Intentionality, Mentalism, and the Problem of Objective Reference

  • Maurita J. Harney
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 94)


One consequence of Wittgenstein’s celebrated arguments against the possibility of a private language has been the release of “the mental” from “mentalism”.


Objective Reference Mental Phenomenon Intensional Object Intensional Function Propositional Form 
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  1. 1.
    Quinton (1964), p. 17.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kenny’s original spelling of this word is “intensionality”. For reasons which will emerge later, I have adopted the spelling “intentionality”.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kenny (1963), pp. 13–14.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Brentano (1874), pp. 88–9.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Chisholm (1967), p. 6.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    cf. Plato’s Theaetetus, 189a—b: Soc. And does not he who thinks, think some one thing? Theaet. Certainly. Soc. And does not he who thinks some one thing, think something which is? Theaet. I agree. Soc. Then he who thinks of that which is not, thinks of nothing? Theaet. Clearly. Soc. And he who thinks of nothing, does not think at all? Theaet. Obviously. Soc. Then no one can think that which is not, either as a self-existent substance or as a predicate of something else? Theaet. Clearly not.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Carr (1975), p. 33.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Chisholm (1967) points out that, in Brentano’s later writings of 1914, the notion of an intentionally in-existent object as something which exists in addition to the person thinking is abandoned in favour of the “reistic” view according to which saying that there is an immanent object is to say no more than that there is an actual person who is thinking about that object.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Olafson (1975), p. 75.Google Scholar
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    cf. Chisholm (1967), p. 11.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Olafson (1975), p. 75.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Brentano (1874), p. 85.Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    This recommendation is implicit in Olafson (1975), and it is explicit in Chisholm (1967) who argues that, by shedding Brentano’s ontological thesis, we can then understand his doctrine of intentionality as stating simply the “having of something in mind”.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    The locus classicus for this position is Chisholm (1957), Ch. 11. Chisholm’s version of the intentionality thesis is a “re-formulation” of Brentano’s theory only in a very broad sense of that term. For, as we will see in the following pages, Chisholm’s account (being a thesis about language) invokes considerations from sources other than Brentano. The divergence between the two writers at this theoretical level is a consequence of the differing concerns of each: Brentano’s concern was with the subject-matter of psychology; Chisholm’s with the logical features of language. For a detailed discussion of Chisholm’s “deviation” from Brentano, see Howarth (1980).Google Scholar
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    Chisholm (1957), p. 170.Google Scholar
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    Frege (1892), p. 59.Google Scholar
  17. 31.
    Chisholm does not explicitly acknowledge that his second criterion is traceable to Frege. The connection I am drawing here, between Chisholm’s second criterion and Frege’s “indirect reference” will be spelt out more fully when we turn to Frege’s contribution to the intentionality debates in Chapter II, below.Google Scholar
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    Prior (1971), pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
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    Elsewhere, [Brentano (1874) Book II, ch. vii and, more explicitly, in Brentano (1911)], Brentano does distinguish between content and object in order to show that the content of e.g., an act of judging can never be made an object of mental reference. Thus, if I judge that a centaur does not exist, it is “a centaur” which is the object of my judging, and not a centaur’s existence or non-existence. This means that, for Brentano, the intentionality of acts like judging, affirming, denying, etc., which have propositional content consists, ultimately, in a relation to the object judged, etc.Google Scholar
  20. 36.
    Prior (1968), p. 91.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurita J. Harney
    • 1
  1. 1.MelbourneAustralia

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