Brentano and the parts of the mental: a mereological approach to phenomenal intentionality

Abstract
In this paper, I explore one particular dimension of Brentano’s legacy, namely, his theory of mental analysis. This theory has received much less attention in recent literature than the intentionality thesis or the theory of inner perception. However, I argue that it provides us with substantive resources in order to conceptualize the unity of intentionality and phenomenality. My proposal is to think of the connection between intentionality and phenomenality as a certain combination of part/whole relations rather than as a supervenience or identity relation. To begin, I discuss some reasons for being a (neo-)Brentanian about the mind and briefly introduce the main characteristics of Brentano’s internalist description program. Then, I turn to the current “inseparatist” way of dealing with intentionality and phenomenality, focusing on the demand for unity coming from advocates of phenomenal intentionality. I suggest that the unity of the mind may be put in a new light if we put aside metaphysical–epistemological questions, go back to Brentano’s description program, and endorse his thesis that the mental is something unified in which various parts must be distinguished. In the last section, I draw some lessons from this approach, holding that, for any representational content R, R is (in Brentano’s terms) an abstractive or “distinctional” part of the relevant state and that, for any qualitative aspect Q, Q is an abstractive or “distinctional” part of the relevant representational content R
Keywords Intentionality  Phenomenality  Inseparatism  Description
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-012-9293-8
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Intentionality.John Searle - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume - 1739/2000 - Oxford University Press.
The Intrinsic Quality of Experience.Gilbert Harman - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:31-52.

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