On 5/23/2014 3:30 PM, John F Sowa
Mea culpa, I have clearly misunderstood the
definition of intentionality. JohnS' comments have nudged me back
to Brentano's writings to see what he originally meant. It was
apparently not clear from the start perhaps because it contrasted
greatly with contemporary views.
On 5/22/2014 9:40 AM, John Bottoms wrote:
I have come across some views that intentionality is difficult or
impossible to implement.
Stanford's Plato quotes him: "Every mental phenomenon is
characterized by what the
Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental)
inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not
unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object
(which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or
objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object
within itself... (Brentano, Psychology, 88)"
Wikipedia clarifies the statement: "The term refers to the ability
of the mind
to form representations and has nothing to do with intention."
In defense of my (and other's) misunderstanding, Stanford's Plato
goes on to say: "When Brentano's students took up his notion of
develop more systematic accounts, they often criticized it for its
unclarity regarding the ontological status of the intentional
if the intentional object is part of the act, it was argued, we
faced with a duplication of the object." So, even his students had
some questions about the concept.
Be patient with me for now, I'm still digesting what Brentano had
in mind. Further, Dennett and others have also weighed in with
their own interpretations. Finally, it appears to me that usage by
my a fore referenced professor's statement came without
explanation in an unexpected domain of discourse (urban
development). I should like to determine if that usage was done
with a full appreciation of the current usage. I expect many in CS
have not looked into the original usage.
Concord, MA USA
It's difficult or impossible for those philosophers who try to
eliminate anything that is "unscientific" or "anthropomorphic".
Since intentionality, by definition, depends on somebody's intention,
it is, by definition, anthropomorphic -- or at least zoomorphic.
But without recognizing the importance of intentionality, it's
impossible to define anything that depends on goals or purpose.
That includes business, law, government, economics, and life.
There appear to be a number of candidate reasons including lack of
consensus, issues with dualism, ambiguity of language or implementation
The lack of consensus is the result of the half century of behaviorism
in the early part of the 20th c. In the late 19th c, there were many
enlightened philosophers such as Peirce, Brentano, and their followers
who understood the issues. Husserl was a student of Brentano's, and
he did his best to reconcile intentionality with the onslaught of
Some of Husserl's students, such as Heidegger, went off the deep end
with those methods. The net result is that most analytic philosophers
were scared of mentioning anything that might trigger a criticism that
they were being "unscientific". Fortunately, scientists like Einstein
had no fear of being unscientific. Einstein criticized philosophers
like Ernst Mach and Bertrand Russell for their "Angst" about such
More recently, philosophers like John Searle have been getting back to
intentionality. But many are still too timid about being criticized
by the so-called "mainstream" of analytic philosophy (i.e, the people
who control tenure and promotion). For some discussion and references,
I discuss some issues about Searle, Carnap, and others in