Brentano, Hume, J.S. Mill, Kant, Comte, Husserl, Aristotle, self, efficient causality, natural science, incidental consciousness, unity of consciousness, inner perception, psychology.
In Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874) Brentano concentrates his attention on defining psychology as the science of psychical phenomena, rather than as the study of the soul. In this regard, he does not have to address Hume’s well-known objection in his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) regarding the existence of the soul as substantial bearer of human experiences and his conclusion about personal identity and the “self” as being no more than “a bundle of perceptions.” Yet Brentano does have an implicit understanding of the self that radically challenges various modern philosophies of the self that are found in Hume, Kant, J.S. Mill, Comte and others to which he alludes in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. This paper explains how Brentano circumvents Hume’s “problem of the I,” by calling into question his views on causality, and then outlines some main features of Brentano’s account of the self that are of most relevance to its understanding and evaluation. In conclusion, however, the paper argues that there is another “problem of the I” in Brentano’s understanding of the self in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, about which he himself is oblivious, but which some of his followers struggled to resolve.
Ion Tănăsescu, Alexandru Bejinariu, Susan Krantz Gabriel, Constantin Stoenescu