Philosophy as Science: The Project of the School of Brentano


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.
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 became the north star of his school. Brentano considered the mind as the main field for philosophy, a descriptive science of consciousness: empirical, but not experimental, and subjective, but not introspective. This engendered the misconception that Brentano wanted merely to establish psychology as a science, but his project was far more ambitious.

Only if we grasp the true scope of Brentano's project, we can understand the theoretical unity of his school. Brentano's students Stumpf, Marty, Meinong, Von Ehrenfels, Husserl and Twardowski, put his ideal in practice in the movements they founded and influenced: Gestalt psychology, Prague linguistics, phenomenology and Polish logic. Their diversity and success eclipsed the common origin of the underlying ideal and their unity as a school, acknowledging Brentano merely as precursor. My project will show that their shared mission of elaborating philosophy as science fundamentally determined the development of these diverse movements. Contrary to current mainstream interpretations, which dismiss any psychological foundation of science as "psychologistic", I will avoid such pigeonholing. Overly broad and dismissive labels hide the subtlety and nuance of the foundational debates in the 19th century, which cut across disciplinary sub-divisions. I will show how the ideal of philosophy as science enabled the School of Brentano to overcome the false dichotomy between logical and psychological foundationalism.


Hoofdstuk in boek

  • C Ierna, C.E. Niveleau(2014): Vers une philosophie scientifique pp. 51 - 69 , Paris
  • C Ierna, R. Bod, J. Maat, T. Weststeijn(2014): The Making of the Humanities pp. 543 - 554 , Amsterdam
  • C Ierna, D. Fisette, R. Martinelli(2015): Philosophy from an Empirical Standpoint pp. 151 - 172 , Amsterdam
  • E.N. Zalta, C Ierna, R.D. Rollinger(2015): The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy pp. nvt - nvt , Stanford
  • G.E. Rosado Haddock, C Ierna, D Lohmar(2016): Husserl and Analytic Philosophy pp. 289 - 319
  • G.E. Rosado Haddock, C Ierna(2016): Husserl and Analytic Philosophy pp. 119 - 141
  • M Wehrle, S Luft, C Ierna(2017): Husserl-Handbuch pp. 22 - 32
  • S Centrone, C Ierna(2017): Essays on Husserl's Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics pp. 147 - 168

Wetenschappelijk artikel

  • C Ierna(2013): Husserl?s Philosophy of Arithmetic in Reviews The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy pp. 198 - 242 ISSN: 1533-7472.
  • C Ierna(2013): Review of Stefania Centrone Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics in the Early Husserl Husserl-Studies pp. 251 - 253 ISSN: 0167-9848.
  • C Ierna(2014): Review of Burt C. Hopkins, The Origin of the Logic of Symbolic Mathematics: Edmund Husserl and Jacob Klein Philosophia Mathematica pp. 249 - 262
  • C Ierna(2015): A Letter from Edmund Husserl to Franz Brentano from 29 XII 1889 Husserl-Studies pp. 65 - 72 ISSN: 0167-9848.
  • C Ierna(2015): Improper Intentions of Ambiguous Objects: Sketching a New Approach to Brentano'?s Intentionality Brentano Studien pp. 55 - 80
  • C Ierna(2017): Die Gestalten und das Gestalten der Welt Meinong Studies pp. 53 - 68 ISSN: 2198-2309.
  • C Ierna(2017): Christian von Ehrenfels “Größenrelationen und Zahlen. Eine psychologische Studie”, and five letters from Ehrenfels to Meinong Meinong Studies pp. 185 - 185 ISSN: 2198-2309.
  • C Ierna(2017): On Ehrenfels’ Dissertation Meinong Studies pp. 163 - 184 ISSN: 2198-2309.


  • (2013): Philosophy as Science: The Project of the School of Brentano





Dr. C. Ierna

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Departement Wijsbegeerte


Dr. C. Ierna


01/10/2012 tot 30/09/2016