Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy



First Advisor

Fritz Wenisch


This thesis is concerned with answering the following question: What is phenomenological realism? I have tried to accomplish this, in part, by looking at the history of phenomenological realism. However, it is not sufficient to look at the history of this movement if we are to understand what it is today. Thus, I have tried to present the reader with the attitude, methods, and the ontological and epistemological foundations of phenomenological realism, both in some of their early formulations and in their later, more refined forms. While many phenomenological realists differ with regards to certain issues, I think that there exists much agreement concerning these basic aspects of the philosophy.

I have tried to present these foundational aspects of phenomenological realism using the following outline. Chapter one concerns itself with phenomenological realism as a twentieth century philosophy. I mention the leading figures of this movement, both in the Munich and Goettingen Circles, and I use the works of Adolf Reinach and Dietrich von Hildebrand in order to demonstrate the attitude which is at the heart of this philosophy. I then proceed, in chapter two, to present the ways in which Plato ' s writings implicitly contain many of the notions which are vital to phenomenological realism. In chapter three I argue that the term ‘phenomenological realism’ does not accurately describe this philosophy and suggest that the term which Fritz Wenisch has proposed, ‘chreontic philosophy,’ more accurately describes this movement. I then present three examples of how the attitude and methods of chreontic philosophy have been used to uncover certain features of reality. Finally, I conclude with responses to three objections concerning insight and the existence of genuine essences.



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