This is the third (and hopefully almost final) draft of the 300 word abstract for my VENI research project. The goal is to grab the interest of the general humanities committee and to introduce the main topics, authors and questions. Any and all comments and critique are welcome, from philosophers and non-philosophers alike!
Philosophy as Science
What makes science science? What would make philosophy science? These questions dominated 19th century philosophy and determined the structure of academia as we know it today, in particular in conceptualizing the contrast between human and natural sciences. One of the most radical and influential proponents of the idea of philosophy as science was Franz Brentano. My research project aims at a reinterpretation of the ideal of philosophy as science in the School of Brentano in the context of nineteenth century German philosophy.
On July 14, 1866 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 became the north star of his school. Brentano considered the mind as the main field for philosophy, a descriptive science of consciousness that would be empirical, but not experimental, and subjective, but not introspective.
Brentano’s students Stumpf, Marty, Meinong, Von Ehrenfels, Husserl and Twardowski, put his ideal of philosophy as science in practice in the schools and movements they founded and influenced: Gestalt psychology, Prague linguistics, object-theory, phenomenology and Polish logic. The diversity and success of their individual endeavors eclipsed their unity as a school, leading to distorting interpretations of Brentano as a mere precursor. My research project will investigate and reveal their shared project of elaborating philosophy as science.
Contrary to current mainstream interpretations, which dismiss any psychological foundation of science as “psychologistic”, I will avoid such pigeonholing. In the 19th century, foundational issues were debated in a manner that cut across disciplinary sub-divisions, and that in turn contributed to consolidate these divisions, distorting most retrospective interpretations. I will show how the School of Brentano, as a veritable platypus, successfully combined logical and psychological approaches in founding the ideal of philosophy as science.
Hallo Carlo, I really like this one. As you can recall I’m a student from México. I pertain to a group of phenomenologists, the so called “Seminary of Basic Studies on Trascendental Phenomenology”. We’re very interested in Brentano, and we will studie him as part of our next year program, which deals around the questions: “What is philosophy? and What is phenomenology?”. I invite you to see our Blog: http://www.sebft.wordpress.com The only problem is that, for the moment, is all in spanish. Also, I will put a link on our Blog to your site, for my colleagues get to know your actual project. I hope this will serve the ideal of community I think is always a present part in the idea of philosophy as science. Grüsse. Jethro.
Carlo Ierna said:
Hi Jethro, and sorry for the late reply. I’ve been pretty busy the past week to wrap up everything before the deadline on 5 January. I’ll update the blog soon.
Thanks for your comment and your invitation! Unfortunately, I fear that my spanish isn’t good enough to participate in a group discussion. Whether or not my project will be approved, I’ll keep blogging here on Brentano, Husserl and the project of philosophy as science. I hope this will eventually lead to the growth of a community around this ideal. Best, Carlo
Hey Carlo, I wish you the best this year for your projects (I’ve read the last post, and I believe it’s good to know what will you be doing this year). On other matters, I’ve today obtained a copy of your two articles on the “New Yearbook”. We’re rewriting the spanish page dedicated to Husserl on Wikipedia, because it’s very bad in its actual state. I will contribute to the early Husserl by studying and quoting your work. That will be fun! We’re restarting our Seminary, and we will read Brentano’s “The reasons for the discouragement in philosophy” (I don’t have in hand the Deutsch original or even the english translation), as part of the guiding questions: “What is philosophy?” and, “What is phenomenology?”. Any suggestions on Brentano or the subject itself will be very welcome.
Carlo Ierna said:
Hi Jethro, I’m glad that you can put my work to good use! If you’d like any other of my publications, feel free to e-mail me and I’ll send them to you.
Regarding the question on the nature of philosophy in Brentano, “On Schelling’s Philosophy” and on “The Four Phases of Philosophy” might be interesting to look at, as well as his habilitaiton theses. Regarding phenomenology, it depends. If you mean Husserlian phenomenology, a selection from the Ideas I (esp. second section) would probably be most appropriate, otherwise the “Five Lectures on the Idea of Phenomenology” or “Philosophy as Strict Science” might serve. Have a great Seminary!