If European thinking begins with the Greeks, as Bruno Snell once wrote, then contemporary European philosophical thinking begins with the Austrians and the Germans. The analytic-continental divide—the most widely accepted mapping of the vast regions of contemporary European thought—is the most eloquent illustration of this fact. In most histories at the origins of this mapping, the divide finds its source in the geographical space between the Rhine and the Danube, within the timespan of one hundred years, roughly between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This geographical space and timespan is exceptionally rich: not only does it contain the outstanding cultural and artistic explosion of Fin-de-siècle in the Austro-Hungarian empire, but it is also the space in which Austrian economics emerged at the turn of the century.

Given the impressive amount of literature characterising the divide and the exceptional richness of its sources, it is particularly striking that there has been so little historical, philosophical, and editorial work conducted systematically on the sources of the divide. This project aims to fulfil this desideratum by following a threefold objective: 

(1) Genealogically, the project will focus on philosophers of the geographical space who are at the origins of the main movements and tendencies of contemporary European thought: Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848), Ernst Mach (1838–1916) and Franz Brentano (1838–1917). Indeed, many of the contemporary innovations in logic, semantics and ontology derive from Bolzano, the ‘Leibniz from Bohemia’, while Mach is the father of the philosophy of the natural sciences and Brentano the originator of contemporary philosophy of mind and phenomenology. 

(2) The project will show how these three major figures were involved in the major disagreements concerning the history of the late nineteenth–early twentieth centuries, disagreements which gave rise to contemporary European thought. 

(3) The project will provide and make use of primary sources, e.g. the literary remains, correspondence and lecture manuscripts of these three thinkers, and make these materials available in the form of editions and translations, as the very existence of this desideratum derives largely from insufficient or non-existent translations and editions of the primary sources of contemporary European thought and from our largely deficient knowledge of its corpus.