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Can we have scientific knowledge about God?

Brentano on Comte’s metaphysical skepticism

Susan Krantz Gabriel

pp. 165-183

In “Auguste Comte und positive Philosophie,” Brentano focuses on Comte’s Law of the Three States through which human knowledge develops. The highest is the positive state in which theological and metaphysical speculation are abandoned in favor of empirical observation and phenomena are subsumed under increasingly general laws. Because this state abandons insight into causality, it could imply an abandonment of natural theology, which leads Brentano to question Comte’s understanding of “theology” and “metaphysics.” Although an admirer of Comte, Brentano seeks to correct some of Comte’s conclusions in light of Brentano’s theory of the four phases of philosophy. I suggest that we see here to what extent the early Brentano is a follower of the empiricist Aristotle and to what extent he follows the more idealistic or a prioristic approaches of Plato and Descartes. The question of scientific knowledge about God leads to several senses of “experience” in Brentano.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1515/9783110734645-007

Full citation:

Krantz Gabriel, S. (2022)., Can we have scientific knowledge about God?: Brentano on Comte’s metaphysical skepticism, in I. Tănăsescu, A. Bejinariu, S. Krantz Gabriel & C. Stoenescu (eds.), Brentano and the positive philosophy of Comte and Mill, Berlin, de Gruyter, pp. 165-183.

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