Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint

Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint

Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint
The German edition
Author Franz Brentano
Original title Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte
Translator Antos C. Rancurello, D. B. Terrell, Linda L. McAlister
Country Germany
Language German
Subject Philosophy
  • 1874 (in German)
  • 1973 (in English)
Media type Print
Pages 415 (English edition)
ISBN 0-415-10661-3 (English edition)

Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (German: Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte) is an 1874 book by the Austrian philosopher Franz Brentano. His best-known book,[1] much has been written about its "intentionality passage":

... Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages call the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself, although they do not all do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgement something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on.[2]

Barry Smith writes that this thesis has "proved to be one of the most influential in all of contemporary philosophy." It gave rise to Husserlian phenomenology, and also lies at the root of much of the thinking of analytic philosophers on meaning and reference and on the relations of language and mind. Brentano's use of the notion of intentionality as a criterion for the demarcation of the psychological realm also pervades much contemporary philosophizing within the realm of cognitive science.[2]

Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint has been compared to Sigmund Freud's early metapsychology, especially as expressed in his Project for a Scientific Psychology. However, while Brentano discussed the possible existence of the unconscious mind, he came to a negative conclusion concerning its existence, a rejection that followed largely from his definitions of consciousness and unconsciousness. Brentano suggested that Thomas Aquinas was one of the first people to suggest the existence of "an unconscious consciousness."[3]

See also



  1. ^ Baumgartner 2005. p. 106.
  2. ^ a b Smith 1996. p. 35.
  3. ^ Vitz 1988. pp. 53-54.