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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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He goes on “In der Vorstellung ist etwas vorgestellt, in dem Urteile ist etwas anerkannt oder verworfen, in der Liebe geliebt, in dem Hasse gehasst, in dem Begehren begehrt usw.” (“In presentation something is presented, in judgment something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on.”)

Exegetical point: What is the ‘something’ for Brentano? For example, if Jake hates Napoleon, Jake hates something. Does Brentano mean that Napoleon is the ‘something’? Or does he mean that there is some Napoleon-content that is hated. I think (and I think it is obvious) that it is the former, but what is your view?

I agree that ‘Inhalt’ is problematic. But I don’t agree it is clear cut (as you seem to suggest) that there is a definite ‘thesis of Intentionality’ to be found anywhere in the literature. McDonnell:

Commentators and critics today still disagree among themselves about the originality (or lack of originality) of Brentano’s concept of intentionality. And they disagree about the originality (or lack of originality) of Brentano’s concept in respect to both the scholastic concept and the Husserlian concept of intentionality. No doubt, the fact that Brentano employs scholastic terminology in a new context (i.e. in ‘descriptive psychology’) is one the main sources that has evoked much hermeneutic disagreement and difficulty. Another potent source of hermeneutic confusion lies in the fact that several of Brentano’s own immediate students and ‘followers’ (e.g. Meinong, Hofler, Twardowski, Husserl, Sartre, Chisholm, to mention but a few), all developed their own versions of ‘Brentano’s thesis of intentionality’, whilst maintaining that each of their respective versions either adhered to or (critically) advanced ‘Brentano’s thesis’, even though such versions themselves are notoriously different from each other. All of this complicates considerably the task of interpreting, understanding and assessing the historical and philosophical innovation of Brentano’s thesis. Whose thesis and which thesis of intentionality that one is addressing and evaluating are important questions to bear in mind when dealing with this matter. Nevertheless, it is generally acknowledged that it is principally due to Brentano and to his students in the 1880s, and in particular to Husserl and to his extensive development of the tenet of the intentionality of consciousness in the elaboration of his idea of phenomenology in the 1900s, that the medieval-scholastic terminology of ‘intentional act’ and ‘intentional object’ re-gained widespread currency in philosophical circles in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
(“Brentano’s Modification of the Medieval-Scholastic Concept of ‘Intentional Inexistence’ in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874)”, Cyril McDonnell, Maynooth Philosophical Papers, Issue 3, 2006. I write this because you say “Buckner is doubly mistaken in his characterization of it”, i.e. where ‘it’ presumably means some Intentionality thesis. But which thesis?

Brentano:

I grasp a representation in myself; this is not without something that is presented, that is: without an immanent object there, be it present outside [draußen] or not.

(From the manuscript Q 10 in the Husserl-Archives, lecture notes on descriptive psychology (1887/88), notes from Hans Schmidkunz, copied by Malvine Husserl, kept at the Husserl-Archives, Leuven, my emphasis.)

Suppose “Jake is thinking of Jupiter” is true, and suppose that by ‘Jupiter’ Jake means the planet. In that case, according to B, the immanent object is the planet Jupiter, the object that is ‘present outside’. Do you agree?

By contrast, suppose that by ‘Jupiter’ Jake means the false god. In that case, according to B, the immanent object is the false god, the object that is not ‘present outside’. Do you agree?

Where did you find the 4:11 quotation?

>>Suppose “Jake is thinking of Jupiter” is true, and suppose that by ‘Jupiter’ Jake means the planet. In that case, according to B, the immanent object is the planet Jupiter, the object that is ‘present outside’. Do you agree?<<

Your question is ambiguous. Are you asking me what B. means or what is the case? It obviously cannot be the case that the planet Jupiter is in my head or in my mind. To say that it is in my mind, immanent to my mental state, is almost as absurd as to say that that massive extraterrestrial thing is spatially inside my head.

As I argued above, Brentano confuses content and object.

>>By contrast, suppose that by ‘Jupiter’ Jake means the false god. In that case, according to B, the immanent object is the false god, the object that is not ‘present outside’. Do you agree?<<

Same ambiguity. But here things are trickier. Some ancient Romans believed in Jupiter and prayed to him: he controlled the weather acc. to their mythology. They were not praying to some intramental item. Whether or not the god Jupiter exists, he is not the sort of thing that could be a mental content. The ancient Roman prayed to a transcendent thing that he took to exist. We deny the existence of this same transcendent thing. Now Brentano could not move in this Meinongian direction because he could not grant that some items do not exist.

>>Exegetical point: What is the ‘something’ for Brentano? For example, if Jake hates Napoleon, Jake hates something. Does Brentano mean that Napoleon is the ‘something’? Or does he mean that there is some Napoleon-content that is hated. I think (and I think it is obvious) that it is the former, but what is your view?<<

If we interpret the Brentano of 1874 and thereabouts in your way, then he is maintaining something absurd, namely, to hate Napoleon is to hate an immanent content. That would not be charitable. Perhaps he could be read charitably as saying that there is a Napoleon-content in the hater's mind and that via this content, the hater hates Napoleon.

>>But I don’t agree it is clear cut (as you seem to suggest) that there is a definite ‘thesis of Intentionality’ to be found anywhere in the literature.<<

>>where ‘it’ presumably means some Intentionality thesis. But which thesis?<<

I did not say that there is one well-defined thesis of intentionality that all writers on the topic agree upon. I agree that there are many theses of intentionality. Here is what I wrote:

One mistake to avoid is the conflation of object-directedness with object-dependence. D. E. Buckner speaks of an “. . . illusion that has captured the imagination of philosophers for at least a hundred years: intentionality, sometimes called object-dependence, a supposed unmediated relationship between thought and reality . . . .” (Reference and Identity in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Scriptures: The Same God? Rowman and Littlefield, 2020, p. 195) Apart from his eliminativism about intentionality, Buckner is doubly mistaken in his characterization of it. No one except Buckner has, to my knowledge, characterized intentionality in general from Brentano on down as object-dependence, but it is standard, especially among analytic philosophers, to characterize it in terms of object-directedness.

What I am saying above is, first, that one cannot accurately describe intentionality theory in general in externalist terms even if some latter-day intentionality theories are externalist, and, second, one cannot accurately describe intentionality theory in general as committed to an unmediated mind-world connection even if some intentionality theorists have sought to dispense with epistemic intermediaries/deputies. After all, some intentionality theories are unabashedly representationalist.

Thus doubly mistaken. Perhaps trebly: On some but not all theories intentionality is not a relation. Adverbial theories for example.

Sorry if that sounds harsh.

> Where did you find the 4:11 quotation?
In the McDonnell paper, referenced above.

Re your comments on my 08:26 AM post, I will deal with the object-dependence question in my forthcoming proposed guest post.

07:38 post “Are you asking me what B. means or what is the case?” Honestly Bill, I clearly said in my comment “according to B”, so I was asking what B means. It follows from his phrase ‘present outside’ that he means that the immanent object is the planet Jupiter. You say “It obviously cannot be the case that the planet Jupiter is in my head or in my mind”, and I agree, but the question is what B means.

“If we interpret the Brentano of 1874 and thereabouts in your way, then he is maintaining something absurd, namely, to hate Napoleon is to hate an immanent content.”

I haven’t found any place where B talks about ‘immanent content’. Only immanent object.” dies ist nicht ohne ein Vorgestelltes, das ist: ohne ein immanentes Objekt da, sei dies nun draußen vorhanden oder nicht.”

Elsewhere (appendix to 1911 edition): “Ganz anders ist es dagegen bei der psychischen Beziehung. Denkt einer etwas, so muß zwar das Denkende, keineswegs aber das Objekt seines Denkens existieren; ja, wenn er etwas leugnet, ist dies in allen Fällen, wo die Leugnung richtig ist. geradezu ausgeschlossen.” When he says that the object of the thinking need not exist at all, how can he be referring to a Lucifer-content or Lucifer-idea? Clearly that exists in either case, in my mind. The passage only makes sense if the object that “need not exist at all” is Lucifer himself. Likewise for the part about denial. If I deny the existence of Lucifer, I am not denying the existence of a Lucifer-content or Lucifer-idea. I am denying the existence of Lucifer. Do you agree? Of course it is absurd, but the question is a hermeneutical one. What does B mean here?

>Now Brentano could not move in this Meinongian direction because he could not grant that some items do not exist.

That is the one thing that puzzles me. As I commented earlier, Brentano revived the idea (discussed by some of the Scholastics) that being and existence are the same thing, hence he ought not grant that some items do not exist. However, we should not base our hermeneutics on the assumption that a writer cannot contradict himself. It happens, and if we see an apparent contradiction, we should not try to resolve it by pretending that something not contradictory was meant. Note that Brentano-Venn is a thesis about categorical propositions, not relational ones.

Interesting discussion.

>>In that case, according to B, the immanent object is the planet Jupiter, the object that is ‘present outside’. Do you agree?<<

There is an ambiguity here, pace Oz.

1. B says that the immanent object is the planet Jupiter. Do you agree that this is what B. says?

2. B says that the immanent object is the planet Jupiter. Do you agree that what B. says is true?

> 1. B says that the immanent object is the planet Jupiter. Do you agree that this is what B. says?

I agree that this is what he means (he doesn’t say anything about Jupiter).

> 2. B says [i.e. means] that the immanent object is the planet Jupiter. Do you agree that what B. says (means) is true?

Clearly false. He says “Every mental phenomenon includes [enthält: involves, or contains] something as object within itself”, and he means that what it includes is the immanent object, by implication the planet Jupiter. That is clearly absurd, but more later. I am polishing up a draft.

>>That is the one thing that puzzles me. As I commented earlier, Brentano revived the idea (discussed by some of the Scholastics) that being and existence are the same thing, hence he ought not grant that some items do not exist. However, we should not base our hermeneutics on the assumption that a writer cannot contradict himself. It happens, and if we see an apparent contradiction, we should not try to resolve it by pretending that something not contradictory was meant. Note that Brentano-Venn is a thesis about categorical propositions, not relational ones.<<

1. Brentano has no truck with any Thomist-style *distinctio realis.* As I said in my existence book and in my HPQ article, there is, for him, no difference in reality between a thing and its existence. It follows straightaway that nonexistent things are metaphysically impossible. So B cannot go the Meinongian route.

2. And of course there is no difference between Being and existence. Indeed, there is no Being or existence in reality at all distinct from things that are. All there is is the Anerkennung/Verwerfung of Vorstellungen by the psychological ego. Existence/nonexistence becomes a matter of Urteil, judgment. If I recall my HPQ article, this leads to an intolerable psychological idealism.

3. >>However, we should not base our hermeneutics on the assumption that a writer cannot contradict himself. It happens, and if we see an apparent contradiction, we should not try to resolve it by pretending that something not contradictory was meant.<< Your first sentence is plainly true. The second sentence is debatable. Should not a principle of charity guide our exegesis? That being said. I think B does fall into contradciton by failing to distinguish content and object. But Meinong, Husserl and all the rest become entangled in their own difficulties. My considered opinion is that the problems of intentionality are genuine, but insoluble.

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