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Thursday, February 19, 2009

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As far as I know, no one just feels "pain". We feel pain in specific areas of our body, pain in the hand, for instance. Pain has a location.

Searle give a different example. A vague feeling of anxiety. Such anxiety has no object and is therefore not intentional. If the anxiety were about something definite, the anxiety would be intentional. A vague anxiety, however, is not. By contrast, no one ever has a feeling of pain with no location for the pain.

Bob,

I'm sure you are a nice guy but you are just not equipped for these discussions. Of course, there is a sense in which the pain caused by placing a hand in extremely hot water is located in the hand. It is located in the hand in the sense that part of what causes the pain are events that occur in the hand. But that is simply irrelevant to the question whether FELT pain, PHENOMENAL pain, pain as a mental state, is an intentional mental state.

I hate to go on a rant, but I wonder if pain really isn't an intentional state. I tend to believe all mental content (and sensory content is also presumed) is inherently intentional, but correct me if I just don't get the point (and pardon my philosophical naivete).
So, to the first, I think this is adequately answered in reference to the fourth point - intentional state M as directed to O1 does not necessarily entail O2, even if identical in existence. So, it seems to direct the mind toward that which it knows - the object of its pain by reference to the extremity in pain as well as, to a certain extent, that from which it feels pain. I will try to resolve this more completely below.
To the second, I can't conceive of a pain that lacked intentional object; maybe it's just my lack of imagination. The way I think about it is in terms of the senses and physical faculties. So, we tend to classify pains based on the particular sense organ which is in pain (and all pains would by necessity be from senses). Most often, this seems to be the sense of touch. This is a two-fold intentionality: First, every sense organ has a proper object. The senses, as such, are oriented "toward" objects which they sense, either as proper (sighted objects) or as common (weight). But this is nothing other than an intentional orientation, as all sense data necessarily entails its object according to the criteria above. One must say, then, that all painful objects in terms of the sense of touch entail a perceptual object which causes that pain. Second, "pain" as a notion seems to entail something opposite to the desire associated with "pleasure." Pain entails "aversion" from something as painful. But aversion (or desire) thus entails an object as the terminus a quo. Thus, pain seems to be intentional. If I am correct, the sense of your confusion on this would be in reducing the scope of the intentional object from its proper mode as "object causing burning sensation" to an overly specific "hot water." Not all cases of pain in touch entail hot water, but they do seem to necessarily entail "object/cause painful to sense of touch" ect.
To the third, I tend to reject the formulation of this criteria. This might be the most objectionable part of my position, but I do tend to believe intentionality entails a measure of existence of the intentional object. I think, in fact, this is the same reason one would hold that pain entails existence of objects/causes of that pain. In response to the objection based on wanting imaginary objects, I would just point to the fact that they "are" conceptual or imaginary; they possess some form of existence as "ens intentionale." Even if we accept your criteria, it seems to beg the question as to whether pain necessarily entails any other sort of existence other than intentional existence (the "minimum" level).
The answer to the fourth seems to have already been given.

Bill,

Can we not make a case that the intentional object of the state of feeling a pain in the hand is the pain in the hand itself? For:

1. Directedness. Yes. One would say "I am feeling a pain in the hand".

2. Essence. Yes. One has to use the phrase 'a pain in the hand' to describe the mental state.

3. No inference to existence. Yes. Phantom limb pain. How can there be a pain in the hand when there is no hand?

4. No inference to identity. Tricky. I'm not sure I understand the formulation of this criterion. Let mIo denote 'mental state m has intentional object o'. Then the criterion seems to be saying that it must be possible for mIo1 and o1=o2 but ~mIo2, which seems impossible to satisfy. How can o1 be the same as o2 and not share all its properties? Is your 'the same as' a weaker notion of identity than the usual one? So that two things can be 'the same as' one another without sharing all properties?

Bill,

Can we not make a case that the intentional object of the state of feeling a pain in the hand is the pain in the hand itself? For:

1. Directedness. Yes. One would say "I am feeling a pain in the hand".

2. Essence. Yes. One has to use the phrase 'a pain in the hand' to describe the mental state.

3. No inference to existence. Yes. Phantom limb pain. How can there be a pain in the hand when there is no hand?

4. No inference to identity. Tricky. I'm not sure I understand the formulation of this criterion. Let mIo denote 'mental state m has intentional object o'. Then the criterion seems to be saying that it must be possible for mIo1 and o1=o2 but ~mIo2, which seems impossible to satisfy. How can o1 be the same as o2 and not share all its properties? Is your 'the same as' a weaker notion of identity than the usual one? So that two things can be 'the same as' one another without sharing all properties?

Bill,

I sympathise with David. It seems possible to take a sense of bodily location as the intentional object of a pain state. I think in your post you are assuming that the object of a pain state has to be physical limb itself and/or its surroundings, correct? But we can make a pain state a higher order intentional state: an awareness of something pertaining to your awareness of a bodily location.

This suggests a counter-example to your principle (4): suppose (i) I am in pain and (ii) that I believe I am. The intentional state expressed by (ii) has as its object something which cannot be considered under different aspects - pain is pain, and that's all there is to it. Mental states like don't seem to have an aspectual shape because, for them, the appearance is the reality so that there can be no two aspects to them such that you might, say, believe something of them under one aspect yet withhold that belief under another aspect.

But since we clearly can have beliefs about self-presenting mental states like pain, your (4) must not be a necessary condition for intentionality.

Whaddya think?

Matt.

I would say No. First of all, the pain is a mental state not to be confused with anything going on in the hand or in the neural pathways, etc. I can of course reflect upon this pain-state as when I think to myself 'I am now in pain.' But in this case the pain is the intentional obhect of an act of reflection. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the felt pain itself, the pain as mental state.

Please see the latest post, on Searle, for more details.

The last reply was directed to David.

Matt writes, "I think in your post you are assuming that the object of a pain state has to be physical limb itself and/or its surroundings, correct?" What makes you think that? My point is precisely that a pain state, say a toothache, does not have an intentional object. Compare looking at a tooth using a mirror from feeling pain 'in' that tooth. The seeing is an intentional act whose intentional object is the tooth. But the pain sensation is not about anything in the way the seeing is about the tooth. See latest post, on Searle.

Bill,

Although you deny pain states have objects, I took you to be saying that the only faintly plausible candidates for the objects of pain states were the physical limbs themselves and/or their surroundings.

I give a model on which this is denied and pains are directed in my comment on your Searle post.

Matt.

Hello Bill,

I'm interested in your principles of intentionality Nos 3 and 4. These seem to be describing a kind of referential opacity. Since such opacity is characteristic of belief can we perhaps say that a (sensory) intentional state must involve a belief. But this belief must be over and above beliefs of the form 'A certain raw feel (of a certain character) is present'. It must go beyond mere consciousness of sensation. Peter is saying something related in his comment about 'normative assessment', I think.

Imagine the following scenario: you are in a psychological lab comfortably seated wearing earphones hooked up to a sophisticated sound generator. At first you are presented with a continuous pure 440Hz tone with equal intensity in each ear. Would this induce an intentional state? I suspect you would say No. The best we could report in this situation is something like "I'm surrounded by sound. It doesn't appear to be coming from any particular source". If you are musical you might say "It's an A". Now imagine the sound being gradually modified: harmonics of various intensities are added; the sound levels delivered to each ear change so that you get a sense of the direction from which the sound is coming; the fundamental tone starts to vary in frequency; the continuous tone begins to break up into discrete tones of varying lengths; the discrete tones develop varying harmonic profiles of attack and decay. At some point you will say "Ah, I'm hearing someone playing Für Elise badly on a piano in front of me and a bit to the right". Definitely an intentional state.

Would you say that there is a degree of intentionality throughout this experience which rises continuously from nothing, or would you say (as I think you would) that the intentionality 'switches on' when tune, instrument, and direction suddenly become apparent? That is, when a definite belief forms about what is going on. Or is the story perhaps more complicated, with the intentionality in each of these modes switching on at different times?

We can imagine something similar happening when handed, blindfold, an unknown object to touch. At some point the raw feels may 'congeal' into a definite conviction as to what the object is. Before then all we believe is that roughnesses, edginesses, pointednesses, curvednesses, etc, are present in various places. For a visual example, look at this well-known picture from the psychology books.

Now, have I 'got' what you mean by the phenomenology of (sensory) intentionality, or am I barking up the wrong tree? If I have, then I'm inclined to agree that pain states involve little or no intentionality. Although we can discriminate different types of localised pain (cuts, pricks, bruises, grazes, burns, scalds, aches, hungers, etc) they induce only a vague belief that 'there may be something amiss with my body, somewhere'. And itches would appear to be even less informative.

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