Phenomenology is the study of how we perceive the world; thus, how we perceive the phenomena in the world. If each of us perceives the world a bit differently, since we are all subjective, the goal of phenomenology is to understand the structure and processes of consciousness in order to make more objective, generalized theories of how we all perceive the world.
Phenomenology supposes that consciousness has intentionality or “aboutness.” This means that consciousness is about something. So, if consciousness is about a tree, the tree is the intentional object and the tree is constituted (which is the phenomenologist’s way of saying we perceive) via different methods: perception, memory. Phenomenology is the study of how we experience the world, so it is not about things, but about how we apprehend things.
The first main figure in phenomenology is Husserl, who claimed that consciousness is not in the mind, but it is about the object. So, consciousness is a kind of reaching out to experience things. Rather than conscious experience occurring only in the mind, the phenomenologist believes conscious experience occurs between the mind and the world; an INTERACTION.
Think of conscious experience as an arrow directed outwardly from yourself. Things you experience are your intentional objects. You recognize other subjects (people) as objects and subjects who, like you, are perceiver. Phenomenologists call this empathy.
Likewise, you recognize your own body as a subject, your ‘self” as well as an object. If you touch your right hand with your left, your are touching an object and being touched by a subject.