Marty, Anton (1847–1914)

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Anton Marty was a professor of philosophy at the German University of Prague and for forty years a close associate of Franz Brentano. Marty's most important work is the Untersuchungen zur Grundlegung der allgemeinen Sprachtheorie (Halle, 1908), a treatise on the philosophy of language. His theory of meaning, or "semasiology," is based upon Brentano's descriptive psychology. From a contemporary point of view, the most interesting aspects of this theory are the distinction between categorematic and syncategorematic uses of words and the theory of emotive utterances.

Like Brentano, Marty appeals to the correctness of affirmation and rejection, and of love and hate (in a broad sense) to explicate the syncategorematic character of certain basic philosophical concepts. In the assertion "There is a horse," the words "a horse" refer to an object, but the words "there is" serve only to express the fact that the speaker is accepting or acknowledging the object. An object is said to have being if it may be correctly accepted; it has nonbeing if it may be correctly rejected; it is good if it may be correctly loved; it is bad if it may be correctly hated; the necessary is that which may be correctly accepted a priori; the impossible is that which may be correctly rejected a priori.

Marty rejected the view of Bernard Bolzano and Alexius Meinong, according to which there are objects that may be said to "subsist" and not to "exist." But he did contend that the objects that may be said to "exist" may be classified as being either "real" or "nonreal." Examples of nonreal objects that exist are gaps, deficiencies, holes, space, time, and what Marty called the content of a judgment. (If the judgment "There are horses" is correct, then there exists that nonreal object that is the being of horses; if it is incorrect, then there exists that nonreal object that is the nonbeing of horses.) According to Marty, nonreal objects have no causal efficacy, and their existence is always a function of the existence of certain concomitant real objects. Brentano objected to this view on the ground that sentences ostensibly referring to such nonreal objects may be translated into sentences referring only to the real objects that Marty conceded to be their concomitants ("There is an absence of food in the larder" serves only to express the rejection of food in the larder) and that hence all such "irrealia" are superfluous. But where Marty restricted "real" to a subclass of things that exist, Brentano said that judgments about unicorns are also judgments about "real objects"; these judgments are about things that, if they were to exist, would be real (in Marty's sense of "real").

The word good, according to Marty, serves to express one's love of an object; "bad" serves to express one's hate of an object. Marty discussed the emotive function of ethical sentences in detail and noted the ways in which such sentences are related to commands, recommendations, questions, and optatives. However, unlike contemporary emotivists, Marty held with Brentano that the emotions expressed and incited by ethical sentences are emotions that are either correct or incorrect; his theory of ethical sentences could thus be said to be emotive and also objective. He discussed in detail the relations among emotive and nonemotive sentences and the respects in which sentences of the one type may presuppose sentences of the other (for example, a man who calls "Stop thief!" asserts implicitly that there is a thief and that he is trying to get away).

See also Bolzano, Bernard; Brentano, Franz; Emotive Theory of Ethics; Meinong, Alexius; Philosophy of Language.


Marty's posthumously published Raum und Zeit (Halle: Niemyer, 1916) sets forth a comprehensive theory of space, time, and causality. His writings also include Über den Ursprung der Sprache (Würzburg: Stuber, 1875). Die geschichtliche Entwicklung des Farbensinnes (Vienna, 1879); Die logische, lokalistische und andere Kasustheorien (Halle, 1910); Gesammelte Schriften, edited by Josef Eisenmeir, Alfred Kastil, and Oskar Kraus, 2 vols. (Halle: Niemyer, 19161920); and Nachgelassene Schriften, edited by Otto Funke (Bern, 19401950).

See also Oskar Kraus, Anton Marty: sein Leben und seine Werke (Halle, 1916); and Die Werttheorien (Brünn: Rudolf M. Rohrer, 1937).

Roderick M. Chisholm (1967)