On Philosophy

May 3, 2006

Internal and External Intentionality

Filed under: Intentionality — Peter @ 11:02 pm

This is not an opinion piece so much as a clarification of the difference between internal and external intentionality, which I mentioned last time. In modern theories, of both types, it is admitted that the workings of the mind, such as memory and perception, play some role in the working of intentionality. However under modern external theories it is claimed that the meaning (content) of our intentional thoughts is either generated or found in the external world. Internal theories hold that the meaning (content) of an intentional thought is generated by the mind, and that the external world only generates raw impressions. For example if you look at a chair you cannot deny that it is in fact a chair. Any perception you have of the chair comes to you tied with the concept that what you are seeing is in fact a chair, something meant for sitting in. An external theory might claim that what caused this “meaning” for you was the chair (in the world), while an internal theory would claim that there was some unconscious process attaching the meaning of chair to your perception before you became consciously aware of it.

Next time: ontology


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