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Thursday, July 22, 2021

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BV: No. Why not? Because Zeus does not exist.

Why can’t the one-place predicate “Jake is thinking of –” be satisfied by something that does not exist?

There remains the question of whether

(1) BV is thinking of the Washington Monument
(2) BV’s mental state has an Intentional Object

imply

(3) The Intentional Object = the Washington Monument

This is a question of logic.

>>Why can’t the one-place predicate “Jake is thinking of –” be satisfied by something that does not exist?<<

Because both relata of the satisfaction relation must exist for the relation to obtain.

If you insist with Meinong that some items do not exist, then you can avoid the satisfaction rigmarole and simply say that thought about the nonexistent is relational, as R. Grossmann maintains. But you don't accept nonexistent items.

>>There remains the question of whether

(1) BV is thinking of the Washington Monument
(2) BV’s mental state has an Intentional Object

imply

(3) The Intentional Object = the Washington Monument

This is a question of logic.<<

It follows, but only if you add the supplementary premise:

(2.5) The intentional object of a mental state is the extramental thing intended in the mental act

OK – my questions were aimed at clarification and no more. We seem to agree on many points, namely that a relational expression does not have to signify a relation, that “thinking about” statements containing empty names can be true. I am also clear (now) on what you mean by ‘intentional object’, and this post from 2011 further clarifies, where you say (January 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM ) that the IO is what appears before your mind when you are thinking. You also say this

“if I am thinking about Peter, I am thinking about him and not about some surrogate intentional object, immanent to the mental act, which somehow mediates between the act and Peter himself. The mental act terminates at Peter and not at an intentional object. Intentionality, after all, is that feature of mental states whereby they refer beyond themselves to items that are neither parts of the mental act nor existentially dependent on the mental act.”

My emphasis. Do you still agree with what you said there?

A further comment, again aimed at clarification, not polemical. The SEP has an article on intentionality suggesting a definition of ‘Intentional Object’.

According to the first thesis [of Brentano], it is constitutive of the phenomenon of intentionality, as it is exhibited by mental states such as loving, hating, desiring, believing, judging, perceiving, hoping and many others, that these mental states are directed towards things different from themselves.
Thus we could define an Intentional Object as “A thing which a mental state is directed towards, but different from it.”

Would you accept that definition? It is not far from your idea of a terminus of a mental act, except that you regard an Intentional Object as something different, namely “some surrogate intentional object, immanent to the mental act, which somehow mediates between the act and [the terminus itself].

Happy to go with whatever definition you like, but previous runs of this discussion have suffered from your complaints about ambiguity.

Thanks for referring to that post from ten years ago. Yes, I still agree with what I said there. Intentionality displays a 'realist thrust': The thing intended (Peter, the Wash. Mon.) is intended as transcendent, as existing, if it does exist, whether or not the act intending it, or any act, exists. (Of course, there is no internally available index of the veridicality of the intentional experience.) What's more, this directedness to the transcendent is an intrinsic feature of the directedness. Thus the directedness is not caused by the transcendent/external thing.

So if the WM ceases to exist while I am thinking about it, the mental directedness to that very thing continues to exist. This implies that we need to distinguish between the thing intended and the thing-AS-intended = the intentional object. The former is transcendent whether or not it exists; the latter is an immanent object of the act that cannot fail to exist as the correlate of the act. The former is completely determinate; the latter is an incomplete object.

So the IO is before my mind both when the WM exists and when it doesn't exist. How is the IO 'related' to the transcendent thing? Is it a representation of the thing? This would seem to contradict what I agreed to earlier, namely that the mental act terminates at the transcendent thing itself and not at an immanent object. Is the IO related to the thing intended as part to whole, along the lines of Castaneda's Guise Theory? Husserl seems to hold this view which leads to idealism. Is the IO something like a Fregean sense?

> This implies that we need to distinguish between the thing intended and the thing-AS-intended = the intentional object.

OK but we still need to agree on a clear definition of ‘Intentional Object’. Here are two other definitions I found.

Tim Crane: what an intentional state is about
Merriam Webster: something whether actually existing or not that the mind thinks about

These are both very clear, and I suggest we adopt them. That is, if BV is thinking about (or ‘of’) the Washington Monument, then the Intentional Object of his thinking is the Washington Monument itself. If the Washington Monument is then blown into a billion pieces by high explosive and the remains scattered to the four points of the US, and it no longer exists, and if we agree that BV is still thinking about the WM, then the Intentional Object is still the WM.

Do you agree with that definition? If not, I will define the term ‘Thought-object’ to mean the object that the person is thinking about, and there is no quarrelling with definitions.

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