Who is Franz Brentano?June 25, 2021
Franz Brentano is a German philosopher and psychologist who has taught many famous names, including Edmund Husserl and Sigmund Freud, at the universities of Würzburg and Vienna.
Franz Brentano, who came to the forefront with the theory of “intentionalität”, which is accepted as the basis of the phenomenology established by Husserl in philosophy, is also known for his theory of “descriptive psychology”, which is based on the distinction he made between the psychological phenomenon and the physical phenomenon on the basis of intentionality.
Brentano’s theory of “intentionality” is based on the concept of “target existence” of Scholastic philosophy. Brentano took this concept and reconceptualized it as “immanent intentionality”. Brentano, in his masterpiece Psychology from the Experimental Perspective (Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, 1874), argues that intentionality is the mental manifestation of thought, and that every psychological experience contains an object to which thought is directed, also called an “intentional object”: in the case of desire, something is desired; When it comes to thought, it means a thought.
According to the immanent intentionality theory, this thing, that is, what is desired or thought, is directly involved in the experience of desiring or thinking as a psychological experience; in other words, it is ‘inherent’ to these experiences. Brentano argues that psychological intentionality is what distinguishes mental states from physical states, since this does not apply to physical phenomena but only to mental ones. According to him, “phenomenon” does not consist of physical objects, but refers to things given to the mind. That is, the distinction that Brentano makes is not about entities existing in the world, but about unknown objects: he calls those which show intentionality among these objects as mental phenomena, and those who do not as physical phenomena. That is why he calls the theory of psychology in his teaching “descriptive psychology”. Accordingly, every conscious experience includes an object; every experience of consciousness is “consciousness of something”; all consciousness is “intentional”.
The distinction that Brentano began to make towards the end of the 1880s between “genetic psychology” as an empiricist and probabilistic a posteriori science, and “descriptive psychology”, an a priori philosophical discipline, which he himself sometimes calls “phenomenology”. It directly affected the phenomenological thought movement of the 20th century. As a matter of fact, the main subject of the phenomenology that Husserl set to fill the gaps in the philosophy of his teacher, Brentano, whose thoughts he valued greatly, is “intentionality”. In other words, all of Husserl’s efforts in the name of phenomenology, which he tries to ground as an exact science, are aimed at clarifying the idea of intentionality. Based on the sentence of Husserl, “We understand intentionality through the peculiarity of experiences experienced as consciousness of something”, this definition of Brentano, who defines intentionality of consciousness as being intentional to a certain object, leaves the question of why the intentionality of something unanswered, and sees what the properties of consciousness that direct consciousness to an object are. attempts to analyze the issue in detail. According to Husserl’s understanding of intentionality, an object does not necessarily have to be in the middle to explain the intentionality of consciousness: it is a question of consciousness itself acting as a source for itself. Thus, the problem of non-object acts in Brentano’s philosophy is eliminated.