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Describing the Practice of Introspection

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The main objective of this article is to capitalise on many years of research, and of practice, relating to the use of introspection in a research context, and thus to provide an initial outline description of introspection, while developing an introspection of introspection. After a description of the context of this research, I define the institutional conditions which would enable the renewal of introspection as a research methodology. Then I describe three aspects of introspective practice: 1) introspection as a process of becoming aware, theorized through Husserl's model of consciousness modes; 2) introspection as recollection, through the model of retention and awakening in Husserl's theory of memory; 3) the use of universal descriptive categories for the description of all lived experiences, as a guide for skilled practice of introspection in research. Finally I examine the question of the validation of introspective data, suggesting a strong distinction between the ethical criterion and the epistemic criterion of truth.
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Keywords: Consciousness; Husserl; descriptive categories; explicitation interview; introspection; lived experience; phenomenology; pre-reflective

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: 2009-01-01

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