Phenomenology through Design: A Tale of a Human Tail: Accepted paper for workshop "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Exploring the Intersection of Philosophy and HCI"

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Most current research in the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and philosophy consist of HCI researchers using concepts and theoretical frameworks from philosophy as lenses for interpreting and reflecting on technology and its use. This has given valuable new insights to the
field, and allowed for a critical stance on important issues. In this paper, I argue for another potential synergy between HCI and philosophy, by adopting and adapting philosophy’s method of inquiry as research method in HCI. The aim of the Human Tail Project was to investigate how the body extends itself through technology. I adopted a phenomenological research method, and added
the construction of bodily extensions to the phenomenological process of “bracketing” (epoché). By “making my body strange” with a mechanical tail and reflecting on the experience of use, I acquired new insights into “my familiar body” and Merleau-Ponty’s concept of the lived body. The phenomenological research method brought an almost child-like spirit of curiosity and wonder to the research process. Philosophical methods of inquiry thus have the potential to spur more explorative HCI research, in pursuit of the “unknown unknowns” of the human-technology relation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date8 May 2019
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2019
EventACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Weaving the Threads of CHI - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019


ConferenceACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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ID: 84884259