Husserl's Theory of Intentionality

Philosophia 34 (1):24-49 (2005)
Abstract
This essay is a critical examination of how Edmund Husserl, in his appropriation of Franz Brentano’s concept of intentionality into his phenomenology, deals with the very issues that shaped Brentano’s theory of intentionality. These issues concern the proper criterion for distinguishing mental from physical phenomena and the right explanation for the independence of the intentionality of mental phenomena from the existence or non-existence of their objects. Husserl disagrees with Brentano’s views that intentionality is the distinguishing feature of all mental phenomena and that the mental status of intentional objects is what explains the said independence. The crucial concept in Husserl’s theory of intentionality is the noema of consciousness, which functions in the same way as Gottlob Frege’s sense in his theory of semantics. This essay argues that Husserl’s alternative solutions to the problems of Brentano run in conflict either with the desired rigor of his phenomenology or with the actual workings of language.
Keywords intentionalism  Edmund Husserl  Franz Brentano  phenomenology  noema  intentionality  consciousness
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