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Re: [ontolog-forum] Intentionality Best Practices

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 11:58:24 -0400
Message-id: <5384B620.4020808@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 5/23/2014 3:30 PM, John F Sowa wrote:
On 5/22/2014 9:40 AM, John Bottoms wrote:
I have come across some views that intentionality is difficult or
impossible to implement.
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.

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 wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent 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 intentionality to develop more systematic accounts, they often criticized it for its unclarity regarding the ontological status of the intentional object: if the intentional object is part of the act, it was argued, we are 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.

-John Bottoms
FirstStar Systems
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
using FOL.
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, 
see http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/rolelog.pdf

I discuss some issues about Searle, Carnap, and others in



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