What makes my representation of him into a representation of him?L. Wittgenstein
Sometimes, fundamental philosophical influences simply go unacknowledged, although, when finally pointed out, they seem as obvious as the nose on your face. As a case in point, in this essay I argue that German Idealism has had a fundamental but unacknowledged impact on contemporary philosophy of mind and cognition, via the concept of intentionality. More specifically, I trace, unpack and then critically evaluate this impact by looking at how the theory of intentionality that is built into Kant's transcendental idealism fundamentally influenced two central figures in the Phenomenological tradition, Brentano and Husserl.
What is mind, or the mental? Three classical answers to that question are that
(i) mind is rationality, i.e., a creature's sensitivity-to-reasons and freely-willed guidedness-by-principles;
(ii) mind is consciousness, i.e., subjective experience, and;
(iii) mind is intentionality.
Intentionality, in turn, is the ‘aboutness’ of the mind, the ‘of-ness’ of the mind or the directedness of mind to objects. Here the notion of an ‘object’ is very broadly construed so as to include existing or non-existing individuals, properties, relations, facts, temporal events, spatial locations, other minds, and also one’s own mind (including one’s own intentionality), as possible targets of intentionality; and acts, states or processes of intentionality can include all sorts of cognitive or conative activities and psychological attitudes, e.g., perception, memory, thinking, apperception or selfconsciousness, judgement, belief, knowledge, rational intuition, logical reasoning, desire, love, hate, fear, and so on.