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  • 1/17/2004

Franz Brentano


German philosopher generally regarded as the founder ofAct Psychology, or intentionalism, which concerns itself with theacts of the mind rather than with the states of mind or the impact of stimuli upon consciousness; his “empirical psychology” develops empiricism in the direction of subjective idealism, with a sharp line drawn between physical and psychical phenomena and denying any objective content for ideas, deeply connected with his Theism; Brentano was an important influence on Husserl.
Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1864, Brentano became a Professor at the University of Würzburg in 1872, but doubts over the dogma of papal infallibility led to his resignation from his post, and eventually from the priesthood in 1873.
Brentano then began writing one of his best-known and most influential works,Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874), in which he tried to present a systematic psychology as a “science of the soul”.
Brentano's psychology is based on a revival of the scholastic theory of “intentional existence”, that is, when one “directs the mind to something” it may thereby be deemed to have “immanent objectivity”, without any reference to a concept of objective existence outside of consciousness. Brentano classified different modes of intention: perception and ideation, including sensing and imagining; judgment, including acts of acknowledgment, rejection, remembering, desire, etc.. The objective existence of the object of intention is beside the point.
Brentano was eventually accepted back to his post in 1881 where his students included Sigmund Freud, psychologist Carl Stumpf, philosopher Edmund Husserl, and Tomás Masaryk, the founder of modern Czechoslovakia.

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