Brentano on Judgment

In U. Kriegel (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Franz Brentano and the Brentano School. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 103-109 (2017)
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Abstract
‘Judgment’ is Brentano’s terms for any mental state liable to be true or false. This includes not only the products of conceptual thought, such as belief, but also perceptual experiences, such as seeing that the window was left open. ‘Every perception counts as a judgment,’ writes Brentano (1874: II, 50/1973a: 209). Accordingly, his theory of judgment is not exactly a theory of the same phenomenon we call today ‘judgment,’ but of a larger class of phenomena one (perhaps the main) species of which is what we call judgment. Even if we keep this in mind, though, the profound heterodoxy of Brentano’s theory of judgment is still striking. Brentano develops this heterodox theory in some detail already in the Psychology from Empirical Standpoint (Brentano 1874/1973a). But he continued to work out its details, and various aspects of it, until his death. Many of the relevant articles, notes, and fragments of relevance have been collected by Oskar Kraus in 1930 and published under the title Truth and Evidence (Brentano 1930/1966b). Kraus prefaces this volume with an elaborate reconstruction, of dubious plausibility, according to which Brentano’s accounts of judgment and truth have gone through four distinct stages. In reality, there is a unified underlying conviction underwriting Brentano’s work both on judgment and on truth (see CHAP. 20 on the latter). Here I present this unified core of this highly original theory of judgment, which can be captured in terms of three main theses. The first is that contrary to appearances, all judgments are existential judgments (§1). The second is that the existential force of judgment is indeed a force, or mode, or attitude – it does not come from the judgment’s content (§2). The third is that judgment is not a propositional attitude but an ‘objectual’ attitude (§3).
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