Edited by Robert Rupert (University of Colorado, Boulder)
About this topic
Summary Intentionality is a property possessed by representational states or states with content or meaning, their property of being about something. Mental states appear most prominently among the inventory of intentional items, being directed toward such varied objects as historical events, people, and numbers. When a person believes that Hitler led the Nazis, her belief is about Hitler and about the Nazis. Philosophical work on intentionality ranges from phenomenological investigations of the experience of having thoughts about objects -- including nonexistent ones -- to investigations of the semantics of sentences used to attribute mental states, to the physical or causal determinants of the semantic values of mental representations. This category subsumes work in all of these areas, as well as work in cognitive science on concepts, symbolic representations, and mental images and work in consciousness studies on the intentionality of phenomenal states (such as the what-it's-like to see red).
Key works As part of a proposal for distinguishing the subject matter of psychology from that of the physical sciences, Franz Brentano (Brentano 1874) claimed that intentionality is the mark of the mental and is present in mental states themselves (not a function of their relation to something beyond the psychological realm). Although this focus on internally accessible intentional objects may have comported well enough with the introspectionist psychology of Brentano's day and may have grounded rich phenomenological projects (e.g., Husserl 1980), the rise of behaviorist psychology tended, in the Anglophone world of analytic philosophy, to work against Brentano's approach and its close cousins. Instead, many of the most influential English-language works of the twentieth century marginalized or re-interpreted intentional claims (Ryle 1949, Quine 1956). Later parts of the twentieth century, however, saw the cognitivist revolution in the empirical study of the mind and the widespread rejection of philosophical behaviorism, and these developments led to renewed interest in mental representation and, accordingly, in intentionality, particularly in the promise that we might best understand intentionality as a physical, scientifically respectable phenomenon. Thus began efforts to "naturalize" intentionality, by grounding it in information-related, nomic, causal, or evolutionary facts (Dretske 1981Fodor 1990, and Millikan 1984 provide exemplary efforts of these sorts). Recent years have seen attempts to locate intentionality closer to where Brentano and the phenomenologists envisioned, as something directly experienced in, or as an intrinsic property of, conscious thought (see, e.g., Horgan & Tienson 2002, Kriegel 2007).
Introductions Rupert 2008Fodor 1985Adams & Aizawa 2010Crane 1998Margolis & Laurence 1999
Related categories
History/traditions: Intentionality

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Material to categorize
  1. Words and Images. [REVIEW]C. P. A. - 1958 - Review of Metaphysics 11 (3):517-517.
  2. Présentation.N. G. A. & C. L. - 2004 - Diogène 208 (4):2.
  3. Individuation and Explanation in Cognitive Psychology.Andrew Lee Aavatsmark - 1999 - Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
    Individualism is the view that psychological kinds must be defined only in terms of the internal properties of individual subjects. The argument for this view is that anything external to the individual cannot have any causal explanatory relevance to that individual's behavior. This assumes that to be scientific, psychology must individuate mental states by causally relevant properties. But I argue first, that this rules out individuating them by any sort of representational content. Second, if taken seriously, it entails that only (...)
  4. Gilles Fauconnier, Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in Natural Language.B. Abbott - 1996 - Minds and Machines 6:239-242.
  5. Myles Brand and Robert M. Harnish, Eds., The Representation of Knowledge and Belief Reviewed By.William Abbott - 1987 - Philosophy in Review 7 (9):343-345.
  6. The Apparent Intentionality of Living Beings and the Game of Content.Katerina Abramova & Mario Villalobos - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (3):651-668.
    Hutto and Satne, Philosophia propose to redefine the problem of naturalizing semantic content as searching for the origin of content instead of attempting to reduce it to some natural phenomenon. The search is to proceed within the framework of Relaxed Naturalism and under the banner of teleosemiotics which places Ur-intentionality at the source of content. We support the proposed redefinition of the problem but object to the proposed solution. In particular, we call for adherence to Strict Naturalism and replace teleosemiotics (...)
  7. On Knowledge Representation in Belief Networks.Bruce Abramson - 1991 - In B. Bouchon-Meunier, R. R. Yager & L. A. Zadeh (eds.), Uncertainty in Knowledge Bases. Springer. pp. 86--96.
  8. Attitudes, Content and Identity: A Dynamic View.Juan J. Acero - 1996 - In J. Ezquerro A. Clark (ed.), Philosophy and Cognitive Science: Categories, Consciousness, and Reasoning. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 135--158.
  9. Burge. 2010. Origins of Objectivity.Juan José Acero - unknown
  10. Présentation.Gilbert Achcar - 2003 - Actuel Marx 1 (1):7-10.
  11. Natural Kinds, Concepts, and Propositional Attitudes.Diana Ackerman - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):469-486.
  12. Thinking About an Object: Comments on Pollock.Diana Ackerman - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):501-508.
  13. Opacity In Belief Structures.Robert Ackermann - 1972 - Journal of Philosophy 69 (February):55-67.
  14. LOS EFECTOS DE LA "INTENTIO" COMO ACTO VOLITIVO EN LAS PASIONES HUMANAS SEGÚN TOMÁS DE AQUINO.Miguel Acosta - 2013 - In J. L. Fuertes Herreros (ed.), La teoría filosófica de las pasiones y las virtudes. De la Filosofía Antigua al Humanismo Escolástico Ibérico. Textos e estudos de Filosofía Medieval, 6. Ribeirão (Portugal): Ediçoes Húmus. pp. 61-80.
    El estudio acerca de la influencia de las pasiones en el voluntario libre ha sido recurrente en la tradición tomista. Sin embargo, las causas de los dos efectos psicológicos de la intentio volitiva mencionados por Tomás de Aquino, la redundantia y la distractio, pasaron desapercibidas, y podrían aclarar algunos comportamientos consecuencia de la dinámica de las pasiones del hombre. La acción de la intentio volitiva originada por los afectos, al alcanzar cierto grado de intensidad, puede llegar a sobrepasar el control (...)
  15. LA INTENCIONALIDAD EN MARITAIN Y HUSSERL.Miguel Acosta - 2013 - Notes and Documents (25-26):20-26.
    La teoría de la intentio hoy conocida como “intencionalidad” había pasado desapercibida en la filosofía moderna y fue recuperada por Brentano, pero sobre todo fue puesta de relieve por Husserl, quien se apoyó en ella como uno de los elementos básicos de su fenomenología. Sin embargo, en esta corriente la intencionalidad perdió su sentido clásico. Así lo pone de manifiesto Jacques Maritain en su gnoseología. ¿Por qué Husserl cambia el sentido del concepto?, ¿cuál es la crítica principal de Maritain a (...)
  16. LA INTENTIO COMO CLAVE DE LA TRANSOBJETIVIDAD DE LA INTELIGENCIA EN LA FILOSOFÍA REALISTA / The Intentio as key to the transobjectivity of intelligence in the realist Philosophy.Miguel Acosta - 2011 - In Manuel Oriol (ed.), Filosofía de la Inteligencia. Madrid, Spain: CEU Ediciones. pp. 79-102.
    Uno de los temas fundamentales de la filosofía realista es la intentio. Este concepto surgió en la filosofía árabe a partir de la idea aristotélica que explica la posibilidad del alma de apropiarse de las formas de las cosas. La intentio es el vínculo referencial entre la realidad y el intelecto en el acto de conocer. En la primera parte del artículo se hace una revisión conceptual del término con especial énfasis en Avicena y Averroes; y en la segunda parte (...)
  17. Rock Beats Scissors: Historicalism Fights Back.F. Adams & K. Aizawa - 1997 - Analysis 57 (4):273-281.
  18. Consciousness and Intentionality.Laird Addis - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (2).
  19. Ryle and Intentionality.Laird Addis - 2009 - Metaphysica 10 (1):49-63.
    After some opening comments on how I think one should approach the philosophy of mind, I look at what relatively little Gilbert Ryle had to say explicitly about intentionality, that occurring almost exclusively in his several papers on phenomenology. Then, I discuss the notion of intentionality with respect to the doctrines of The Concept of Mind, although neither the word nor the idea, strictly speaking, appears anywhere in the book. Following more exposition of my own views, including an argument I (...)
  20. Natural Signs.Laird Addis - 1983 - Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):543 - 568.
  21. Intentionality in Brentano.Frederick J. Adelmann - 1964 - Modern Schoolman 41 (4):375-383.
  22. Intentionality and Immateriality.Mortimer J. Adler - 1967 - New Scholasticism 41 (3):312-344.
  23. Présentation.Hicham-Stéphane Afeissa - 2006 - Philosophie 90 (2):3.
  24. Defending Non-Derived Content.Ken Aizawa & Fred Adams - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (6):661-669.
  25. A Question of Content.Kathleen Akins - 2002 - In Andrew Brook & Don Ross (eds.), Daniel Dennett. Cambridge University Press. pp. 206.
  26. Of Sensory Systems and the "Aboutness" of Mental States.Kathleen Akins - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (7):337.
  27. On Piranhas, Narcissism and Mental Representation: An Essay on Intentionality and Naturalism.Kathleen Alison Akins - 1989 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    This dissertation is motivated by the following question: Is the portrayal of mind/brain processes as representations--as entities that in some sense reflect, correspond with, or symbolize the world--particularily apt? Through detailed examples from the neuroscientific literature, with an emphasis on sensory processing, I argue that this way of viewing brain functioning is typically misleading. It depicts neural functioning as a bipartite process: first the production of a set of neural "calibrational" states with properties in the world, and then their interpretation (...)
  28. Meaning Without Mind.V. C. Aldrich - 1934 - Philosophical Review 43 (6):607-619.
  29. Can Representations Be Identical with Anything?Virgil C. Aldrich - 1981 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 41 (3):401-404.
  30. Mental Activity in Willing and in Ideas.S. Alexander - 1908 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 9:1 - 40.
  31. Mental Content.Colin Allen - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (4):537-553.
    Daniel Dennett and Stephen Stich have independently, but similarly, argued that the contents of mental states cannot be specified precisely enough for the purposes of scientific prediction and explanation. Dennett takes this to support his view that the proper role for mentalistic terms in science is heuristic. Stich takes it to support his view that cognitive science should be done without reference to mental content at all. I defend a realist understanding of mental content against these attacks by Dennett and (...)
  32. Attributing Intentional States to Animals: Philosophical Issues Arising in Cognitive Ethology.Colin Frederick Allen - 1989 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    The naturalistic theory of mind that arises from ethology is faced with the question of continuity between human mind and animal mind. In particular, the applicability of intentional, mentalistic terms to animals arises. I argue that cognitive ethologists can and should operate with a realistic conception of intentional states in animals. ;I start by considering arguments claiming to show that the attribution of intentional states presents special difficulties in the case of animals, because the contents of such states cannot be (...)
  33. Intentionality, Social Play, and Definition.Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff - 1994 - Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):63-74.
    Social play is naturally characterized in intentional terms. An evolutionary account of social play could help scientists to understand the evolution of cognition and intentionality. Alexander Rosenberg (1990) has argued that if play is characterized intentionally or functionally, it is not a behavioral phenotype suitable for evolutionary explanation. If he is right, his arguments would threaten many projects in cognitive ethology. We argue that Rosenberg's arguments are unsound and that intentionally and functionally characterized phenotypes are a proper domain for ethological (...)
  34. Présentation.Éric Alliez - 2006 - Multitudes 2 (2):13-17.
  35. Dretske's Dreadful Question.Robert Almeder - 1995 - Philosophia 24 (3-4):449-457.
  36. Representation, Representativeness, and Non-Representational Art.Charles Altieri - 2001 - In Ananta Charana Sukla (ed.), Art and Representation: Contributions to Contemporary Aesthetics. Praeger. pp. 243.
  37. Immortality, Identity, and Desirability.Roman Altshuler - 2015 - In Michael Cholbi (ed.), Immortality and the Philosophy of Death. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 191-203.
    Williams’s famous argument against immortality rests on the idea that immortality cannot be desirable, at least for human beings, and his contention has spawned a cottage industry of responses. As I will intend to show, the arguments over his view rest on both a difference of temperament and a difference in the sense of desire being used. The former concerns a difference in whether one takes a forward-looking or a backward-looking perspective on personal identity; the latter a distinction between our (...)
  38. Wittgenstein on Intentionality.Erich Ammereller - 1995
  39. Proceedings of IACAP 2016.Cristina Amoretti, Marcello Frixione, Antonio Lieto & Greta Adamo - forthcoming
  40. Intentionality, Time, and Self-Identity: Husserl's Theory of Time and the Problem of Personal Identity.Se-Gweon An - 1990 - Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
    In this dissertation I raise three questions: What is Husserl's theory of time?; Can we develop a particular thesis of self-identity and, if so, what would it look like?; How does the thesis work in relation to the problems that are to be solved? ;In chapter II, I give an exposition of Husserl's view on time with the purpose of establishing a framework that will play a decisive role in the formation of a thesis of self-identity. Husserl defines time as (...)
  41. Degrees of Intensionality.C. Anthony Anderson - 1994 - In Ulla Wessels & Georg Meggle (eds.), Analyomen / Analyomen: Proceedings of the 1st Conference "Perspectives in Analytical Philosophy". De Gruyter. pp. 411-420.
  42. Présentation.Jaynie Anderson - 2010 - Diogène 231 (3):3.
  43. Representation as the Representation of Experience.F. R. Ankersmit - 2000 - Metaphilosophy 31 (1-2):148-168.
    This essay deals, mainly, with the notion of representation. Representation is associated with texts and, as such, is contrasted to the true singular statement. It is argued that the relationship between the text and what the text represents can never be modeled on the relationship between a true singular statement and what the statement is true of, and, furthermore, that the former relationship is aesthetic while the latter is epistemological in nature. This aesthetic relationship between the represented and its representation (...)
  44. Intention and Intentionality: Essays in Honour of G. E. M. Anscombe.G. E. M. Anscombe, Cora Diamond & Jenny Teichman (eds.) - 1979 - Cornell University Press.
  45. Franz Brentano’s Intentionality Thesis.Mauro Antonelli - 2012 - In A. Salice (ed.), Intentionality: Historical and Systematic Perspectives. Philosophia Verlag.
  46. Cummins, R., "Meaning and Menta,L Representation". [REVIEW]L. Antony - 1990 - Mind 99:637.
  47. Consciousness, Content, and Cognitive Architecture.Michael Verne Antony - 1990 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    This thesis consists of three essays in the philosophy of mind. Essay 1 contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing whatever on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments which appear, on the surface, to (...)
  48. Thoughts: An Essay on Content.Anthony Appiah & Christopher Peacocke - 1989 - Philosophical Review 98 (1):110.
  49. Peacocke's Thoughts.Richard E. Aquila - 1987 - Inquiry 30 (1 & 2):195 – 205.
  50. "Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind" by John R. Searle. [REVIEW]Richard E. Aquila - 1985 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46 (1):159.
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