With respect to these propositions, Brentano takes the same view as Leibniz:. It can be shown with utmost clarity that every categorical proposition can be translated without any change of meaning into an existential proposition PES , [II 56; SVS 1, ]. These are semantic claims about the meanings of sentences. In this case, Brentano trusts our linguistic intuitions and takes them to tell us something about the judgements expressed by these propositions.
The translations are meant to reveal to us the true forms of judgement expressed by categorical propositions. Thus, Brentano advances the following reduction thesis:. Notice that whereas the above translation schemes are symmetrical, the reduction thesis involves an asymmetry claim. It does not say that existential propositions express categorical judgements, but conversely that categorical propositions express existential judgements.
There is no explicit argument in Brentano for this interpretation of the translation schemes. Rather, it is the context in which Brentano puts forward the reduction thesis that must provide a justification for it. How might this work? Well, consider the following argument which Brentano constructs with the help of claim 6 :.
Frege, Gottlob | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
It is the direction of this argument that requires the reduction claim made in the second premise. Thus, it is the purpose of the argument that fixes for Brentano the direction in which the reduction has to go. If one accepts the premises, the argument is sound. However, it still leaves open how one evaluates the entire argument because there are hidden assumptions in the premises that Brentano does not disclose.
2. Brentano and His Precursors on Existential Judgement
To make them explicit, one has to read the argument as follows:. The copula does not add anything to the meaning of the terms S and P , and hence nothing to the subject matter of the expressed judgement if the subject matter is fixed by these concepts.
The parts in italics are the tacit assumptions that Brentano makes in this argument. Anyone who takes the subject matter of judgements to be propositions would deny them and hence the soundness of the argument.
That would not immediately disprove the reduction claim 6 , but it would deprive Brentano of a good reason for introducing an asymmetry into his translation schemes. Apparently, Brentano himself changed his mind on the validity of his argument when he later developed his theory of double judgement see section 5 below. We have seen that Brentano heavily relies on the special case of existential judgements in developing a general account of judgement and criticizes other views because they do not work for those cases.
However, none of the named philosophers goes as far as Brentano and takes all judgements to be existential. Hence, Brentano can indeed claim that his own theory fills a gap in the history of ideas. He has told his readers that one judges truly if one separates in thought what is separated in reality and combines in thought what is combined in reality. For example, if Plato and foolishness are separated—the former does not have the latter—one judges truly if one separates Plato and foolishness in thought, that is, judges that Plato is not foolish.
But now Aristotle goes on to tell us that there are incomposites that are not combined with anything. How can one make true or false judgements pertaining to such things? Aristotle introduces in response a further, different notion of truth and judgement. In fact, as truth is not the same in these cases, so also being is not the same; but truth or falsity is as follows—contact and assertion are truth assertion not being affirmation , and ignorance is non-contact.
Metaphysics , b [ 9 ].
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It shows that the strategy to explain judgement and truth in terms of combining and separating runs into a problem. We want a uniform account of judgement. But such an account may not be available, as Brentano later came to see.
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In his theory of double judgement he accepts, like Aristotle did, the pattern of recognition of non-predicative judgement combined with postulating other kinds of judgement see section 5. Brentano refers also with approval to the third chapter of De Interpretatione. As a correct reading of Aristotle this is dubious. Aristotle has the copula signifying some combination. In his answer of this question Brentano took inspiration from St. Thomas and Kant:. In the Middle Ages, St.
It implies that one can use a sign for affirmation without using that very same sign also as a sign for predication.
Brentano’s Theory of Judgement
Then we can symbolize the two judgements above as follows:. That is the inspiration that Brentano gets from St. But, again, there is something in St. Thomas that Brentano finds objectionable. He does not admit that existential judgements simply do not fit this description.
Let us now turn to Kant. With respect to the nature of judgement, Brentano points out that Kant overlooks their essential character by putting them together with presentations into a single category: acts of thinking. Thus it may come as a surprise that there is also a strong agreement between their views. Being is obviously not a real predicate, i.
It is merely the positing of a thing or of certain determinations in themselves. Critique of Pure Reason , A Whether this is the correct interpretation is not important for our purposes. He too tries to make existential judgements agree with the traditional view that every judgement is a combination of representations. Kant may be forgiven his oversight, if one realizes how many logicians followed his path and found it equally incomprehensible to reach the position that Brentano advocates. A telling example of such incomprehension is provided by John Stuart Mill in his letter to Brentano:.
I agree with you that Belief is the essential constituent in a Differentia of judgment, and that the putting together of two ideas is merely a prerequisite or antecedent condition. I cannot, however, think that one idea is a sufficient prerequisite for a judgment. I cannot see how there can be Belief without both a subject and a predicate. If you say that the idea of an elephant suffices for belief in an elephant, belief in an elephant can only mean belief that there is such a thing as an elephant—that an elephant exists: or, in other words, that under some circumstances, and in some place known or unknown, I should perceive by my senses a thing answering the definition of an elephant.
Now this, which is the truth really believed, is a fact, in two terms, not in one only. While Brentano praises Herbart for holding this view, he does not pick up his terminology, expecting little insight from the associations it encourages. These comparisons are not only historically instructive. It is radical in its demand that a theory of judgement must accommodate and not explain away existential judgements.
And it is even more radical in its refusal to make existential judgements satisfy any version of the view of judging as a combinatory or synthetic act, which would nicely fit with the correspondence theory of truth. In refusing to take this step that most philosophers considered to be inevitable, Brentano put a heavy burden on a theory of judgement that tries to give a uniform account of existential and subjectless judgements as well as categorical judgements.
Brentano thought that he can pull off this trick by turning the traditional approach to this problem inside out: instead of trying to show that in fact all judgements are categorical ones, he tries to show that all judgements are existential. If all judgements are reducible to existential ones, no judgement applies a property or concept to an object.
That may sound ludicrous, but it is the only alternative left, unless one is willing to sacrifice the goal of giving a uniform account of judgement as a distinct mental category.
We have seen which views inspired Brentano to disentangle judgement and predication. How can he convince his readers that predication is not necessary for judgement, since we already judge when we merely accept or reject an object? Sometimes Brentano simply trusts his readers to agree with him if they pay sufficient attention to their own judgements and compare them with, for example, presentations. It is […] true that nothing is an object of judgement which is not an object of presentation, and we maintain that when the object of presentation becomes the object of an affirmative or negative judgement, our consciousness enters into a completely new kind of relationship with the object.