The Four Phases of Philosophy:
Brentano’s Theory and Austria’s History
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From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, philosophy in Austria has progressed through four phases. Theparticularities of the first three of these phases have prompted a number of commentators rightly to distinguish a characteristic Austrian, as distinct from German, way of doing philosophy. The main figure of the second phase was Franz Brentano, and his distinctive theory of the four-phase cycle of philosophical development is outlined, and critically compared to other views of the development of philosophy. In Austria itself the caesuras between the phases were marked as much by political as by philosophical events, and the paper shows how philosophy in Austria has been notable in all its phases for the high level and overwhelmingly negative effect of political interference in intellectual life, a doleful saga which continues to this day.