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Phenomenology is a school of philosophy based on the work of the 20th
century philosopher Edmund Husserl.
Husserl is best known for his extensive use of the the notion that that the
main characteristic of consciousness is that it is always intentional, i.e.
directed at some kind of content ("Inhalt"): consciousness is always
"consciousness of something." He borrowed the concept of the intentional
from Brentano, as can be seen from the latter's Psychologie vom empirischen
Standpunkt (Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint). Further, he asserted
that studying the flow of consciousness as directed (the act of noesis) at
the perceived phenomena (the noemata) yields knowledge of essential
structures in reality.
In the last period of his life, Husserl shifted to a more explicitly
idealist position, which is best expressed in his Cartesian Meditations
(1931). His main work, however, remains Logische Untersuchungen (Logical
Investigations; first edition, 1900-1901).