Brentano and Freud: intentionality and representational theory in “Zur Auffassung der Aphasien” (1891)

Gleisson R Shmidt


Amongst the most seminal writers who influenced Freud's thought is the one who for two years was his Professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna: Franz Brentano. The interlocution between Brentano's philosophy and Freudian psychoanalysis presents itself today as a really broad field of research, made feasible after the publication of the letters of youth exchanged between Freud and his friend Eduard Silberstein, thanks to which it was possible to affirm with significant degree of certainty the whole extent of Brentano's influence on Freud's work. The present work intends to be inserted in this field of investigations. We argue that it is from the Brentanian conception of the psychical phenomenon (psychische Phänomen) that Freud will sketch the broad frame of the psychic reality (psychische Realität) as "a special form of existence which should not be confused with material reality” (Freud, S. Die Traumdeutung, 1914, p. 480). Therefore, we propose to describe the Brentanian conception of intentionality present in the Psychologie vom empirischen Standkpunkt (1874) and to analyze the resonances of this concept in the Freudian theory of representation (Vorstellung). This theory, which reflects Brentano's most fundamental thesis - the impossibility of an act of representation occurring in the absence of a represented object - appears for the first time in the text Zur Auffassung der Aphasien. Eine kritische Studie (The Interpretation of Aphasia. A Critical Study) of 1891.


Intentionality. Psychic phenomenon (psychisches Phänomen). Psychic reality (psychisches Realität). Representation (Vorstellung)

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ISSN 2179-9180