About the project This project proposes a reconstruction of Franz Brentano’s (1838–1917) descriptive psychology research program (DPRP), as it was formulated in three lectures from the Vienna period: I: ‘Descriptive psychology’ (1887/88), II: ‘Descriptive psychology or descriptive phenomenology’ (1888/89) and III: ‘Psychognosy’ (1890/91). The project aims to show that, despite the apparent marginal concern with descriptive psychology – sometimes called ‘psychognosy’, ‘phenomenognosy’, or ‘phenomenology’ in works published during his lifetime, Brentano had a clear and well-developed conception of the theme as an investigation of the contents of our mental states; it was not developed as a prima philosophia, or as a system of philosophy, as it is often thought to be, but rather as a scientific research program of its own, which challenged other research programs of the time, such as Wundt’s physiological psychology or Fechner’s psychophysics.
Furthermore, this project will show that DPRP was a structuring element of the influence exerted by Brentano on some of his students, most prominently on Husserl, Meinong, and Stumpf. These students have been described as renegades (Abtrünnige) by a particular school of orthodoxy led by Marty and some of his students in Prague, who defended (with some deviations) some of the ideas of Brentano as doctrines. Investigating Husserl’s and Stumpf’s phenomenologies and Meinong’s theory of objects from the perspective of DPRP will show that these are authentic contributions to DPRP, despite their dissidences with the doctrines. Finally, the research project will evaluate the relevance of DPRP in relation to more recent research programs in philosophy of mind, thereby stressing its significance in the development of some central ideas in this field of research.
The editorial aspect of this research project will involve a transcription and edition of this set of three lectures, a translation into English, and the publication of the complete set, both in English and in German.