Brentano’s Concept of the Evident

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 7)


It is well known how much E. Husserl’s original project of phenomenology has been inspired by Brentano’s epistemology, which may be characterized as a search for firm foundations. At the foundation of all that we know, or think we know, there must be matters which we know with unshakable certainty. Such a certainty is not merely a characteristic attitude adopted by an epistemic subject who may none the less be in the dark as to what his status is and where he stands in the whole of reality, so that his certainty might quite conceivably be shaken. On the contrary this subject, now that he has dug down to the foundations, need not fear that somewhere an evil genius might still be hiding and frustrate even his very best epistemic efforts. For there is now no longer any darkness or mystery shrouding his place in reality and his capacities to know. Husserl has developed this objective ground for certitude to the point that Brantano himself could no longer understand him.


Traditional Theory Correspondence Theory Ideal Subject Objective Ground Brute Fact 
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  1. 1.
    Franz Brentano, Wahrheit und Evidenz, Felix Meiner, Hamburg, 1962, p. 61 f. (52). Throughout the notes I will add in parentheses the page number of the English translation, The True and the Evident, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p. 143 (125).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., pp. 63–69 (54–59), 141–2 (123–25).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    In his book, Franz Brentano’s Analysis of Truth, The Hague, 1965, Jan Srzednicki states that Brentano’s own view of the evident “comes to saying that it is a brute fact about our world that I am sometimes sure of the truth of some of my judgments” (p. 96). However difficult it may be to interpret his doctrine with regard to the evident, this statement surely betrays the flavour of Brentano’s thought (see, for instance, his own characterization of psychologism on p. 125 (110)). In fact, Srzednicki’s entire discussion of the evident shows little understanding of the issues involved.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., p. 144 (126). I choose the locution “seeing a judgment to be correct,” because it nicely captures the contrast with “blind judgment.” The author, however, uses a variety of expressions: etwas als wahr einsehen, sich als richtig kundgeben, uns einleuchtend sein, eine Eigentuemlichkeit haben, die es (das Urteil) als richtig charakterisiert, einsichtig sein.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., p. 144(126).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    “Wer etwas als wahr einsieht, (mag) erkennen, daß er es als eine Wahrheit fuer alle zu betrachten berechtigt ist” (Ibid., p. 64 (55)).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    This aspect is dealt with at length in Srzednicki’s book, mentioned in footnote no. 4.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    It may be worth noting that many idealist philosophers have also criticized the correspondence theory along this line. It is also present in pragmatism.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    It should be noted that all this follows, if we look to the correspondence theory for guidance in the search for truth. I cannot now elaborate, but it seems to me that this is an important mistake.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Ibid., p. 137 (120). Cf. p. 125–6 (110) and p. 133 (117).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil, edited by Franziska Mayer-Hillebrand (Bern, 1956), p. 195.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Wahrheit und Evidenz, p. 139 (122).Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Psychologie III (Meiner Verlag, 1968), p. 6. Because this recognition must be part of the perception, Brentano takes unkindly to Lichtenberg’s well-known suggestion that the Cartesian/think should be replaced by the impersonal There is thought (es denkt).Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Wahrheit und Evidenz, p. 150 (132); Psychologie I, pp. 128–9, 137, 196–7; III, pp. 6, 12, 98–9; Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil, p. 154f.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Psychologie I, p. 196f.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Although my formulations are quite different, the point I am making seems very similar to that made by Husserl in the appendix to his Logische Untersuchungen, second edition, II, 2, pp. 222–244, esp. pp. 232 and 239.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Psychologie I, p. 28.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil, pp. 162, 165.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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