Six Senses of Critique for Critical Phenomenology

Lisa Guenther


What is the meaning of critique for critical phenomenology? Building on Gayle Salamon’s engagement with this question in the inaugural issue of Puncta: A Journal for Critical Phenomenology (2018), I will propose a six-fold account of critique as: 1) the art of asking questions, moved by crisis; 2) a transcendental inquiry into the conditions of possibility for meaningful experience; 3) a quasi-transcendental, historically-grounded study of particular lifeworlds; 4) a (situated and interested) analysis of power; 5) the problematization of basic concepts and methods; and 6) a praxis of freedom that seeks not only to interpret the meaning of lived experience, but also to change the conditions under which horizons of possibility for meaning, action, and relationship are wrongfully limited or foreclosed. While the first two dimensions of critique are alive and well in classical phenomenology, the others help to articulate what is distinctive about critical phenomenology.

Peer review process: Guest edited


critique; phenomenology; critical phenomenology; epoche; freedom


Ahmed, Sara. 2006. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham, NC: Duke

University Press.

Allen, Amy. 2016. The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical

Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.

Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Boggs, Abigail, Eli Meyerhoff, Nick Mitchell, and Zach Schwartz-Weinstein. 2019.

“Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation” https://abolitionjournal.


Brown, Wendy. 2005. Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

de Beauvoir, Simone. 1964. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New

York: The Citadel Press.

Desjarlais, Robert. 2005. “Movement, Stillness: On the Sensory World of a Shelter for the

‘Homeless Mentally Ill,’” in Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader, edited by

David Howes, 369-79. Oxford: Berg.

Dodd, James. 2016. “Deep History: Reflections on the Archive and the Lifeworld.” Continental Philosophy Review 49 (1):29–39.

Fanon, Frantz. 1965. A Dying Colonialism. Translated by Haakon Chevalier. London: Penguin


———. 1986. Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Charles Lam Markmann. Forewords

by Ziauddin Sardar and Homi K. Bhabha. London: Pluto Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. Translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon.

———. 1988. “Practicing Criticism,” in Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other

Writings 1977-1984. Edited by Lawrence D. Kritzman. Translated by Alan Sheridan and others, New York.

———. 1994a. “Polemics, Politics, and Problematizations,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth,

edited by Paul Rabinow, 381-90. New York: The New Press.

———. 1994b. “The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom,” in Ethics:

Subjectivity and Truth, edited by Paul Rabinow, 281-302. New York: The New Press.

———. 2002. “What Is Critique?” in The Political. Edited by David Ingram, 191-211.

Oxford: Blackwell.

Gilson, Erinn Cunniff. 2014. “Ethics and the Ontology of Freedom: Problematization and

Responsiveness in Foucault and Deleuze,” Foucault Studies 17: 76‐98.

Gordon, Lewis. 1995. Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism. New York: Humanity Books.

Harney, Stefano and Moten, Fred. 2004. “The University and the Undercommons: Seven

Theses,” Social Text 22 (2): 101-15.

Hartman, Saidiya. 2019. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Horkheimer, Max. 2002. Critical Theory. Translated by Matther J. O’Connell. New York:


Husserl, Edmond. 1970. The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology:

An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy. Translated by David Carr. Evanston, IL:

Northwestern University Press.

Kant, Immanuel. 2008. Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by J. H. Bernard. New York:

Haffner Press.

Koopman, Colin. 2010. “Historical Critique or Transcendental Critique in Foucault: Two

Kantian Lineages.” Foucault Studies 8: 100-21.

———. 2012. Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Kramer, Sina. 2014. “Derrida’s “Antigonanette”: On the Quasi-Transcendental.” The

Southern Journal of Philosophy 52(4): 521-51.

Marder, Michael. 2014. Phenomena-critique-logos: The Project of Critical Phenomenology.

London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Mattingly, Cheryl. 2019. “Defrosting Concepts, Destabilizing Doxa: Critical Phenomenology

and The Perplexing Particular.” Anthropological Theory 19(4): 415–39.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1962. Phenomenology of Perception. Translated by Colin Smith.

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Moten, Fred. 2018. The Universal Machine. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Oksala, Johanna. 2016. Feminist Experiences: Foucauldian and Phenomenological Investigations. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Salamon, Gayle. 2010. Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. New York: Columbia University Press.

———. 2018. “What’s Critical about Critical Phenomenology?” Puncta: Journal of Critical

Phenomenology 1(1): 8-17.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. 2004. Critique of Dialectical Reason. Translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith.

London: Verso.

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake (with Eve Tuck). 2016. “Indigenous Resurgence and Co-

resistance.” Critical Ethnic Studies 2(2): 19-34.

Vuong, Ocean. 2017. “Ocean Vuong on being generous in your work.” Accessed on 06/01/20 a t


Young, Iris Marion. 1990. Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

———. 2011. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Zigon, Jarrett. 2018. Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding. New York: Fordham University Press.

Zurn, Perry. 2021. Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry. Minneapolis: University of

Minnesota Press.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Lisa Guenther

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.