Toward the Rebirth of Aristotelian Psychology: Trendelenburg and Brentano

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Abstract

The chapter studies the concepts of the self, the soul and the subject as they were developed around the first half of the nineteenth century in German philosophy presiding over the birth of psychology as a science. The topic is addressed by examining particularly the leading roles that Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg and Franz Brentano played in this development. Both thinkers worked out an original conception of the soul through recourse to Aristotle’s theories of the soul, combining them with insight stemming from the modern tradition of the philosophy of subjectivity, particularly Kantianism. The first part of the chapter explicates Friedrich Trendelenburg’s argument, that psychology constitutes an independent discipline, and show how his arguments contributed to the general discussion about the status of psychology. The second part consists of an explication of Franz Brentano’s reinterpretation of the Aristotelian tradition and provides a critical comparison between his position and that of Trendelenburg. The main argument of the chapter is that Trendelenburg had an important mediating role in the post-Aristotelian tradition, which developed further and culminated in idealistic theories of subjectivity and self-consciousness.