The Formal Structure of the Intentional: A Metaphysical Study
Brentano Studien 1:11-18 (1989)
What is the metaphysical significance of what Brentano has shown us about intentionality? It is the fact that intentional phenomena have logical or structural features that are not shared by what is not psychological. It was typical of British empiricism, particularly that of Hume, to suppose that consciousness is essentially sensible. The objects of consciousness were thought to be primarily such objects as sensations and their imagined or dreamed counterparts. In the Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt, Brentano makes clear that intentional phenomena need not be sensible. He is aware that, even if intentional phenomena are always accompanied by sensible or sensational phenomena, they are not themselves sensational or sensible phenomena. And the presence of certain intentional attitudes is at least as certain and indubitable for us as is the presence of our sensations. If I make a certain judgment or ask myself a certain question, then I can know directly and immediately that I make that judgment or ask that question. (This is not to say, of course, that every intentional attitude may be the object of such certainty. Perhaps there is a sense in which you may be said to like or to dislike a certain thing without realizing that you like or dislike that thing.) If I can know directly and immediately that I am making a certain judgment, then, I can know what it is to make such a judgment. And if I know what it is to make a judgment, then, in making the judgment I can know directly and immediately that there is a certain individual thing - namely, the one who makes the judgment. Arid I, of course, am the one who makes my judgments and does my thinking. The same is true, obviously, of my other intentional activities - such activities as wondering, fearing, hoping, desiring, considering, liking and disliking.
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