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This is the first draft of the max. 300 word abstract for my project, a condensed version of my previous post. This abstract is chiefly aimed at grabbing the interest of the general humanities committee and at presenting the main topics, authors and questions.

Philosophy as Science

On 14 July 1866 Brentano stepped up to the pulpit to defend his thesis that the true method of philosophy is none other than that of natural science. This thesis rallied his students to his flag and became the north star of his school. How are we to understand philosophy as science in the School of Brentano?

Although philosophy would use the method of natural science, in Brentano’s view its main domain was not nature, but consciousness. To distinguish natural and mental phenomena Brentano re-introduced the concept of intentionality in philosophy. Brentano defined his psychology as a descriptive science: empirical, but not experimental; subjective, but not introspective: a full-blooded science of the mind that does not require a reduction to the brain in order to be scientific. At the same time, amidst the revolution of mathematical logic, Brentano pursued a reform of Aristotelian syllogistics. Brentano himself appears as a veritable platypus in any philosophical taxonomy: impossible to pigeonhole in any other tradition than his own. While his preoccupation with the question “what makes philosophy science?” marks him as a typical 19th century philosopher, his method and results make him anything but. Though he published little, his teachings had a lasting and pervasive influence. His students Stumpf, Marty, Meinong, Von Ehrenfels, Husserl and Twardowski spread his theories far and wide, founding Gestalt psychology, Prague linguistics, phenomenology and Polish logic. How are we to understand the relation between empirical and formal sciences in the School of Brentano? What is the relation between logic and psychology and how do these contribute to the idea of philosophy as science in the School of Brentano in the context of the 19th century? What was the lasting legacy of their ideal of philosophy as science?

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