Franz Brentano (1838–1917): Forerunner of the Phenomenological Movement

  • Herbert Spiegelberg
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 5/6)


How far is it legitimate to begin the history of the Phenomenological Movement with Franz Brentano? Certainly Brentano himself did not claim to be a phenomenologist, although he lived long enough to see the Phenomenological Movement spread even beyond Husserl. In fact, as far as he followed Husserl’s development at all, his reaction, in spite of his persistent friendship and good will, was one of growing bewilderment and dismay.1


Psychological Phenomenon Preparatory Phase Empirical Psychology Fictitious Entity Descriptive Psychology 
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Selective Bibliography

Major Works

  1. Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874); incomplete second edition with supplements under the title Klassifikation der psychischen Phänomene (1911). The posthumous edition in 3 volumes by Oskar Kraus (1924, 1925, 1928) contains further additions and editorial introductions and notes. English translation by Antos C. Rancurello, D. B. Terrell and Linda L. McAlister (1973). Departing slightly from the arrangement in Kraus’s German edition — for good reasons. Some new notes. Reliable and readable.Google Scholar
  2. Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis (1889). English translation under the title The Origin of our Knowledge of Right and Wrong by R. M. Chisholm and Elizabeth Schneewind (1973); replacing the 1902 translation by Cecil Hague.Google Scholar

Major Posthumous Editions

  1. Versuch über die Erkenntnis by Kastil (1925).Google Scholar
  2. Vom Dasein Gottes by Kastil (1929).Google Scholar
  3. Wahrheit und Evidenz by Kraus (1930). English translation by R. M. Chisholm and Kurt Fischer as The True and the Evident (1966).Google Scholar
  4. Grundlegung und Aufbau der Ethik by F. Mayer-Hillebrand (1952). Translation in preparation.Google Scholar
  5. Religion und Philosophie by F. Mayer-Hillebrand (1954).Google Scholar
  6. Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil by F. Mayer-Hillebrand (1956).Google Scholar
  7. Grundzüge der Ästhetik by F. Mayer-Hillebrand (1959).Google Scholar
  8. Abkehr vom Nichtrealen by F. Mayer-Hillebrand (1966).Google Scholar

Monographs and Chapters in Books

  1. BRIGHTMAN, E. S., “The Finite Self,” in Barrett, Clifford, ed., Contemporary Idealism in America. New York: Macmillan, 1932. Sections IV and V of this article (pp. 183–192) present Brentano’s view of the self as an example of a non-idealist but congenial position.Google Scholar
  2. EATON, HOWARD, The Austrian Philosophy of Value. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1929. The first three chapters discuss aspects of Brentano’s philosophy relevant to value theory; the chapter on his empirical psychology omits “intentionality.”Google Scholar
  3. GILSON, LUCIE, Méthode et métaphysique selon F. Brentano. Paris: Vrin, 1955. La psychologie descriptive selon F. Brentano. Paris: Vrin, 1955. Both very competent and helpful studies.Google Scholar
  4. KASTIL, ALFRED, Die Philosophie Franz Brentanos. Munich: Lehnen, 1951. Published after the death of the author by Franziska Mayer-Hillebrand; attempts a systematic presentation of Brentano’s last views; no indexes.Google Scholar
  5. KRAUS, OSKAR, Franz Brentano. Munich: Beck, 1919. Includes contributions by Carl Stumpf and Edmund Husserl and a complete list of Brentano’s publications during his lifetime.Google Scholar
  6. RANCURELLO, ANTOS C. A Study ofFranz Brentano. His Psychological Standpoint and His Significance in the History of Psychology. New York: Academic Press, 1968. This book is interested chiefly in Brentano’s place in psychology. It follows E. G. Boring’s interpretation, but also sees in Brentano an ancestor of “humanistic psychology.” Comprehensive annotated bibliography.Google Scholar


  1. The most important discussions of Brentano’s philosophy, either in English translation or in the original English, are included in LINDA L. McALISTER, ed., The Philosophy of Brentano. London: Duckworth, 1976.Google Scholar
  2. The latest important addition is the contributions to the Brentano-Konferenz in Graz (1977) edited by R. M. Chisholm and R. Haller in Grazer Philosophische Studien 5 (1978).Google Scholar
  3. See also Herbert Spiegelberg, The Context of the Phenomenological Movement. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981.Google Scholar


  1. For the primary works see R. M. Chisholm’s list at the end of the McAlister volume, pp. 240–47 in chronological order, followed by a list of the secondary literature on pp. 248–52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert Spiegelberg

There are no affiliations available

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