KRIEGEL, Uriah. Brentano's Philosophical System: Mind, Being, Value.
The introduction provides interesting biographical information about Brentano (1838-1917) and also gives a clear picture of the purposes and structure of the volume. Part 2 is devoted to Brentano's philosophy of mind, including the nature of consciousness, intentionality, and the modes of conscious intentionality, specifically the three fundamental classes famously proposed by Brentano: presentation, judgment, and phenomena of interest (for example, love, hate, desire, preference, delight). Part 2 explores the nature of judgment and its implications for Brentano's theory of what it means to affirm that something exists, as well as what things may actually be said to exist. Part 3 explores the nature of phenomena of interest, as well as issues about what it means to say that something is good or beautiful, and what goods may be considered intrinsically or instrumentally good. In part 4, Kriegel shows how the three main parts of Brentano's philosophy fit together into a system in which the true, the good, and the beautiful each has its place in harmony with the others.
Endnotes for each chapter expand upon the points raised and are very useful and informative. The bibliography is extensive, both as regards Brentano's published and unpublished works and as regards relevant current literature in analytic philosophy. Kriegel also provides page references for both German and English editions (where the latter exist) for every Brentano quotation. Kriegel uses his own English translations, which depart from the English (and even sometimes from the German) editions. (Page number citations for The Foundation and Construction of Ethics are inaccurate, unfortunately.)
Kriegel offers a sympathetic reading of Brentano, including speculation as to why he might have embraced this or that seemingly odd position. In addition, Kriegel explains clearly where he thinks Brentano's view needs supplementation and where he thinks parts of Brentano's view should be excised as implausible and/or unnecessary. Further, he relates and, where appropriate, contrasts Brentano's philosophical moves to positions held today by analytic philosophers, referencing such topics as belief-in, belief-that, direction of fit, foundationalism, phenomenal intentionality, adverbialism, objectual attitude, metaontology, truthmakers, functionalism, and algedonic feelings, among others.
In the introduction, Kriegel notes that Brentano scholars may be alarmed by some of his choices, for instance, his preference for "conscious" rather than "mental" (for psychisch), "self-evident" rather than "evident" (for evident), and "with the character of fittingness" rather than "experienced as being correct" (for als richtig characterisiert) In each case, the latter expression has been standard in English editions for decades. Personally, I am inclined to prefer the standard translations as generally taking account not just of the possible meaning of a word or phrase but also of the larger context. Kriegel, though, sees Brentano's psychology as a theory of consciousness such that consciousness is not an entity with properties--nor is mind. This signals a rejection of the purely mental substance whose existence, however, Brentano saw as evident in inner experience.
Kriegel passes over Brentano's devotion, not to religion, which Brentano considered a mere surrogate for philosophy, but to natural theology. I doubt, however, that Brentano would regard his philosophical system as complete without his theodicy.
Kriegel also makes astonishing claims about Brentano's views. Two of these are that Brentano's ontology is nominalist and that his ethics is consequentialist. In the first case, compare Brentano's rather fierce denouncement of Ockham's nominalism in Geschichte der Mittelalterlichen Philosophie. In the second case, recall that Brentano was a careful student of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas (his personal library bears evidence of this); surely it would be more accurate to characterize Brentano's ethics as teleological, like theirs, and not consequentialist like Bentham's or even Mill's. In both cases, if this is Brentano, nomina nuda tenemus!
That said, Kriegel openly writes in the terms, and with a view to the issues, that are alive in analytic philosophy now. He is not only doing history of philosophy. Moreover, a large part of Brentano's charm has been his ability to inspire thinkers as different as Bertrand Russell and Edmund Husserl, G. E. Moore and Martin Heidegger. Surely there is room in this world for another creative and original take on the Brentanian corpus.--Susan Krantz Gabriel, Saint Anselm College
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|Author:||Gabriel, Susan Krantz|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2018|
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