Edition of Franz Brentano’s Logik

Editor's Preface

The present text consists of notes which Brentano used for logic lectures. The bulk of the text comes from a manuscript (EL 80), simply entitled Logik, which he used for his Würzburg lecture course of the winter semester 1869/70 under the title Deduktive und Induktive Logik. Some of the notes, however, were replaced by new ones for the Würzburg lectures that he held under the same title in the winter semester 1870/71. Further revisions of these notes were made for the lecture course that he held in Vienna in the summer semester 1875 and again in the summer semester 1877. The Vienna lectures of both semesters were given under the title Alte und neue Logik. In the summer semester 1878, however, Brentano began lecturing from a very different set of notes, which he used again with revisions for the winter semester 1884/85 under the title Die elementare Logik und die in ihr nötigen Reformen (EL 72). (It cannot be determined which lecture notes Brentano used for his lectures on logic in the summer semester 1880.) The notes which are edited here are the Logik and not this later set of notes, which will have to be edited independently.

In Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot [1874], p. 302 n.) Brentano announced his intention to publish the lecture notes that he used for the winter semester 1870/71. This is an indication that he revised the manuscript which is the basis for the present edition not only for his lectures, but also for a possible future publication (which was never realized). If this is so, the possibility is left open that Brentano continued to revise the Logik even after the summer semester 1877. The insertion of slips of paper with later dates on them may be seen as a confirmation of this hypothesis, though full certainty on this point is not warranted. There is also a possibility that later editors inserted some of these materials.

Since Brentano used the Logik for lecture courses over a considerable stretch of time, the manuscript exhibits various layers of revision. There are also pages from other clusters of Brentano’s manuscripts (e.g. EL 81) which at one time or another belonged to the material in EL 80. These layers of revision present the editor with extreme difficulties. The edition was initially intended to be done according to the principle of “Ausgabe letzter Hand”. That is to say, the latest version of the Logik was to be presented as the main text. It is, however, often extremely difficult to determine the dates of the manuscript pages. Moreover, even when one version of Brentano’s notes can be identified as later than another, the possibility remains that for the publication he would have used the earlier version. A case in point would be the first page of the original manuscript from 1869/70. This page was replaced by two pages for the lecture course for 1875. Since EL 80 contains the original first page rather than this later replacement, it is possible that Brentano intended to publish the text with the original first page. The version from 1875, after all, differs from the earlier one in hardly any respect at all, except a passing reference to Hegel in the later one.

The problem of editing the Logik is compounded by the fact that Brentano often revised the text not by inserting new pages and possibly replacing old ones, but rather by writing extensively on old pages, sometimes superimposing the new textual layer on an older one. There are indeed some manuscript pages for the Logik which were so densely revised in this manner that they cannot in any meaningful way be edited. Moreover, although Brentano’s handwriting is often quite easy to decipher, it is unfortunately not always so. Sometimes he crams texts into the margins to the point of defying legibility. Sometimes he refers to various philosophers, scientists, and other authors by mere initials. Furthermore, his handwriting from the Vienna period tends to be lacking in neatness as compared to his handwriting from the Würzburg period. Even in cases where his handwriting is neat, however, Brentano often writes in incomplete sentences and sometimes little more than keywords. (Any words which are inserted by the editor, for the purpose of enhancing readability, are in brown to mark them off quite clearly from Brentano’s own words.)

In spite of these enormous difficulties and in spite of the delay with regard to the text-critical notes, Brentano’s Logik is of such great importance and interested researchers have been waiting for this text for such a long time that it has been decided to make a provisional edition available to readers. The result, as can be seen, is a text that reads smoothly only in some places. In other places, however, the note-character of the text is plainly evident. Brentano’s ordering of the text by using letters from the Latin and Greek alphabet as well as Arabic and Roman numerals often becomes so complex and confusing that this can be a stumbling block for the reader, especially when Brentano himself loses track of the order. Transitions from his treatment of one topic to his treatment of another topic may also be rough. It has been decided, however, that it is best to present the Logik with “warts and all” rather than to suppress its note-character. Though the reader is faced with a text of this kind here, this seems better than presenting the reader with an easily readable book which diverges so far from Brentano’s manuscripts that he is the author of them in a sense that approximates fiction, as this has previously been done by some of his editors. The present edition is, in a word, an attempt to present his Logik as it was actually written.

As more relevant material is identified in Brentano’s manuscripts and transcribed, this will be made available. The text-critical notes will have to wait until all of this material is fully available. This also means that the main text of the Logik may still be subject to further editing. The present edition is accordingly as a matter of necessity provisional in character.

The text has been encoded by Thomas Binder, who also gave valuable input with regard to editing. It is a result of project P 19157-G08 supported by the Austrian Science Fund under the direction of Johannes Brandl.

Robin D. Rollinger
Salzburg, December 2010