Richard AVENARIUS’ “KRITIK Der Reinen ERFHARUNG”: the English Translation

Arturo Tozzi, MD, PhD, AAP

Center for Nonlinear Science, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas 76203, USA

1155 Union Circle, #311427

Denton, TX 76203-5017 USA


Computational Intelligence Laboratory, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Winnipeg R3T 5V6 Manitoba


E-mail address:

The French-Swiss Professor in inductive philosophy Richard Avenarius (Paris, 1843- Zurich, 1896) and also the father of empirio-criticism together with Ernst Mach, is one of the most underrated and misunderstood philosophers ever. Nevertheless, influenced by the most innovative proposals of his times of transition between the idealistic/rationalist legacies and the new materialistic/scientific interpretation of the reality – i.e, by cultural evolutionism, linguistics, biomechanics, entropy/energy theories and, above all, by the newborn experimental psychology -, he produced a complete and innovative system of philosophy, aiming at investigate the laws of knowledge. Chunks of his original ideas can be found not only in theories of mind/brain after him - such as Gestalt, phenomenalism, behaviourism, functionalism and cybernetics, autopoiesis, dynamical systems theory, embedded/embodied approaches – but also in current neuroscientific approaches – nervous transduction, electric spikes, neural code, multisensory integration, free-energy principle -. Our aim is to provide the first chronological English summary of his masterpiece, the German-written “Kritik”, thus giving the possibility to the (almost) totally unaware English speakers to appreciate such a neglected and innovative thinker. The two books of the “Kritik der reinen Erfahrung” (Critique of Pure Experience), published respectively in 1888 and 1890, comprise a prologue and three parts, divided in 1040 short paragraphs. Each quoted paragraph will be put in bracket [ ]. In order to avoid Avenarius’ technicalities, we will use a simplified idiom. If he were alive today, I would have not agreed with such an oversimplification: indeed, the neologisms he used were partly necessary for the denomination of new phenomena, but partly resulted from the extreme care he took to prevent all possible changes as well in physiological as in psychological theories. We however hope he will forgive us: a better comprehension of his theory will make him a favour.

One of the best gratifications of my cultural life: 

"Dear dr. Tozzi, I have recently been writing a paper on the Machist controversy that took place in late 1900s among Russian left-wing intellectuals. While researching on the reception of Richard Avenarius by the participants of the controversy, I have come across your excellent summary of the Critique of Pure Experience, available on your website. It has been of great help throughout my research, and I would like to thank you for composing it and posting it online. The lack of English-language materials on Avenarius is regrettable; hopefully, your work will direct scholarly attention to this undeservedly overlooked thinker. 

Thank you again, and best regards,

Andriy Bilenkyy"

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