This is the second draft of the max. 300 word abstract for my project, mainly aimed at grabbing the interest of the general humanities committee and at presenting the main topics, authors and questions. All comments and critique very welcome!
Philosophy as Science
What makes science science? What would make philosophy science? These questions dominated 19th century philosophy and the ensuing debates determined the structure of academia as we know it today, in particular, the contrast between human and natural sciences. My research project will result in a new perspective on this richly textured argumentative landscape by ridding ourselves of overly broad and dismissive labels (e.g. “psychologism”) that hide the subtlety and nuance of these debates in current mainstream interpretations. It will consist in a comparative historical analysis focused on the best illustration of this situation, a veritable platypus in any philosophical taxonomy: Franz Brentano and his school. Their north star was the thesis that philosophy is a science and its true method none other than that of natural science. Nevertheless, its domain is not nature, but consciousness and Brentano defines his psychology as a descriptive science: empirical, but not experimental; subjective, but not introspective. What kind of science is philosophy and what is its relation with other sciences? Besides programmatic works concerning the foundation and architectonic of a system of the sciences (physical, psychical, and formal), in his school we also find in a microcosm the real arguments and practice that proceed from this. His students Stumpf, Marty, Meinong, Von Ehrenfels, Husserl and Twardowski, spread his teachings far and wide as founders of Gestalt psychology, Prague linguistics, object-theory, phenomenology and Polish logic. My research project aims to establish that their shared mission of elaborating a scientific philosophy fundamentally determined the development of these diverse disciplines. Brentano and his school have had a significant influence on present-day philosophy, but have never been studied from this novel unifying perspective.
Carlo, I find these draft good, but feel like a jump when you started with the subject matter of psychologism, because you were before talking of the debate, science-philosophy which determined the structure of the Academia. I find, in this sense, more natural the contextual introduction of Brentano rather than the reference to phsycologism. Also I’ve had some trouble understanding the precise sense of the paragraph which starts with “Besides programmatic…”, more specific, ¿what “proceeds from this”? Sorry if I did not grasp the meaning right away.
Greetings from México.
Carlo Ierna said:
Hi Jethro, thanks for your comments!
With the reference to “psychologism”, I wanted to indicate that some authors that participated in and shaped the debate are unjustly dismissed out of hand, because they are seen only as representatives of a very broadly defined orientation in philosophy. It would be anachronistic for us, after Frege’s and Husserl’s refutations of psychologism, to reject all previous thinkers pigeonholed as “psychologists” out of hand. The accusation of psychologism was used more or less by everyone against anyone at the time and is hence not very useful to classify or group the participants in the debate.
Regarding your second question, I wanted to make clear that the students of Brentano did not just have starry-eyed visions of an ideal science, but tried to apply their programmatic ideals in their research and teaching. They drew the practical consequences that proceed from Brentano’s program.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand my writing: this is actually very useful to me! You are showing me where the problems in my text are.