Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint I. There are certain phenomena which once seemed familiar and obvious and appeared to provide an explanation for things which had been obscure. Subsequently, however, these phenomena began to seem quite mysterious themselves and began to arouse astonishment and curiosity. These phenomena, above all others, were zealously investigated by the great thinkers of antiquity. Yet little agreement or clarity has been reached concerning them to this day. It is these phenomena which I have made my object of study.

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Life and Work Franz Brentano was born on January 16, in Marienberg am Rhein, Germany, a descendent of a strongly religious German-Italian family of intellectuals his uncle Clemens Brentano and his aunt Bettina von Arnim were among the most important writers of German Romanticism and his brother Lujo Brentano became a leading expert in social economics.

Already at high school he became acquainted with Scholasticism; at university he studied Aristotle with Trendelenburg in Berlin, and read Comte as well as the British Empiricists mainly John Stuart Mill , all of whom had a great influence on his work.

Brentano received his Ph. After graduation Brentano prepared to take his vows; he was ordained a Catholic priest in Despite reservations in the faculty about his priesthood he eventually became full professor in During this period, however, Brentano struggled more and more with the official doctrine of the Catholic Church, especially with the dogma of papal infallibility, promulgated at the first Vatican Council in After his Habilitation, Brentano had started to work on a large scale work on the foundations of psychology, which he entitled Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint.

The first volume was published in , a second volume The Classification of Mental Phenomena followed in , and fragments of the third volume Sensory and Noetic Consciousness were published posthumously by Oskar Kraus in Shortly after the publication of the first volume, Brentano took a job as a full professor at the University of Vienna, where he continued a successful teaching career.

During his tenure in Vienna, Brentano, who was very critical towards his own writing, did not pursue his plans to complete and publish the second and third volumes of his Psychology, but preferred to publish shorter texts, most of which were based on manuscripts for public lectures. When in Brentano and Ida von Lieben decided to wed, they had to confront the fact that the prevailing law in the Austro-Hungarian Empire denied matrimony to persons who had been ordained priests — even if they later had resigned from priesthood.

They surmounted this obstacle by temporarily moving to and becoming citizens of Saxony, where they finally got married. This was possible only by temporarily giving up the Austrian citizenship and, in consequence, the job as full professor at the University. When Brentano came back to Vienna a few months later, the Austrian authorities did not reassign him his position.

Brentano became Privatdozent, a status that allowed him to go on teaching — but did not entitle him to receive a salary or to supervise theses. For several years he tried in vain to get his position back. In he settled down in Florence where he got married to Emilie Ruprecht in Brentano has often been described as an extraordinarily charismatic teacher.

Throughout his life he influenced a great number of students, many of who became important philosophers and psychologists in their own rights, such as Edmund Husserl, Alexius Meinong, Christian von Ehrenfels, Anton Marty, Carl Stumpf, Kasimir Twardowski, as well as Sigmund Freud.

Many of his students became professors in different parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Marty and Ehrenfels in Prague, Meinong in Graz, and Twardowski in Lvov now Lviv , and so spread Brentanianism over the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire, which explains the central role of Brentano in the philosophical development in central Europe, especially in what was later called the Austrian Tradition in philosophy. Brentano always emphasized that he meant to teach his students to think critically and in a scientific manner, without holding prejudices and paying undue respect to philosophical schools or traditions.

When former students of his took a critical approach to his own work, however, when they criticized some of his doctrines and modified others to adapt them for their own goals, Brentano reacted bitterly. He often refused to discuss criticism, ignored improvements, and thus became more and more isolated, a development that was reinforced by his increasing blindness.

Due to these eye-problems Brentano could not read or write any longer, but had his wife read to him and dictated his work to her. Nonetheless, he produced a number of books in his years in Florence. In he published Untersuchungen zur Sinnespsychologie, a collection of shorter texts on psychology. When Italy entered war against Germany and Austria during World War I, Brentano, who felt himself a citizen of all three countries, moved from Florence to neutral Switzerland. He passed away in Zurich on March 17, Their attempt to set up a Brentano-archive was supported by Tomas Masaryk, a former student of Brentano who had become founder and first President from to of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.

As a result, in many of the original manuscripts were moved to Prague where an archive was founded. Alas, due to the political turbulences that were to came over central Europe the project made it necessary to transfer the archive again.

Substantial parts of the Nachlass were transferred to different places in the United States, some of it has later been brought back to Europe, especially to the Brentano-Forschungsstelle at the University of Graz, Austria, and the Brentano family archive in Blonay, Switzerland. Binder Kastil and Kraus did succeed, however, to begin to publish posthumously some of the lecture notes, letters, and drafts he had left. According to Brentano, philosophy—and in particular philosophical psychology—should apply a method that is based on observation, description of facts, and induction; just like the other natural sciences.

One has to be cautious not to overstate this point, though. He never suggested that all scientific disciplines could be reduced to other, more basic disciplines, nor did he argue that all natural sciences should apply exactly the same method, nor that mathematization or the use of a formal language was indispensable for scientificity. For Brentano, a method counts as scientific as long as it fulfills the minimal requirements of applying observation, description of facts, and induction.

LW, Also there he argued that the right procedure consisted in observing and describing the relevant phenomena and establishing the general laws on the basis of induction. The psychologist draws on the intimate knowledge concerning her own current mental phenomena that she gains through inner perception which, as we shall see below, is to be distinguished from inner observation.

Brentano does not suggest, however, that these descriptions are infallible: as it is impossible to live and describe a particular experience at the same time, all descriptions of mental phenomena have to rely on memory and inner observation. And we really can focus our attention on a past mental phenomenon just as we can upon a present physical phenomenon, and in this way we can, so to speak, observe it.

This should not obscure the fact that Brentano did play a crucial role in the process of psychology becoming an independent science. He distinguished between genetic and empirical or, as he called it, descriptive psychology, a distinction that is most explicitly drawn in lecture notes form the mids that have been published in Descriptive Psychology DP. Genetic psychology studies psychological phenomena from a third-person point of view.

It involves the use of experiments and thus satisfies the scientific standards we nowadays expect of an empirical science. Even though Brentano never conducted psychological experiments in laboratories, he very actively supported the installation of the first laboratories for experimental psychology in the Austro-Hungarian Empire — a goal that was achieved by his student Alexius Meinong in Graz. DP aims at describing consciousness from a first-person point of view.

In order to give flesh to this definition of the discipline, he provides a more detailed characterization of mental phenomena. He proposes six criteria to distinguish mental from physical phenomena PES 61—77 , the most important of which are: i mental phenomena are the exclusive object of inner perception, ii they always appear as a unity, and iii they are always intentionally directed towards an object.

The other three criteria are: psychological phenomena — and only those — are presentations or phenomena based upon presentations; they seem to have no spatial extension; and have not only intentional, but also actual existence. I will discuss the first two criteria in the next sub-section, and the third in a separate sub-section below.

According to Brentano, the former of these two forms of perception provides an unmistakable evidence for what is true. He points out that inner perception must not be mixed up with inner observation, which would require that one is having a mental act, the act of observing, that is directed towards another mental act, the act observed.

Inner perception, on the other hand, must not be conceived as a full-fledged act that accompanies another mental act towards which it is directed. It is rather interwoven with the latter: in addition to being primarily directed towards an object, every mental act is incidentally directed towards itself as a secondary object.

When I see a tree, for example, the primary object of my visual experience is the tree. But I am also aware that I am seeing and not, say, hearing or touching the tree; I am, in other words, aware of the fact that I have a mental phenomenon that is directed towards the tree.

This is possible because one and the same mental phenomenon, my visual experience, is directed not only towards its primary object, the tree, it is incidentally directed also towards itself as a secondary object. In the same mental phenomenon in which the sound is present to our minds we simultaneously apprehend the mental phenomenon itself.

What is more, we apprehend it in accordance with its dual nature insofar as it has the sound as content within it, and insofar as it has itself as content at the same time. As a consequence, Brentano denies the idea that there could be unconscious mental acts: since every mental act is incidentally directed towards itself as a secondary object, we are automatically aware of every occurring mental act.

He admits, however, that we can have mental acts of various degrees of intensity. In addition, he holds that the degree of intensity with which the object is presented is equal to the degree of intensity in which the secondary object, i.

Consequently, if we have a mental act of a very low intensity, our inner perception of the act or, as he puts it, our secondary consciousness of it will also have a very low intensity. From this Brentano concludes that sometimes we are inclined to say that we had an unconscious mental phenomenon when actually we had a conscious mental phenomenon of very low intensity. Consciousness, Brentano argues, always forms a unity.

While we can perceive a number of physical phenomena at one and the same time, we can only perceive one mental phenomenon at a specific point in time. If one of the divisives ends in the course of time, e. Of course it is possible to remember another mental act one had a moment ago, or expect future mental acts, but due to the unity of consciousness one cannot have two distinct mental acts, one of which being directed towards the other, at the same time.

The fact that we can be directed towards one and the same object in different ways allows Brentano to introduce a classification of mental phenomena. These are not three completely distinct classes, though. Presentations are the most basic kind of acts; we have a presentation each time when we are directed towards an object, be it that we are imagining, seeing, remembering, or expecting it, etc. In his Psychology Brentano held that two presentations can differ only in the object, towards which they are directed.

Later he modified his position, though, and argued that they can also differ in various modes, such as temporal modes cf. PES, vol II, ]. The two other categories, judgments and phenomena of love and hate, are based on presentations. In a judgment we accept or deny the existence of the presented object. A judgment, thus, is a presentation plus a qualitative mode of acceptance or denial.

In these acts we have positive or negative feelings or attitudes towards an object. The fact that he saw himself constrained to make minor adjustments shows that Brentano did approach philosophy in a very systematic manner and always had the bigger picture in mind.

Moreover, his conception of secondary consciousness, in combination with this thesis of the unity of consciousness have had a strong echo in the philosophy of mind, in particular in the recent debate concerning the nature of consciousness. This interpretation, however, does not pay due attention to the fact that according to Brentano, inner perception is not a self-standing mental phenomenon of a higher level, but rather a structural moment of every mental phenomenon.

Moreover, with his unity of consciousness thesis Brentano explicitly rejects the basic assumption of all higher-order perception theories of consciousness, i. Thomasson or self-representational approaches cf. Its main content is the normal content commonly attributed to mental representations. Moreover, Kriegel suggests that for Brentano this self-representational aspect is a necessary condition for having a presentation Kriegel Other interprets have taken more cautious lines.

Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself The passage clearly suggests, however, that the intentional object towards which we are directed is part of the psychological act.

It is something mental rather than physical. Some Brentano scholars have recently argued that this immanent reading of the intentionality thesis is too strong. In the light of other texts by Brentano from the same period they argue that he distinguishes between intentional correlate and object, and that the existence of the latter does not depend on our being directed towards it. Next to the real, physical object, which is perceived, remembered, thought of, etc.

Thus, when I think about the city of Paris, I am actually thinking of a mental object that is part of my act of thinking, and not about the actual city. This view leads to obvious difficulties, the most disastrous of which is that two persons can never be directed towards one and the same object. If we try to resolve the problem by taking the intentional object to be identical with the real object, on the other hand, we face the difficulty of explaining how we can have mental phenomena that are directed towards non-existing objects such as Hamlet, the golden mountain, or a round square.

Like my thinking about the city of Paris, all these acts are intentionally directed towards an object, with the difference, however, that their objects do not really exist.


Franz Brentano

Life and Work Franz Brentano was born on January 16, in Marienberg am Rhein, Germany, a descendent of a strongly religious German-Italian family of intellectuals his uncle Clemens Brentano and his aunt Bettina von Arnim were among the most important writers of German Romanticism and his brother Lujo Brentano became a leading expert in social economics. Already at high school he became acquainted with Scholasticism; at university he studied Aristotle with Trendelenburg in Berlin, and read Comte as well as the British Empiricists mainly John Stuart Mill , all of whom had a great influence on his work. Brentano received his Ph. After graduation Brentano prepared to take his vows; he was ordained a Catholic priest in


Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint Essay

Learn how and when to remove this template message Brentano has a theory of judgment which is different from what is currently the predominant Fregean view. Even stronger: Brentano thought that predication is not even necessary for judgment, because there are judgments without a predicational content. Another fundamental aspect of his theory is that judgments are always existential. Note that Brentano denied the idea that all judgments are of the form: S is P [and all other kinds of judgment which combine presentations]. Brentano argued that there are also judgments arising from a single presentation, e.


Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint




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