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2015 | Tom: 5 | Numer: 1 | 35-50

Article title

Franz Kafka’s story "The metamorphosis" in the light of the theory of intentional object in Franz Brentano and Anton Marty



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How does it feel to be a worm? No doubt, it feels Kafkaesque. The metamorphosis (1915) is a story of an ordinary man, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning as an ungeheures Ungeziefer or ‘giant vermin’. Is this only a bodily change, or has his mind been transformed as well? And how do the people around him cope with this transformation? In this paper, I am going to examine these issues by using tools from Franz Brentano’s (1838–1917) and Anton Marty’s (1847–1914) philosophy of mind and language. Rumour has it that Kafka’s stories were not only products of his own troubled soul, but were also profoundly influenced by the work of these two philosophers. In my paper, I will cover the following issues: the influence of Franz Brentano on Anton Marty and a fortiori on Franz Kafka (1883–1924), who was Marty’s student in Prague (and in this way, saying something about the School of Brentano); Brentano’s and Marty’s theory of correct and incorrect emotions, and its traces in Kafka’s The metamorphosis; Marty’s philosophy of language and communication as reflected in Kafka’s writings; and Brentano’s reism in comparison to Kafka’s nominalism, on the basis of Roberto Calasso’s interpretation of Kafka.






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  • Department of Philosophy, University of Szczecin, Poland


  • Brentano, F. (1995). Psychology from an empirical standpoint. (A. C. Rancurello, D. B. Terrell, & L. L. McAlister, Trans., P. Simons, Introd.). London: Routledge.
  • Calasso, R. (2011). K. (S. Kasprzysiak, Trans.). Warszawa: Czuły Barbarzyńca Press.
  • Chrudzimski, A. (2009). Brentano, Marty, and Meinong on emotions and values. In: B. Centi & W. Huemer (Eds.). Values and ontology: Problems and perspectives (pp. 171–189). Frankfurt: Ontos­­‑Verlag.
  • Chrudzimski, A. (2013). Marty on truth­­‑making. In: L. Cesalli & J. Friedrich (Eds.). Anton Marty and Karl Bühler. Between mind and language (pp. 201–234). Basel: Schwabe Verlag (I quote the penultimate version retrieved from: https://szczecin.academia.edu/ArkadiuszChrudzimski, p. 15).
  • Crane, T. (2006). Brentano’s concept of intentional inexistence. In: M. Textor (Ed.). The Austrian contribution to philosophy (pp. 20–35). London: Routledge.
  • Husserl, E. (1919). Erinnerungen and Franz Brentanano. In: O. Kraus (Ed.). Franz Brentano. Zur Kenntnis seines Lebens und seiner Lehre. Mit Beiträgen von Karl Stumpf und Edmund Husserl (pp. 87–149). Munich: O. Beck
  • Jacquette, D. (2006). Brentano’s concept of intentionality. In: D. Jacquette (Ed.). The Cambridge companion to Brentano (pp. 98–130). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kafka, F. (1996). The metamorphosis and other stories. (D. Freed, Trans.). New York: Barnes & Noble Classics.
  • Kamińska, S. (2014). Franz Brentano and his competing world views. A philosopher’s choice between science and religion. Studia Religiologica, 47(4), 285–294.
  • Mulligan, K. (2006). Brentano on the mind. In: D. Jacquette (Ed.). The Cambridge companion to Brentano (pp. 66–97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, B. (1994). Austrian philosophy: The legacy of Franz Brentano. Chicago–La Salle: Open Court Publishing Company.
  • Smith, B. (1997). Brentano and Kafka. Axiomathes, 8, 83–104.
  • Wagenbach, K. (2002). Prague and citizen Kafka. In: J. Insua (Ed.)The city of K. Franz Kafka and Prague (pp. 144–149). Barcelona: Copa Management.

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