Monism and Particularism: Methodology in Brentano’s Psychology

Abstract

The paper argues that Brentano was the exponent of a methodological monism, which is based on the requirement that science should be grounded on experience, and not on a speculative-idealistic principle, as in the case of German idealism. In Brentano’s psychological writings, this methodological requirement concretized in two different theses: (T1) The method of psychology is identical with the method of natural science; (T2) The method of psychology is inspired by the method of natural science. The thesis of this study is that an important part of Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint is elaborated in accordance with T1. By contrast, Brentano’s Descriptive Psychology illustrates the subsequent decision to give up this idea. In its place, the aforementioned requirement is elaborated in the spirit of a methodological particularism that recommends the scientist elaborate his methods according to the specificity of the phenomena under investigation and to the difficulties that need to be overcome when approaching them.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Brentano (1929, 137). For the sake of convenience, the following abbreviations will be used: AC for the paper “Auguste Comte” (1869), PES for Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874a), GE for the lecture “Über die Gründe der Entmutigung auf philosophischem Gebiete” (1874b), and DP for Descriptive Psychology (1982).

  2. 2.

    Comte (1830, 94); PES, 23 f.

  3. 3.

    See, for instance, Haller (1988).

  4. 4.

    Ms. H 45: ‘Gesch. d. Phil. Einteilung der Wissenschaften’ (n. 25253) (apud Hedwig (1987), XIII).

  5. 5.

    See, in this respect, von Wright’s compelling analysis in Explanation and Understanding. Here Comte’s and Mill’s contributions to methodological monism are well emphasized, without any mention of Brentano’s contribution to the issue. However, Brentano holds the same thesis, while also explicitly aknowledging his being indebted to Comte and Mill.

  6. 6.

    Brentano (1998, 86 f., 100 f).

  7. 7.

    In the specialist literature, Haller (1988, 22 f.) has advocated for T0, Mezei and Smith for T1 (1998, 2), Volpi (1989, 19) and Hedwig (1988, 40) for T2. As I shall show below, each standpoint has its legitimacy. For an overview of Brentano’s philosophy relevant for the context of the present discussion, see Poli (1998) and Albertazzi (2006).

  8. 8.

    Wright (1971, 4); I added the first part of the thesis.

  9. 9.

    In his lecture on psychology held at the University of Prague since 1880–1, Anton Marty also dealt with this topic, because the second part of his lectures is exactly about the genetic psychology (see Marty 2011; Rollinger 2014).

  10. 10.

    Comte (1830, 86 ff., 96 f., 111 ff.); see also PES, XXVIII, 23 f.

  11. 11.

    Baumgartner et al. (1995, p. XVI); DP also contains fragments from his other lectures and some of his papers on descriptive psychology from around 1900.

  12. 12.

    Brentano (1929, 32 ff).

  13. 13.

    See, for example, Chisholm (1967), Mulligan and Smith (1984/85), Marek (1989) and Albertazzi (2006, 131–143).

  14. 14.

    Brentano 1866b, 1889, 1893). For linguistic corrections, I am particularly indebted to Susan Gabriel. I would also like to thank Susan Gabriel and Alexandru Bejinariu for their critical comments that helped me reach a clearer expression of the theses defended in this paper.

References

  1. Albertazzi L (2006) Immanent realism: an introduction to Brentano. Springer, Dordrecht

    Google Scholar 

  2. Baumgartner W, Chisholm RM, Müller B (1995) Introduction. In: Brentano F (1995b), pp X–XXVI

  3. Brentano F Ms. H 45: Gesch. d. Phil. Einteilung der Wissenschaften. In: Hedwig K (1987), pp XIII-XV

  4. Brentano F (1866a) Die 25 Habilitationsthesen (lateinisch und deutsch). In: Brentano F (1929):133–141

  5. Brentano F (1866b) and (1889) Über schellings philosophie. In: Brentano F (1929):103–132

  6. Brentano F (1869) Auguste Comte und die positive philosophie. In: Brentano F (1926):99–133

  7. Brentano F (1874a) Psychologie vom empirischen standpunkte. Duncker und Humblot, Leipizig

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brentano F (1874b) Über die gründe der entmutigung auf philosophischem gebiete. In: Brentano F (1929):85–100

  9. Brentano F (1893) Über die Zukunft der philosophie. In: Brentano F (1929):1–83

  10. Brentano F (1926) Die vier phasen der philosophie. In: Kraus O (ed) Meiner, Leipzig

  11. Brentano F (1929) Über die zukunft der philosophie. In: Kraus O (ed) Meiner, Leipzig

  12. Brentano F (1982) Deskriptive psychologie. In: Chisholm RM, Baumgartner W (eds) Meiner, Hamburg

  13. Brentano F (1987) Geschichte der philosophie der Neuzeit. In: Hedwig K (ed) Meiner, Hamburg

  14. Brentano F (1995a) Psychology from an empirical standpoint. In: Kraus O, McAlister L (eds) trans. Rancurello AC et al. Routledge, London

  15. Brentano F (1995b) Descriptive psychology. Müller B (ed. and trans.). Routledge, London

  16. Brentano F (1998) The four phases of philosophy and its current state. Mezei B, Smith B (trans.). In: Mezei B, Smith B (1998), pp 81–111

  17. Chisholm RM (1967) Brentano on descriptive psychology and the intentional. In: Lee EN, Mandelbaum MH (eds) Phenomenology and existentialism. Hopkins, Baltimore, pp 1–23

    Google Scholar 

  18. Comte A (1830) Cours de philosophie positive, tome premie. Bachelier, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  19. Haller R (1988) Franz Brentano ein philosoph des empirismus. Brentano Studien 1:19–30

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hedwig K (1987) Vorwort. In: Brentano F (1987), pp IX–XXXIX

  21. Hedwig K (1988) Deskription. Die historischen voraussetzungen und die rezeption Brentanos. Brentano Studien 1:31–45

    Google Scholar 

  22. Marek CJ (1989) Psychognosie–geognosie: apriorisches und deskriptives in der deskriptiven psychologie Brentanos. Brentano Studien 2:53–63

    Google Scholar 

  23. Marty A (2011). Descriptive Psychology. In: Antonelli M, Marek CJ (eds). Würzburg, Könighausen and Neumann

  24. Mezei BM, Smith B (1998) The four phases of philosophy. With an appendix: the four phases of philosophy and its current state by Franz Brentano. Rodopi, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  25. Mulligan K, Smith B (1984) Franz Brentano on the ontology of mind. Philos Phenomenol Res 45:627–644

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Poli R (ed) (1998) The Brentano puzzle: an introduction. The Brentano puzzle. Ashgate, Vermont, pp 1–13

  27. Rollinger R (2014) La psychologie génétique. La conception brentanienne de l’explication de l’esprit exposée dans les cours d’Anton Marty (Prague,1889). In: Niveleau C-E (ed) Vers une philosophie scientifique. Demopolis, Le programme de Brentano. Paris, pp 153–186

    Google Scholar 

  28. Volpi F (1989) War Franz Brentano ein Aristoteliker? Zu Brentanos und Aristoteles’ Auffassung der Psychologie als Wissenschaft. Brentano Studien 1989:13–29

    Google Scholar 

  29. Von Wright GH (1971) Explanation and understanding. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a Grant from Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation, CNCS—UEFISCDI, Project Number PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0473, within PNCDI III.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ion Tănăsescu.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tănăsescu, I. Monism and Particularism: Methodology in Brentano’s Psychology. Axiomathes 29, 397–412 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10516-019-09420-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Empirical psychology
  • Descriptive psychology
  • Empirical method
  • Methodological monism
  • Methodological particularism