Synopsis

In recent years, the theme of Central European philosophy, connected with but independent of literature, has been given more thorough attention. Two outstanding figures have emerged from this inquiry: Bernard Bolzano and Franz Brentano. As regards Brentano in particular, the inexplicable neglect of him by the manuals of the history of philosophy is extremely significant. It is almost as if the collapse of the Empire also erased the awareness of the common origin of many diverse components of Central European philosophical and scientific thought. The Polish logical school, logical neopositivism, phenomenology, the Prague school of linguistics, and analytic philosophy (on which the influence of Brentano and his pupils was less direct), Gestalt psychology, the Vienna economics school — as well as a number of individual thinkers — are all movements and groups connected in some manner with Brentano’s work and teaching. Although in some respects all these movements are still at the center of interest, the overall effect, the pattern of their common and unifying aspects have been neglected if not totally disregarded. It seems that the unity of this philosophical tradition was lost with the end of the geographical and political unity of the great Danubian empire and with the events that accompanied its downfall. After 1918, the centers of that tradition — Vienna, Prague, Lvov, Graz — were incorporated into different states, and its rich network of exchanges, contacts and relationships was dismantled forever. However, there still remained something of its philosophical style in each individual school; some traits which enable us to speak as we are doing now, of “Central European” or “Central- Eastern European” philosophy.