Owning an Older, No-Longer-New, Used Car


  • Rodney Evans Independent Scholar




In his highly insightful and wide-ranging rebuttal article “Doing Phenomenology on the Things,” van Manen makes the important claim that “the mission of modern phenomenology transcends foundational and exegetical philosophical theorizing” (2019, p. 3). I take this claim seriously and put forward this article as an exercise in practical lifeworld phenomenological reflection. By lifeworld I refer to the environing world in which we are enmeshed and in which we live and breathe and have our being; it penetrates our awareness of things while at the same time offering the possibility of reprieve from complete enmeshment (submergence) in the form of existential reflection on the things, events, doings, goings-on, etc., that collectively constitute the phenomenological concept of world. By phenomenological reflection I refer to written analyses (texts) that approach mundane lifeworld phenomena in a manner or style that seeks to show or reveal aspects of the lifeworld that in the ordinary course of everyday life remain hidden from view…aspects of the lifeworld that while they may be glimpsed fleetingly from time to time, remain largely hidden, i.e. in a state of unrealized concealment. The article thus takes seriously the Husserlian call for a return “to the things themselves.” And while the ostensible topic is an old (or older) used car, the defacto topic is “us,” or perhaps better stated, the actual topic arises at the meeting place where the “us” (as subject) and “an older car” (as object) arrive and conjoin. It is at the place of this meeting between self and world that the phenomenological analysis can begin. The article emphasizes the practical import of this meeting, this engagement—it is not regarded as a matter of purely abstract philosophical theorizing nor as a purely descriptive (empirical) matter, although it is also that in part too.