologically, adv. phenomenologist, n. /fi nom euh nol euh jee/, n. Philos. 1. the study of phenomena. 2. the system of Husserl and his followers stressing the description of …   Universalium

  • Phenomenology (The beginnings of) — The beginnings of phenomenology Husserl and his predecessors Richard Cobb Stevens Edmund Husserl was the founder of phenomenology, one of the principal movements of twentieth century philosophy. His principal contribution to philosophy was his… …   History of philosophy

  • Phenomenology of religion — The phenomenology of religion concerns the experiential aspect of religion, describing religious phenomena in terms consistent with the orientation of the worshippers. It views religion as being made up of different components, and studies these… …   Wikipedia

  • phenomenology —    by Tamsin Lorraine   Phenomenology as a philosophical movement was founded by Edmund Husserl. René Descartes, Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel are important precursors to this movement that insists upon returning to the things… …   The Deleuze dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.