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Organization of Phenomenological Organizations (www.o-p-o.net):

Letter from Lester Embree:

Dear Colleague, December 3, 2003

This email follows up on the one about a book list sent out on November 3, 2003. Let me clarify the project, summarize what we have already achieved, and ask for more help.

The goal is a list of the best books in and on phenomenology; the list will be available at the website of the Organization of Phenomenological Organizations (www.o-p-o.net). Of course, we would be pleased if the list helped libraries build their collections, and perhaps colleagues will make recommendations to libraries on the basis of this list, but O.P.O. will not go to the trouble of sending it to libraries.

Although the list was initially termed a "core list," some American colleagues found the phrase "core list" misleading and suggested the title "Notable Books in Phenomenology," which I like. Does anybody see any disadvantages to using this alternative title?

As a means to the end of developing a better list, a preliminary list of 135 book titles was sent out to the leaders or contact persons of the 110 phenomenological organizations we have been able to identify. (We are, of course, always interested in hearing about phenomenological organizations we are not yet aware of.) The persons addressed were asked to forward the email to the members of their organizations.

In other words, we are not asking organizations to collect sets of titles for the list. Rather, we are asking all interested individual phenomenologists to look the preliminary list over and then send more titles of additional books that are of comparable quality. In this way, we hope to include the recommendations of as many phenomenologists across the planet as possible.

Some colleagues have raised the question of the criteria for including books on the list. First of all, let me say that no group of judges has been or will be established to make final selections. Rather, we are depending on the professional judgment of the individual phenomenologists who send the book titles. More specifically, we will rely on the judgment of individual phenomenologists to recognize the "top books" or the "first class books" in and on phenomenology. Perhaps not everything on the list we generate will be accepted as first class by each and every phenomenologist, but it seems better to be excessively inclusive than to be excessively exclusive.

Again, let me emphasize again that the preliminary list of 135 book titles is just that, preliminary. Some colleagues have already written that they found the preliminary list quite informative. When the list is improved, it should be even more informative. We can easily and happily accommodate 100 or additional titles or even more than that. (But we are, of course, not interested in textbooks and anthologies.)

Thus far, we have received nearly four dozen (!) additional titles of books by Binswanger, Casey, Dallmayr, Gendlin, Harries, Heidegger, Henry, von Hildebrand, Holenstein, Ihde, Ingarden, Kohak, Landgrebe, Levin, Levinas, Marion, Merleau-Ponty, Natanson, Perez-Gomez, Richir, Ricoeur, Scheler, Sokolowski, Spiegelberg, Straus, Sundara Rajan, Thevanaz, Tran-duc-Thao, and Waldenfels.(So as not to delay this follow-up email, these additional titles have not been added to the original preliminary list of 135 that is again attached.)

We are already adding Portuguese and Spanish translations of books already listed, and encourage everyone to send in further information on translations. For example, we would be grateful for lists of translations of Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, etc. into French. In addition, if you are aware of any translations of the new titles you suggest, please also send the information about these translations. And for titles of books not in English, French, German, or Spanish, we ask not only that you give the title in transliteration if necessary, but also that you add a literal translation or paraphrase of the title in English, French, German, or Spanish. It seems that we can print all major scripts used on Earth these days, so do not hesitate to send us titles in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, etc.

Let me also emphasize that because work in phenomenology has historically been concentrated in certain regions of the world and in certain areas of inquiry, we are especially interested in

(1) phenomenological books from (a) Asia, (b) Central and Eastern Europe, and (c) Latin America; and

(2) phenomenological books from disciplines beyond philosophy, e.g., phenomenological sociology, phenomenological psychiatry, etc.

Finally, since the preliminary list only considered phenomenological literature through 1993, we are also interested in more recent first class books comparable in quality to those included in the initial list.

Permit me to repeat my requests:

(1) I ask the leaders or representatives of the phenomenological organizations who receive the present email to forward it to all members of their organizations;

(2) I ask all individual phenomenologists who then receive the present email (a) to review the attached list and (b) to send me titles of what you consider first class books that are not yet on the list (my email address is embree@fau.edu).

Thank you,


Click here to download the bibliography (pdf)

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