这是一场哲学运动，从第一人称的角度研究意识经验(Moran, 2000)。这里强调的是经验的意向性——也就是说，有意识的经验是指向某些现象的，而不仅仅是漫无目的的。这种目的性通常包含在第一人称自己经历的意义中。人类的经验被认为是有意识的，这意味着我们通常在某种程度上意识到正在发生的经验，而不是像西格蒙德·弗洛伊德的精神分析观点那样，经验并不总是有意识的。意识体验的定义是广义的，它包含了很多因素，包括感觉、知觉、物体、事件、时间、自我、他人、空间、序列、情感、逻辑等等，特别强调这些体验的意义(两个个体可能有完全相同的体验，但却有完全不同的意义)。从历史上看，现象学一直是一种支离破碎的哲学，尤其是自20世纪初以来，出现了许多变体，并逐渐形成，这些变体源自哲学家的著作，如马丁·海德格尔(Martin Heidegger)、让-保罗·萨特尔(Jean-Paul Satre)、埃德蒙·胡塞尔(Edmund Husserl)等黑格尔、马克思·谢勒等人。我们所知道的盎格鲁-撒克逊欧洲哲学的基本传统在上个世纪一直被现象学所主导，目前为临床研究的主要部分提供了哲学基础，通常归入定性研究的范畴。
This is a philosophical movement concerned with the study of conscious experience, from the point of view of the first person (Moran, 2000). There is emphasis on the intentionality of experience – that is, the idea that conscious experience is directed towards some phenomena, rather than being merely aimless. Such purposefulness is usually contained in the meaning that the first person ascribes to his or her experience. Human experience is said to be conscious, meaning that we are somehow usually aware of an experience as it is happening, as opposed to for example Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic view in which experience isn’t always conscious. Conscious experience is defined in broad terms, incorporating a wide range of factors including sensation, perception, objects, events, time, self, others, space, sequence, emotion, logic, and so on, with particular emphasis on the meanings of these experiences (two individuals may have exactly the same experience, yet attach completely different meanings). Historically, phenomenology has been a fragmented philosophy, with numerous variations emerging and becoming established especially since the early part of the 20th century, deriving from works of philosophers like Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Satre, Edmund Husserl, G.W.F Hegel, Max Scheler, and others. The basic tradition of Anglo-Saxon European philosophy as we know it has been dominated by phenomenology throughout the last century, and currently provides the philosophical basis for a major part of clinical studies, usually subsumed under the heading of qualitative research.