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.