Consciousness and Intentionality: Models and Modalities of Attribution

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Where, if not in the way things appear to me, should I experience my melancholy? According to this view, the phenomenologically fundamental is the concretum of world- and object-appearing the Erscheinen - des - Erscheinenden upon which I can abstractively distinguish certain moments which, however, in no way possess any independent existence.

Just like the aforementioned thetic and aspectual moments, the hyletic moment, too, is something that I only find in the given object qua given. Both the act and the hyletic components of consciousness are encompassed by the total phenomenon of appearing-of-something, i.

Consciousness and Intentionality

Thus consciousness-of-pain is intentionality, and consciousness is intentional through and through. Immanent contents are always given temporally, as streaming; and a non-temporal, non-streaming givenness of such contents is not even conceivable. This constitutes something like a primary form of objectivity, a proto-objectivity so to speak, by something being given as the same in changing consciousness and therefore as existentially transcending the respective appearance, even if not appearance as a whole.

Accordingly, already in the givenness of sensations we are dealing with a givenness-as-transcending-this-givenness. We are dealing here with a primal transcendence primal objectivity within immanence subjectivity.


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Hence we can distinguish different levels of transcendence. Immanent data possess an even higher degree of transcendence with regard to re-enacting memories , since the givenness-in-memory is, in contrast to retention, not constitutive of the being-given-at-all and therefore the being of the remembered experiential contents so that memories can be mistaken. Still higher forms of experience-transcendence display the givenness of other subjectivities and the givenness of external objects, the latter of which are given as existing independently of any givenness. In this view, transcendence is given in immanence, yet this immanence is itself a transcendence with regard to a more radical immanence.

In this sense, for phenomenology there is ultimately no non-intentional sphere in consciousness, and to say that consciousness is essentially consciousness-of is already to say that it has its being in intentionality. And this suffices for our present purpose. A natural objection might seem to be that nonetheless the notion of consciousness as presence-of does not really help us understand the nature of intentionality, after all: One might concede that consciousness essentially consists in the presence of some content, yet argue that precisely the fact that this is an essential, intrinsic feature of consciousness, which exists utterly independently of what goes on in the rest of the world, shows that what is present in this sense are only subjective , inner - mental objects whose relation to the outer world remains to be investigated.

Hence the definition of consciousness as presence-of has not got us any closer to an understanding of intentionality. The question was, after all, how something inner-mental can represent something external, and it is unclear why this should be any more obvious with regard to subjective-phenomenal contents than with regard to physical states of a cognitive system.

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And this cannot be exclusively a matter of what goes on within the mind. Yet actually, the phenomenological determination of consciousness as presence-of is radically misunderstood when it is characterised as the existence of subjective merely inner-mental contents. The problem with this characterisation is the simple and fundamental fact that the intentional relation itself to the outer object is a conscious one and not something that is somehow externally added to the conscious state by objectively existing relations between the state and other things.

And as Husserl has convincingly argued, the being-consciously-there-for-us of an object cannot be accounted for by appealing to the mere existence of inner pictures or other representations, in whatever relations of causality see e. To point to the resemblance between picture and thing will not help. It is, at least if the thing really exists, doubtless the case as an objective fact. A picture only functions as picture for us and the same holds, as Husserl stresses, mutatis mutandis for any kind of representation: ibid.

So the point is that the mere existence of an alleged mental representation in the sense of an immanent content that stands in some objective correspondence-relation to something else cannot account for the intentional being-related-to-something of consciousness. If we do not presuppose the world-presencing character of consciousness as belonging to its intrinsic essence i.

Hua VII, pp. All scientific insights that might inform us about the relation between our subjective interiority and the objective world would then be, conscious-wise, merely a further agglomeration of subjective contents, which might objectively stand in ever more elaborate correspondence-relations to the outer reality, yet without consciousness itself ever knowing anything about this because there would not be any conscious knowing in the first place. No scientific effort could ever establish a conscious relation to the world, i.

Thus the naturalistic theories of intentionality, which conceive of it as consisting in external, objective relations between internal states of the subject and the external world, leave completely unintelligible the very being-there-for-us of objective reality they necessarily permanently presuppose and draw upon.

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One cannot appeal to inferences e. We could not even ask about the true character of reality, let alone infer to it, if this reality were not in principle already there for us, even if we may be in the dark about its true nature. The opened-up-ness of reality in consciousness is presupposed by any inference and therefore cannot be established by inferences.

This means nothing more than that reality now, in light of scientific investigation, appears as being different from how it first appeared. Yet this only makes sense if it was reality itself that appeared in the first place. This latter option, however, is a thought that simply cannot be thought , because already the thought that we do not intentionally reach the real world is about the real world itself as never reached by us and accordingly presupposes the intentional being-with-the-world it explicitly denies.

The intentional world-relatedness of consciousness is therefore an absolutely indubitable fact that even any doubt must presuppose. Nonetheless, it is as I attempted to show in Sect. Herein lies something deeply enigmatic that can hardly be comprehended in naturalistic terms see McGinn , pp. In this sense, most of the present anti-physicalistic theories of consciousness are naturalistic, and an account of intentionality could very well accept the irreducibility of phenomenal consciousness and nevertheless conceive of its intentional world-relatedness naturalistically, namely in terms of natural relations between inner-objective occurrences.

Hence naturalism in this sense is tantamount to objectivism, which only knows of the world of objects and cannot but conceive of conscious experiences as merely being further objective occurrences, existing side by side with the other inner-worldly occurrences. This is the form of naturalism Husserl was primarily confronted with and his staunch anti-naturalism was opposed to see, e.

In other words, by knowing only of the world of what is objectively given to us, objectivism makes the very givenness itself of the objects which takes place in consciousness unintelligible. Naturalism cannot but understand our consciousness of things as a further thing. The problem then is: How can a thing intrinsically be the presence of another thing? One thing can bring something else to presence by being there for consciousness as representation of something else, yet obviously this does not help us understand the being-there-for-consciousness itself. In itself no thing is ever the thereness of something else.

A thing simply is what it is, and any relatedness it might have to other things can never be purely a matter of what is intrinsic to this thing alone. Thus, if a conscious experience is, as naturalism would have it, only a natural occurrence that exists side by side with other natural occurrences maybe standing in some correspondence-relations to other things and causing environment-adequate behaviour , 19 it remains totally incomprehensible how our experience in itself can have any significance with regard to what exists outside of it.

This is precisely what made intentionality appear so enigmatic to Husserl. Anything we can ever mean by reality is precisely the reality that is there for us by virtue of the intrinsic essence of our consciousness, i. Of course, not everything that appears also exists.

Online Consciousness And Intentionality Models And Modalities Of Attribution

For phenomenology, the world has to be thought in terms of its manifestation, and accordingly, what it means for a thing to exist cannot be understood independently of what it means for it to appear-as-existing: To exist means precisely to be, in the intra- und intersubjective process of world-experiencing, consistently findable as really-existing within the phenomenally given world as whose thereness our subjectivity essentially exists.

Being has meaning only with reference to its appearance and therefore to subjectivity, independently from subjectivity it has no meaning at all see Hua XVII, p. Consciousness exists as the thereness of the realm of objectivity within which things can exist outside of each other, whereas the relation between the thereness of things to these very things is not itself to be understood as an outside-of-each-other Hua XXXVI, pp. Saying that one never gets beyond subjective interiority already presupposes the reaching out to the outside to which one refers as never reached.

In other words: The thesis that the sphere of consciousness is never broken through is nonsensical as long as it is supposed to mean that we never reach the objective world, i. I will not pursue this idea any further here, which no doubt raises many questions and would require a thorough discussion of its own.

Then, however, one has to at least admit that there is a puzzle, and that there is something deeply un-comprehended in the intrinsicality of conscious intentionality. Naturalism, in any case, is—I am convinced—not a way to a possible solution but rather the inability to see the problem in the first place.

I wish to thank Wayne Martin, Marta Jorba and several anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this text. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author s and the source are credited. This misses the point: The catastrophe would not consist in our being radically mistaken about!

Without intentionality, our world-relatedness as a whole would collapse, and with it the world-relatedness of any science which is supposed to inform us about the objective non-existence of intentionality. I do not agree with Searle on this point, however.

Zahavi b , , Advocacy of the transcendental-phenomenological view of intentionality can also be found in Meixner , For an extensive discussion of the relationship between analytic and phenomenological theories of intentionality see Szanto forthcoming. The givenness of something is usually complexly structured, and detailed analyses of these structures can be given: e. Such analyses are precisely what phenomenology does. Yet the point is that these are analyses of internal structures of givenness and presuppose that givenness takes place at all. So givenness presence of something can be analysed, but not in terms of something else.

Dretske and Tye. Yet actually the main thrust is quite opposed to representationalism in its typical form: While the representationalists usually claim that consciousness can be explained in terms of—naturalistically reducible—intentionality, the view presented here purports that intentionality can, on the contrary, only be understood in terms of—naturalistically irreducible—consciousness. Dretske , p.


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This is simply a non sequitur. And as Galen Strawson has vividly explained, a disposition is not something intentionally contentful, but precisely a disposition to enter an intentional state Strawson , pp. This interpretation of what conscious intentionality consists in does not seem very plausible to me, however. For this, it would somehow have to be the presence of these very relations, and thereby ultimately of the things the state is related to, which was the explanandum in the first place.

Extensive argumentation for this view is found in Drummond Here, we are indeed dealing with a radically non-intentional mode of givenness, yet on the other hand this does not so much pertain to one of the contents we are conscious of as the neo-Brentanian self-representationalists would have it , but rather to the mode of being of consciousness-of itself.

One cannot sensibly speak in this regard of non-intentional conscious experiences or even of a distinguishable non-intentional region within consciousness. Millikan , pp. See, e. For a critique of this kind of externalism, see Seager Yet the problem is that all these are external relations in which consciousness might stand, but which do not change anything about the intrinsic being of the conscious experiences themselves. That the experiences stand in causal dependency-relations to something else and that they, in turn, cause a certain behaviour environment-adequate or not , are without exception extra-conscious facts that, by themselves, in no way make the environment consciously present.

All of this can only be relevant to the intrinsic being of consciousness if it is given to consciousness itself —i. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Understanding the Mind? Intentionality, Perception, and Consciousness

Husserl Studies. Husserl Stud. Published online Apr Wolfgang Fasching. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Vienna, Austria. Wolfgang Fasching, Email: ta. Corresponding author. Introduction Intentionality is the characteristic of mental states of being about or of something: to perceive means to perceive something, to think means to think about something, to remember means to remember something, and so forth.

Consciousness as Presence-of That consciousness is intentional means that it is consciousness- of. First Specification: Noetic Characteristics Consciousness as being intrinsically the presentness of what it is conscious of i. Second Specification: The Question of Non-Intentional Consciousness One could grant that consciousness is always and essentially consciousness-of i. The Indubitability of Conscious World-Relatedness A natural objection might seem to be that nonetheless the notion of consciousness as presence-of does not really help us understand the nature of intentionality, after all: One might concede that consciousness essentially consists in the presence of some content, yet argue that precisely the fact that this is an essential, intrinsic feature of consciousness, which exists utterly independently of what goes on in the rest of the world, shows that what is present in this sense are only subjective , inner - mental objects whose relation to the outer world remains to be investigated.