The Power of Abstraction: Brentano, Husserl and the Göttingen Students

Abstract

A quick look into the index of Brentano’s Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint reveals that all references to “abstract terms” occur only in the appendix (taken from Brentano’s “Nachlass” essays). What should we make of this? Was it the case that the inquiry into abstract, as well as non-existent, objects came as an afterthought to Brentano? Or was he all too aware of the consequences of such investigations? Furthermore, was it largely the absence of such inquirythat prompted Husserl and his early students in Göttingen, such as Daubert and Reinach, to develop a deep ontological commitment to entities he refers to as “abstract” or “ideal”?

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