Being open to the world

C. Jason Throop


As the Czech phenomenologist Jan Patočka poetically phrased it, human beings are “beings of the far reaches.” Our human condition is, in other words, conditioned by the existential fact that we are beings who are open, attuned, and responsive to the world. Building upon and extending some of my earlier reflections on the distinctive modes of openness, attunement, and responsivity that are revealed in the context of ethnographic practice, this essay will seek to clear some new pathways to potentiating generative dialogue between anthropological and philosophical phenomenology. In particular, the article will explore how a phenomenologically informed analysis of the specific form of bracketing that arises in ethnographic encounters—what I have termed the ethnographic epoché—can help anthropologists and philosophers alike to rethink possibilities for thinking, not only in the context of their respective modes of inquiry but also at points where the two fields mutually intersect.


attunement, ethnographic epoché, phenomenology, philosophy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/698271