Brentano’s Revolution, Meinong’s Progress and Wittgenstein’s Setback

Erwin Tegtmeier


The bane of modern philosophy is representationalism, the view that we are
acquainted only with (mental) representations. It was initiated by Descartes and
led via British Empiricism into German Idealism. Brentano’s revolution in the
1870ties was to overcome representationalism. His keys were the discovery of the
intentional relation and a clarification of the distinction between the physical
and the mental, which had been blurred by empiricists and idealists. Brentano’s
pupil Meinong made the progress of distinguishing between the content and the
object of mental acts and, more importantly still, of turning the intentional
relation into a genuine connector between mind and its objects. Wittgenstein
seems to have been unaware of Brentano’s revolution and lapses back into
representationalism (although a linguistic version) and with him all of
mainstream analytical philosophy.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; metaphysics; ontology; intentionality; representationalism; diachronic and synchronic identity; A-series; endurance; perdurance; B-series

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