This paper defends hedonic intentionalism, the view that all pleasures, including bodily pleasures, are directed towards objects distinct from themselves. Brentano is the leading proponent of this view. My goal here is to disentangle his significant proposals from the more disputable ones so as to arrive at a hopefully promising version of hedonic intentionalism. I mainly focus on bodily pleasures, which constitute the main troublemakers for hedonic intentionalism.
Section 1 introduces the problem raised by bodily pleasures for hedonic intentionalism and some of the main reactions to it. Sections 2 and 3 rebut two main approaches equating bodily pleasures with non- intentional episodes. More precisely, section 2 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be purely non-intentional self-conscious feelings, by relying on Brentano’s objection to Hamilton’s theory of pleasure. Section 3 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be non-intentional sensory qualities by relying on Brentano’s objections to Stumpf’s theory of pleasure. Section 4 develops a brentanian view of the intentionality of bodily pleasures by claiming bodily pleasures are directed at a sui generis class of sensory qualities. Section 5 presents an objection to Brentano’s later theory of pleasure according to which all sensory pleasures are directed at sensing acts.