Moods and emotions are sometimes thought to be counterexamples to intentionalism, the view that a mental state's phenomenal features are exhausted by its representational features. The problem is that moods and emotions are accompanied by phenomenal experiences that do not seem to be adequately accounted for by any of their plausibly represented contents. This paper develops and defends an intentionalist view of the phenomenal character of moods and emotions on which emotions and some moods represent intentional objects as having (...) sui generis affective properties, which happen to be uninstantiated, and at least some moods represent affective properties not bound to any objects. (shrink)
According to intentionalism, phenomenal properties are identical to, supervenient on, or determined by representational properties. Intentionalism faces a special challenge when it comes to accounting for the phenomenal character of moods. First, it seems that no intentionalist treatment of moods can capture their apparently undirected phenomenology. Second, it seems that even if we can come up with a viable intentionalist account of moods, we would not be able to motivate it in some of the same kinds of ways (...) that intentionalism about other kinds of states can be motivated. In this article, I respond to both challenges: First, I propose a novel intentionalist treatment of moods on which they represent unbound affective properties. Then, I argue that this view is indirectly supported by the same kinds of considerations that directly support intentionalism about other mental states. (shrink)
According to the dominant view, the later Wittgenstein identified the meaning of an expression with its use in the language and vehemently rejected any kind of mentalism or intentionalism about linguistic meaning. I argue that the dominant view is wrong. The textual evidence, which has either been misunderstood or overlooked, indicates that at least since the Blue Book Wittgenstein thought speakers' intentions determine the contents of linguistic utterances. His remarks on use are only intended to emphasize the heterogeneity of (...) natural language. Taking into account remarks written after he finished the Investigations, I show how Wittgenstein anticipated the basic tenets of Gricean intention-based semantics. These are, in particular, the distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘non-natural’ meaning and the distinction between what a speaker means by an utterance and what the expression uttered means in the speaker’s natural language. Importantly, Wittgenstein also believed that only the meaning of the speaker determined the content of ambiguous expressions, such as ‘bank’, on a particular occasion of utterance. (shrink)
I argue that the transparency of experience provides the basis of arguments both for intentionalism -- understood as the view that there is a necessary connection between perceptual content and perceptual phenomenology -- and for the view that the contents of perceptual experiences are Russellian propositions. While each of these views is popular, there are apparent tensions between them, and some have thought that their combination is unstable. In the second half of the paper, I respond to these worries (...) by arguing that Russellianism is consistent with intentionalism, that their conjunction is consistent with both internalism about phenomenology and externalism about perceptual content, and that the resulting view receives independent support from the relationship between hallucination and thought. (shrink)
Many alleged counter-examples to intentionalism, the thesis that the phenomenology of perceptual experiences of a given sense modality supervenes on the contents of experiences of that modality, can be avoided by adopting a liberal view of the sorts of properties that can be represented in perceptual experience. I argue that there is a class of counter-examples to intentionalism, based on shifts in attention, which avoids this response. A necessary connection between the contents and phenomenal characters of perceptual experiences (...) can be preserved by distinguishing perceptual phenomenology from the phenomenology of attention; but even if this distinction is viable, these cases put pressure on the thesis that phenomenal character can, in general, be explained in terms of mental representation. (shrink)
It is commonplace to speak of social groups as if they were capable of the same sorts of activities as individuals. We say, “Germany won the World Cup”; “The United States invaded Iraq”; and “The world mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela”. In so doing, we attribute agency, belief, and emotional states to groups themselves. In recent years, much literature devoted to analyzing such statements and their implications has emerged. Within this literature, the issue of “intentionalism,” whether individuals must (...) have a certain self-conception in order to constitute a collectivity, has received surprisingly little attention. While Paul Sheehy has criticized this view, claiming that individuals may be related in such a way as to constitute a collective without their realizing it :377–394, 2002), little other scholarship on the topic exists. The purpose of this article is to contribute to this debate. I will argue, drawing on Edith Stein’s phenomenology of social groups, that intentionalism, as Margaret Gilbert defines it, is false. I begin by establishing Gilbert’s account, Sheehy’s criticism of intentionalism, and what I take to be its shortcomings. I then explicate Stein’s phenomenology of collectives and argue that plural subjects who do not meet intentionalist requirements can exist. Given this, intentionalism must be rejected. Because the intentionalism debate presupposes that there are irreducibly social agents, I do not argue for this claim. (shrink)
The pain case can appear to undermine the radically intentionalist view that the phenomenal character of any experience is entirely constituted by its representational content. That appearance is illusory, I argue. After categorising versions of pain intentionalism along two dimensions, I argue that an “objectivist” and “non-mentalist” version is the most promising, provided it can withstand two objections: concerning what we say when in pain, and the distinctiveness of the pain case. I rebut these objections, in a way that’s (...) available to both opponents and adherents of the view that experiential content is entirely conceptual. In doing so I illuminate peculiarities of somatosensory perception that should interest even those who take a different view of pain experiences. (shrink)
There has been much written in recent years about whether a pair of subjects could have visual experiences that represented the colors of objects in their environment in precisely the same way, despite differing significantly in what it was like to undergo them, differing that is, in their qualitative character. The possibility of spectrum inversion has been so much debated1 in large part because of the threat that it would pose to the more general doctrine of Intentionalism, according to (...) which the representational content of an experience fixes what it. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that the existence of sorites series of color patches – series of color patches arranged so that the patches on each end look different in color though no two adjacent patches do – shows that the relation of same phenomenal character as is not a transitive relation. I then argue that the intransitivity of same phenomenal character as conflicts with certain versions of intentionalism, the view that an experiences phenomenal character is exhausted, or fully (...) determined by its intentional content. Lastly, I consider various objections to the arguments and reply to them. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers of history and interpretation theorists very often deny the thesis of intentional realism, because they reject intentionalism or the thesis that an agent's or author's intentions are relevant for the interpretive practice of the human sciences. I will defend intentional realism by showing why it is wrong to whole-heartedly reject intentionalism and by clarifying the logical relation between intentionalism and intentional realism. I will do so by discussing the two central arguments against intentionalism; the (...) argument from the perspective of narrative anti-realism and the epistemic argument focusing on the fact that an agent's or author's intentions are not epistemically accessible in a direct manner. In particular, I will show that the fact that historians write narratives does add a level of complexity as far as the giving of explanations of individual actions are concerned. Yet it does not follow that the explanatory power of a full fledged historical narrative can be understood as being completely independent of our folk psychological account of individual agency. Accordingly, we should also be prepared to accept a methodological distinction between the human and the natural sciences as long as the human sciences use the folk psychological framework for explanatory purposes, since it is only in the former that empathy plays an epistemically central role. I however do not claim that empathy is the only method of the human sciences nor do I claim that all interpretive disputes can be settled merely in light of our empathic capacities. (shrink)
According to intentionalism, perceptual experience is a mental state with representational content. When it comes to the epistemology of perception, it is only natural for the intentionalist to hold that the justificatory role of experience is at least in part a function of its content. In this paper, I argue that standard versions of intentionalism trying to hold on to this natural principle face what I call the “defeasibility problem”. This problem arises from the combination of standard (...) class='Hi'>intentionalism with further plausible principles governing the epistemology of perception: that experience provides defeasible justification for empirical belief, and that such justification is best construed as probabilification. After exploring some ways in which the standard intentionalist could deal with the defeasibility problem, I argue that the best option is to replace standard intentionalism by what I call “phenomenal intentionalism”. Where standard intentionalism construes experiences as of p as having the content p, phenomenal intentionalism construes experiences as of p as having “phenomenal” or “looks contents”: contents of the form Lp. (shrink)
According to a popular doctrine known as "intentionalism," two experiences must have different representational contents if they have different phenomenological contents, in other words, what they represent must differ if what they feel like differs. Were this position correct, the representational significance of a given affect (or 'quale'---plural 'qualia'--to use the preferred term), e.g. a tickle, would be fixed: what it represented would not be a function of the subject's beliefs, past experiences, or other facts about his past or (...) present psychological condition. To be sure, many a quale has a significance; but it is never a quale's intrinsic properties that assign it that significance, it being quale-external facts about the subject's psychological composition that do so. (An example of such a fact would be a belief on the subject's part to the effect that relevantly similar qualia are consistent with arthritis.). (shrink)
Building on Crane’s intentionalism, the paper proposes a variant of response-dependentist view of colors. To be of a color C is to have a disposition to cause in normal observers a response, namely, intentional phenomenal C-experience. The view is dubbed “response-intentionalism”. It follows from the following considerations, with the red of a tomato surface taken as an example of color C. Full phenomenal red is being visaged as being on the surface of the tomato. Science tells us that (...) full phenomenal red is not on the surface of the tomato. Equally, full phenomenal red is not a property of subjective state but its intentional object. Response-intentionalism follows by considerations of charity, i.e. minimizing and rationalizing the error of the cognizer, and of inference to the best explanation: being red in scientific sense is being such as to cause the response visaging phenomenal red in normal observers under normal circumstances. (shrink)
According to reductive intentionalism, the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is constituted by the experience's intentional (or representational) content. The goal of this article is to show that a phenomenon in visual perception called change blindness poses a problem for this doctrine. It is argued, in particular, that phenomenal character is not sensitive, as it should be if reductive intentionalism is correct, to fine-grained variations in content. The standard anti-intentionalist strategy is to adduce putative cases in which (...) phenomenal character varies despite sameness of content. This paper explores an alternative anti-intentionalist tack, arguing, by way of a specific example involving change blindness, that content can vary despite sameness of phenomenal character. (shrink)
Historiographic debates keep returning to issues of authorial intention in the interpretation of texts. This paper offers a response to these debates by differentiating between two versions of intentionalism, termed 'substantive intentionalism' and 'formal intentionalism', according to two different senses of 'identity' in the thesis that assigned meaning is identified with authorial intention, such that these two versions of intentionalism imply different ontological commitments to what are construed as the relevant authorial intentions. These distinctions and arguments (...) are then related to the 'historical intentionalism' of Quentin Skinner and Mark Bevir. The paper argues that in practice historical intentionalism ends up reproducing the arguments of formal intentionalism, and it concludes by raising questions about the value of intentionalism for historians. (shrink)
Throughout his discussion, Clark speaks constantly of phenomenal and qualitative properties. But properties, like any other posited entities, ought to earn their explanatory keep, and this I don't think Clark's phenomenal or qualitative properties actually do. I argue that all the work he enlists for them could be done better by purely intentional contents of our sentient states; that is, they could better be regarded as mere intentional properties, not real ones. Clark eschews such intentionalism, but I see no (...) reason for him to resist a properly deflated version of it that I sketch. Moreover, such intentionalism seems to me to stand a better chance than Clark's reliance on properties in explaining the peculiar ways in which experience appears to us that so concern the qualiaphile. (shrink)
Intentionalism must be distinguished from computational psychology. The former is a mentalist-realist metatheoretical stance vis-a-vis the latter, which is a research programme devoted to the construction of informationally-characterized simulation models for human behavior, perception, cognition, etc. Intentionalism has its attractive aspects, but unfortunately it is plagued by severe conceptual difficulties. Recent attempts to justify the intentionalist interpretation of computational models, by J.A. Fodor and by C. Graves, J.J. Katz et al., fail to secure a conceptually adequate and genuinely (...) intentional sense for the intentional idiom they employ. (shrink)
The dominant view of twentieth-century analytic philosophy has been that all thinking is always in a language, that languages are vehicles of thought. The same view has been widespread in continental philosophy as well. In recent decades, however, the opposite view—that languages serve merely to express language-independent thought-contents or propositions—has been more widely accepted. The debate has a direct equivalent in the philosophy of history: when historians report the beliefs of historical figures, do they report the sentences or propositions that (...) these historical figures believed to be true or false? In this paper I argue in favor of the latter, intentionalist, view. My arguments center mostly on the problems with translation that are likely to arise when a historian reports the beliefs of historical figures who expressed them in a language other than the one in which the historian is writing. In discussing these problems the paper presents an application of John Searle’s theory of intentionality to the philosophy of history. (shrink)
The central and defining characteristic of thoughts is that they have objects. The object of a thought is what the thought concerns, or what it is about. Since there cannot be thoughts which are not about anything, or which do not concern anything, there cannot be thoughts without objects. Mental states or events or processes which have objects in this sense are traditionally called ‘intentional,’ and ‘intentionality’ is for this reason the general term for this defining characteristic of thought. Under (...) the heading of ‘thought’ we can include many different kinds of mental apprehension of an object—including relatively temporary episodes of contemplating or scrutinising, as well as persisting states like beliefs and hopes which are not similarly episodic in character. These are all ways of thinking about an object. But even construing ‘thought’ in this broad way, it is clear that not all mental states and events are thoughts: sensations, emotions and perceptual experiences are not thoughts, but they are also paradigmatically mental. Do these mental states and events have objects too? Or are there mental states and events which have no objects? (shrink)
Emotions are Janus-faced: their focus may switch from how a person is feeling deep inside her, to the busy world of actions, words, or gestures whose perception currently affects her. The intimate relation between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ seems to call for a redrawing of the traditional distinction of mental states between those that can look out to the world, and those that are, supposedly, irredeemably blind.
Paisley Livingston claims that an artist’s intentions are successfully realized and hence determinate of the meaning of a work if and only if they are compatible and “mesh” with the linguistic and conventional meanings of the text or artefact taken in its target or intended context. I argue that this specific standard of success is not without its difficulties. First, I show how an artist’s intention can sometimes be constitutive of a work’s meaning even if there is no significant meshing (...) between the artist’s intention and his work. Second, I argue against the claim that the artist’s intentions need to be compatible with the linguistic and conventional meanings of a text. Third, I discuss a case that creates a particular puzzle for Livingston since the intentions of the artist concerned are clearly not successfully realized, though they are compatible and mesh with all the relevant data. I conclude my paper by suggesting a solution to this puzzle. (shrink)
Intentionalism about demonstratives is the view that the referent of a demonstrative is determined solely by the speaker's intentions. Intentionalists can disagree about the nature of these intentions, but are united in rejecting the relevance of other factors, such as the speaker's gestures, her gaze, and any facts about the addressee or the audience. In this paper, I formulate a particular version of this view, and I defend it against six objections, old and new.
Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenological properties of a perceptual experience supervene on its intentional properties. The paper presents a counterexample to this claim, one that concerns visual grouping phenomenology. I argue that this example is superior to super?cially similar examples involving grouping phenomenology offered by Peacocke (1983), because the standard intentionalist responses to Peacocke.
According to intentionalism, the phenomenal character of experience is one and the same as the intentional content of experience. This view has a problem with moods (anxiety, depression, elation, irritation, gloominess, grumpiness, etc.). Mood experiences certainly have phenomenal character, but do not exhibit directedness, i.e., do not appear intentional. Standardly, intentionalists have re-described moods’ undirectedness in terms of directedness towards everything or the whole world (e.g., Crane, 1998; Seager, 1999). This move offers the intentionalist a way out, but is (...) quite unsatisfying. More recently, Angela Mendelovici (2013a, b) has suggested something that looks more interesting and promising: instead of re-describing moods’ phenomenology, she accepts its undirectedness at face value and tries to explain it in intentionalist terms. In this paper, I focus on and criticize Mendelovici’s proposal. As I will show, despite its prima facie virtues, the view is poorly motivated. For, contrary to what Mendelovici argues, introspection does not support her proposal—arguably, it provides some evidence against it. So, the problem that intentionalism has with moods is not solved, but is still there. (shrink)
I argue that intentionalist theories of perceptual experience are unable to explain the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. I begin by describing what is involved in explaining phenomenal character, and why it is a task of philosophical theories of perceptual experience to explain it. I argue that reductionist versions of intentionalism are unable to explain the phenomenal character of perceptual experience because they mischaracterize its nature; in particular, they fail to recognize the sensory nature of experience’s phenomenal character. I (...) argue that nonreductionist versions of intentionalism are unable to explain the phenomenal character of perceptual experience because, although they recognize its sensory nature, they mislocate it. (shrink)
I argue against such "Relation Intentionalist" theories of consciousness as the higher-order thought and inner sense views on the grounds that they understand a subject's awareness of his or her phenomenal characters to be intentional, like seeming-seeing, rather than "direct", like seeing. The trouble with such views is that they reverse the order of explanation between phenomenal character and intentional awareness. A superior theory of consciousness, based on views expressed by Russell and Price, takes the relation of awareness to be (...) a nonintentional "acquaintance". (shrink)
This paper discusses Husserl’s theory of intentionality and compares it to contemporary debates about intentionalism. I first show to what extent such a comparison could be meaningful. I then outline the structure of intentionality as found in Ideas I. My main claims are that – in contrast with intentionalism – intentionality for Husserl covers just a region of conscious contents; that it is essentially a relation between act-processes and presented content; and that the side of act-processes contains non-representational (...) contents. In the third part, I show that Husserl also offers resources against intentionalism’s exclusive concern with propositional content. (shrink)
I here defend hypothetical intentionalism, the view of literary and cinematic interpretation that I endorse, from some recent criticisms, and then illustrate the appeal of the view in connection with a recent film of enigmatic cast.
Recent philosophy of mind has seen an increase of interest in theories of intentionality in offering a functional account of mental states. The standard intentionalist view holds that mental states can be exhaustively accounted for in terms of their representational contents. An alternative view proposed by Tim Crane, called impure intentionalism, specifies mental states in terms of intentional content, mode, and object. This view is also suggested to hold for states of sensory awareness. This paper primarily develops an alternative (...) to the impure intentionalist account of states of sensory awareness. On the basis of Husserl’s phenomenological work, I argue that a focus on intentionality at the level of sensory awareness is phenomenologically implausible. The final part offers an alternative functional account of sensory awareness based on what Husserl called ‘immanent association’. (shrink)
A distinction can be made between those who think that self-deception is frequently intentional and those who don’t. I argue that the idea that self-deception has to be intentional can be partly traced to a particular invalid method for analyzing reflexive expressions of the form ‘Ving oneself’ (where V stands for a verb). However, I take the question of whether intentional self-deception is possible to be intrinsically interesting, and investigate the prospects for such an alleged possibility. Various potential strategies of (...) intentional self-deception are examined in relation to Alfred Mele’s suggestion that doing something intentionally implies doing it knowingly. It is suggested that the best prospects for an intentionalist theory of self-deception lie with a strategy involving the control of attention. (shrink)
Proponents of actual intentionalism hold that an author’s actual intentions should constrain the proper interpretation of his or her works. If, for example, we have good reason to think Proust intends his character Marcel to set out to write a different novel from In Search of Lost Time itself, then that is how we should interpret the text. After decades of being denigrated as the ‘intentional fallacy’, actual intentionalism has enjoyed a renaissance in philosophical aesthetics in recent years, (...) thanks in large part to the image of the conversation that has been enlisted in its favour: when we neglect the author’s intended construal of the text and opt instead for some clever alternative interpretation of our own, we are depriving ourselves of the chance to engage in a conversation (in some metaphorical sense) with this author—and thus are losing the chance (again, in some metaphorical sense) to commune with another human being. In this paper I will raise doubts about whether this appeal to conversation actually helps the actual intentionalist’s case. When we reflect on the essentially interactive nature of any conversation worthy of that name, we see that this conversation metaphor will not deliver the restrictive lesson of actual intentionalism. In fact, it militates against it. (shrink)
This article explores two consequences of intentionalism. My first line of argument focuses on the impact of intentionalism on the 'hard problem' of phenomenal character. If intentionalism is true, the phenomenal supervenes on the intentional. Furthermore, if physicalism about the intentional is also true, the intentional supervenes on the physical. Therefore, if intentionalism and physicalism are both true, then, by transitivity of supervenience, physicalism about the phenomenal is true. I argue that this transitivity argument is not (...) persuasive, because on any interpretation of its central terms, at least one of its premises is as controversial as its conclusion already is. My second line of argument is about the consequences of intentionalism for the error theory of color perception. I suggest that if intentionalism is true, projectivism must be true also, because under this condition there is no single concept of color that can be used for the qualification of objects as well as for the characterization of experiences. (shrink)
Intentionalism debates seek to uncover the relationship between the qualitative aspects of experience—phenomenal character—and the intentionality of the mind. They have been at or near center stage in the philosophy of mind for more than two decades, and in my view need to be reexamined. There are two core distinct intentionalism debates that are rarely distinguished (Sect. 1). Additionally, the characterization of spectrum inversion as involving inverted qualities and constant intentional content is mistaken (Sect. 3). These confusions can (...) be witnessed from an often-ignored and lonely perspective, that of the sense-datum theorist, and in particular of the projectivist (Sect. 2). In my view we have been so wary of sense-datum theory in recent years that we have failed to see that, even if false, it may permit perspectives on intentionalism issues difficult to occupy from other views. (shrink)
This commentary defends intentionalist accounts of self-deception against Mele by arguing that: (1) viewing self-deception on the model of other-deception is not as paradoxical as Mele makes out; (2) the paradoxes are not entailed by the view that self-deception is intentional; and (3) there are two problems for Mele's theory that only an intentionalist theory can solve.
Increasingly prominent in the recent literature on the philosophy of perception, Intentionalism holds that sensory experience is inherently intentional, where to be intentional is to be about, or directed on, something. This article explores Intentionalism's prospects as a viable ontological and epistemological alternative to the traditional trinity of theories of sensory experience: the Sense-Datum Theory, the Adverbial Theory, and the Theory of Appearing.
Intentionalism is the view that statutes should be interpreted in accordance with the intentions of the legislatures that produce them. As a theory of legislative interpretation, intentionalism has been very influential, but it has also been subject to much critical attention. It is claimed that legislatures will seldom have any relevant intentions, and that even if they did, we could not come to know them. I propose a modification of intentionalism that significantly mitigates the severity of these (...) problems. I begin by noting that legislation is seldom (if ever) written by an entire legislature. Instead, it is commonly written by individuals or subgroups acting as proxies on behalf of the legislature. I then argue that the reasons why legislation should be interpreted in accordance with the intentions of legislatures are equally applicable to the intentions of proxies. This is significant because proxies are much more likely to have ascertainable intentions. (shrink)
BRENTANO'S APPROPRIATION OF THE Scholastic notion of intentionality, and of what Brentano called "the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object," was early on exploited in a reading of Kant's theory of objects and appearances. Apparently the first systematic attempt was undertaken by Hans Vaihinger. However, Vaihinger's is radically different from more recent intentionalist readings of Kant. Albeit not in every respect, I propose that a return to this aspect of Vaihinger's approach supports a rewarding advance on such readings. After (...) a general introduction, I survey three instances of the latter—Prauss, Pereboom, and Sellars—in section 2 (and comment on some others in notes throughout). In sections 3 and 4, I then turn to Vaihinger's approach. (shrink)
Intentionalism holds that two experiences differ in their representational content if and only if they differ in phenomenal character. It is generally held that Intentionalism cannot allow for the possibility of spectrum inversion without systematic error, unless it abandons the idea that, for example, the qualitative character of color experience is inherited from the qualitative character of colors. The paper argues that the conjunction of all three -- the possibility of spectrum inversion, Intentionalism, and the inheritance thesis (...) -- can be consistently, and plausibly, accepted. (shrink)
Intentionalism in aesthetics is, quite generally, the thesis that the artist's or artists' intentions have a decisive role in the creation of a work of art, and that knowledge of such intentions is a necessary component of at least some adequate interpretive and evaluative claims. In this paper I develop and defend this thesis. I begin with a discussion of some anti-intentionalist arguments. Surveying a range of intentionalist responses to them, I briefly introduce and criticize a fictionalist version of (...)intentionalism before moving on to an approach I call moderate intentionalism. I consider a salient alternative known as hypothetical intentionalism and try to show why moderate intentionalism should be preferred to it. (shrink)
I argue that intentionalism in aesthetics and in legal interpretation is vulnerable to a different sort of criticism than is found in the voluminous literature on the topic. Specifically, a kind of paradox arises for the intentionalist out of recognition of a second-order intention embedded in the social practices that characterize both art and law. The paper shows how this second-order intention manifests itself in each of the two enterprises, and argues that its presence entails the overriding centrality of (...) the public text, and hence a rejection of the interpretive stance distinctive of intentionalism itself. (shrink)
The general aim of this paper is to establish the plausibility of a postfoundational intentionalism. Its specific aim is to respond to criticisms of my work made by Vivienne Brown in a paper "On Some Problems with Weak Intentionalism for Intellectual History." Postfoundationalism is often associated with a new textualism according to which there is no outside to the text. In contrast, I suggest that postfoundationalists can legitimate our postulating intentions, actions, and other historical objects outside of the (...) text. They can do so by reference to, first, philosophical commitments to general classes of objects, and, second, inference to the best explanation with respect to particular objects belonging to such classes. This postfoundational intentionalism sets up a suitable context within which to address Brown's more specific questions. (shrink)
There are good reasons for wanting to adopt an intentionalist account of experiences generally, an account according to which having an experience is a matter of representing the world as being some way or other—according to which, that is, such mental episodes have intrinsic, conceptual, representational content. Such an approach promises, for example, to provide a satisfying conception of experiences’ subjectivity, their phenomenal character, and their crucial role in constituting reasons for our judgements about the world. It promises this, moreover, (...) without incurring the difficulties that face the adverbialist and the friends of such items as qualia and “private objects”. Still, even many of those who have been persuaded of that much are inclined to make an exception of the bodily sensations, since pains and the rest have traditionally been taken to be peculiarly “blank”—instances of brute, non-conceptual feeling. In this study, I reject that tradition and argue that sensation experiences are indeed representational, and hence not in that respect exceptional. The idea that they are nevertheless distinctive in other ways vis-à-vis ordinary perceptual experiences has led intentionalists such as John McDowell to adopt an account of their content that is both mentalist and radically subjectivist: an account, in other words, that takes the items represented by such experiences to be mental and constitutively dependent on their being represented. To my mind, such subjectivism is both viciously circular—like the parallel view of colours—and at odds with the admirably intentionalist aspirations of these views. Hence I turn to consider objectivist versions of intentionalism, views that assimilate sensations to somatosensory perceptual experiences such as those that inform us of, for example, the position of our own limbs. Admittedly, these views not only risk losing the “interiority” of sensations, but I argue that they also cannot be combined with mentalism and that this generates considerable difficulties—difficulties that have either been ignored or underestimated by those working with less demanding conceptions of content. Nonetheless, I make a number of preliminary moves to show how such difficulties might be dealt with, and how the objectivist can register even the distinctively “inner” character of sensations—by, amongst other things, focussing on the peculiarities of somatosensory content. So the prospects for intentionalism about sensations are, I argue, good. (shrink)
Authorial and artistic declarations would seem to be a boon to interpreters who favor actual intentionalism. However, because they believe there are limits on the power of authors and artists to embody their intentions in their works, moderate actual intentionalists hold that some intentions are irrelevant. Looking closely at authorial declaration about the sexuality of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter novels, I argue in favor of the extreme actual intentionalist position that genuine authorial declarations should not be ignored (...) because authorial intention always determines meaning. The answer to the question in the subtitle is that we do not know with certainty, even though there is a definite right answer. We can argue for the answer we think is most likely, however. And aided by the distinction between meaning and significance, extreme actual intentionalism provides a clear and consistent way of making such arguments while avoiding the problem of being stuck with an interpretation we find aesthetically displeasing. (shrink)