A Sense of Presence

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 205)


Indexical awareness involves a sense of the object’s presence, and that sense of presence is a defining trait of acquaintance.


Actual World Visual Experience Intentional Relation Intentional Content Chapter Versus 
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  1. 3a.
    Cf. Jaakko Hintikka [1970], “On Kant’s Notion of Intuition (Anschauung)”,Google Scholar
  2. 3b.
    John F. Lad [1973], Chapter III; Bolzano [1837], Theory of Science, §72, and Lad [1973], Chapter IV on Bolzano. Lad remarks that Bolzano took over Kant’s notion of intuition, with modifications (p. 72). On Husserl’s account of intuition, see the Introduction above; on the notion of X-content see Husserl [1913], Ideas, §131, and Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapter IV, section 3.1, thereon, as well as D. W. Smith [1982c]. On Izchak Miller’s reconstruction, in his [1984], Husserl, Perception and Temporal Awareness, the “demonstrative” element in perception (Miller’s terminology) is identified with the “determinable X” in the noematic Sinn; the sense of presence would then have to be part of the predicative content of the Sinn, which may also be indexical, as ascribed perhaps in “I see this as now here before me”.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    It seems commonly thought that the force of the word “this” is merely that of singular reference to a particular individual, “direct” reference that makes no appeal to a concept of the referent or to the properties of the referent. I have argued to the contrary that “this” expresses the acquainting sense in the speaker’s perception of the referent, where that sense appeals to the object’s contextual relation to the perception: cf. D. W. Smith [1981a], “Indexical Sense and Reference”, and [1982b], “What’s the Meaning of This’?”. David Kaplan’s operator “dthat” might suggest the narrower view of demonstrative reference, yet his semantical framework appeals to context-dependence at the level of “character” if not “content” (interpreting propositional content however in a Russellian, not a Husserlian, way): cf. his [1977], Demonstratives, and my [1982b] in commentary.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Duns Scotus, in particular, took haecceitas in this way, but he also defined intuitive cognition as knowledge of an object as particular and as present. For this observation on Scotus’ view, I am indebted to Douglas Langston. Cf. Boler [1982], “Intuitive and Abstractive Cognition”.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    A similar reincarnation of haecceitas is detailed in Robert Merrihew Adams [1979], “Primitive Thisness and Primitive Identity”.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    On Husserl’s notion of X see, again, Husserl [1913], Ideas, §131, and Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapter IV, section 3.1. On Kant’s related notion of “the transcendental object = x”, see Kant [1781/1787], Critique of Pure Reason, A109, and J. N. Findlay [1982], Kant and the Transcendental Object. For a detailed account of how a singular content functions in a singular (“definite” or “de re”) judgment, as opposed to a perception, see Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapter VIII, section 4.Google Scholar
  7. 9a.
    Again, Husserl may have identified the “demonstrative” element in perception with an X-content: cf. D. W. Smith [1982c], “Husserl on Demonstrative Reference and Perception”,Google Scholar
  8. 9b.
    Miller [1984], Chapter Three. But Husserl also required in intuition a sense of presence: see the Introduction above. If the indexical content in perception is thus reduced to the X-content, then the sense of presence is not implicit in or presupposed by the indexical content, but perhaps is found in further, predicative content in the perception, e.g., “is actually now here before me…”.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    These points are detailed in D. W. Smith [1983], “Is This a Dagger I See Before Me?” Note that I have assumed two types of presupposition, so that one intentional state presupposes another and one content presupposes another; this distinction is developed in Chapter VI.Google Scholar
  10. 13a.
    This kind of explication of content in terms of possible worlds is detailed in Smith and McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality.Google Scholar
  11. 13b.
    The possible-worlds approach to propositions attitudes began in Jaakko Hintikka [1962], Knowledge and Belief, and evolved in his [1969], Models for Modalities (see especially “Semantics for Prepositional Attitudes” and “On the Logic of Perception” therein), and his [1975], The Intentions of Intentionality.Google Scholar
  12. 13c.
    For grounding of the possible-worlds approach in traditional intentionality theory, and application in Husserlian phenomenology, see Smith and McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality.Google Scholar
  13. 13d.
    For interpretation of Hintikka’s scheme itself, see D. W. Smith [1982], review of Hintikka [1975]; and D. W. Smith [1987], “Objects and Worlds of Thought in the Philosophy of Hintikka”, in Radu Bogdan, editor, Profiles series volume Jaakko Hintikka.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    This type of content does not embody a descriptive mode of presentation, and does not reduce to a descriptive content of the usual Fregean sort. Rather, this type of content may be thought of as embodying a certain sort of singular mode of presentation, as when we think of an individual well-known to us. For a detailed study of this type of singular presentation, see Smith and McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality, Chapter VIII.Google Scholar
  15. 15a.
    This perspective on the possible-worlds approach to intentionality is detailed, with similar caveats, in Smith and McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality. When below we substitute situations for bona fide metaphysically possible worlds, are we switching from Hintikka’s notion of possible worlds to Barwise and Perry’s notion of situations? Arguably not. Hintikka’s notion of possible worlds, used in analysis of prepositional attitudes, was always that of epistemically or doxastically or perceptually possible worlds, rather than metaphysically possible worlds; moreover, he has stressed “small” worlds — in effect, situations — rather than maximal consistent worlds. Also, Barwise and Perry align their view of perception with the “ecological” approach, which may be developed as an externalist theory of perception (in the sense of Chapter IV above).Google Scholar
  16. 15c.
    Cf. Barwise and Perry [1983], Situations and Attitudes. Regarding Hintikka’s views, and interpretations thereof, see the references in notes 13 and 20.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    We are skirting the important differences between two conceptions of actuality. On one view, there is — absolutely — one actual world W: thus, the sentence “actually p” as uttered in a world w is true in w if and only if “p” is true in W (regardless of w). On another view, the actual world is “this” world, wherein we are now live and communicate, so that “actually” is an indexical term like “here” or “now”: thus, “actually p” as uttered in w is true in w if and only if “p” is true in w (there being no absolutely actual world but only one’s environing world). The issue of “actuality” thus raises many issues of metaphysics, epistemology, and phenomenology that we cannot go into here. Cf. Robert Merrihew Adams [1974], “Theories of Actuality”, for an incisive discussion of some of those issues.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    As is argued in detail in D. W. Smith [1983], “Is This a Dagger I See Before Me?”Google Scholar
  19. 20a.
    See Hintikka, “On the Logic of Perception”, in his [1969], and related essays in his [1975]. My differences concerning perceptual individuation are detailed in: D. W. Smith [1979], “The Case of the Exploding Perception”;Google Scholar
  20. 20b.
    Chapter VIII of Smith and McIntyre [1982]; Smith [1983b], “Kantifying In”; and my articles cited in note 13 above.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    As post-Tarskian semantics explicates meaning in terms of truth-conditions, so intentional content can be explicated in terms of conditions of “satisfaction” (truth, in the case of propositional content or attitudes). Searle defines intentionality in such terms, in effect identifying content with satisfaction-conditions: see Searle [1983], Intentionality. By contrast, McIntyre and I have treated satisfaction-conditions as an essential property of meaning or intentional content, but we do not reduce content to satisfaction-conditions: see Smith and McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality, Chapters III-VII.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See Husserl [1913], Ideas, §44, and [1931], Cartesian Meditations, §§19–20.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Husserl [1913], Ideas, §149.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapters V-VII, details these Husserlian notions of horizon, indeterminacy, and transcendence, and their connection with the possible-worlds theory of intentionality.Google Scholar
  25. 25a.
    In acquaintance one grasps a particular object in its individuality, but without comprehending its full spread in space and time, or in “modal space” (the space of possible situations or worlds). It might be said one grasps the whole object by means of a part of the object — a spatial, temporal, and/or modal part; where only that part of the object is a proper part of the relevant context of acquaintance, the object itself being further extended in space, time, and modal space. Cf. D. W. Smith [1981], “Indexical Sense and Reference”.Google Scholar
  26. 25b.
    The ontology of parts and wholes is beyond the scope of this book, but see: Barry Smith, editor, [1982], Parts and Moments, and Kit Fine’s penetrating (and unpublished) work on parts and wholes and dependent objects.Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Cf. Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapter VIII, section 2, placing this explication in a larger context.Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    For details of this interpretation, see Smith and McIntyre, Chapters II-VII, and also D. W. Smith [1987], “Objects and Worlds of Thought in the Philosophy of Hintikka”.Google Scholar

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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