In Rens Bod, Jaap Maat & Thijs Weststeijn (eds.), The Making of the Humanities. Volume III: The Making of the Modern Humanities. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 543-554 (2014)

Carlo Ierna
Radboud University Nijmegen
On July 14, 1866 Franz Brentano stepped up to the pulpit to defend his thesis that “the true method of philosophy is none other than that of the natural sciences”. This thesis bound his first students to him and became the north star of his school, against the complex background of the progress and specialization of the natural sciences as well as the growth and professionalization of universities. I will discuss the project of the renewal of philosophy as science in the School of Brentano and how this aimed to provide a scientific foundation for the humanities independently from the natural sciences, while preserving the unity of science. Through his well-known re-introduction of the concept of intentionality as criterion to distinguish internal and external perception, Brentano was able to supply an empirical foundation for the Geisteswissenschaften. While philosophy would use the method of natural science, its domain would not be nature, but consciousness: a full-blooded science of the mind that did not require a reduction to the physical in order to be scientific. Brentano’s science of consciousness was empirical, but not experimental, and relied on subjective methods, but was not introspective. Brentano’s students Carl Stumpf, Anton Marty, Alexius Meinong, Christian von Ehrenfels, Edmund Husserl and others came to occupy important chairs in philosophy throughout Europe. While they were certainly not all orthodox followers, they adapted and spread his theories far and wide in the schools and movements they founded and influenced: Gestalt psychology, Prague linguistics, phenomenology, etc.. Moreover, the 19th century idea of scientific research as a collaborative and collective achievement led to a division of labor in Brentano’s school. Each of his students was meant to work out a part of the greater whole: Stumpf, the philosophy of sound and music; Marty, language; Meinong the history of philosophy; Husserl, mathematics; etc. Yet all of them also contributed to the shared project of the renewal of philosophy as science and discussed the (foundational) relation of philosophy to other sciences in programmatic works. Though often forgotten and overlooked due to contingent historical circumstances, the scientific paradigm of the School of Brentano was very fruitful and highly influential in philosophy and the human sciences in general, throughout the second half of the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Yet it is relevant then as now to preserve the independent scientific dignity of the humanities.
Keywords Franz Brentano  School of Brentano  History of philosophy  History and philosophy of science  History and philosophy of the humanities
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,916
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Function of General Laws in History.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.
‘Style’ for Historians and Philosophers.Ian Hacking - 1991 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 23 (1):1-20.
The Conflict of the Faculties =.Immanuel Kant - 1979 - University of Nebraska Press.

View all 46 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Philosophy of Brentano.Linda L. McAlister (ed.) - 1976 - Humanities Press.
Descriptive Psychology.Franz Brentano - 1982/1995 - Routledge.
Brentano and Mathematics.Carlo Ierna - 2011 - Revue Roumaine de Philosophie 55 (1):149-167.
Themes From Brentano. [REVIEW]Wolfgang Huemer - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (2):391-393.
Schema of the Brentano School Intellectual Progeny.Arnaud Dewalque - 2013 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (3):445-445.
Franz Brentano on the Ontology of Mind.Kevin Mulligan & Barry Smith - 1985 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45 (4):627-644.


Added to PP index

Total views
30 ( #378,201 of 2,497,789 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #428,370 of 2,497,789 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes