intentional

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

attention [‘opmerkzaamheid’] II, 405
intend II, 422
intentional II,399;

NC I, 39 (antithetical structure of the theoretical attitude is purely intentional), 52 (feeling cannot have an intentional relation to a Gegenstand), 487 (analytical modus is itself of an intending character because of restless temporal mode of being)

32 Propositions on Anthropology

Last article, 83, 88, 93

intentionality
intentional Inexistence a term used by Franz Brentano; Baader refers to ‘Inexistenz’
ontical NC I, 39 (antithetic attitude of theoretical thought does not have an ontical character), 44( to suppose that it is ontical gives rise to the traditional dichotomy between material body and rational soul),

The structure of our theoretical thought, which is characterized by the Gegenstand-relation, is “only an intentional one; it does not have an ontical character.” (NC I, 39). What does Dooyeweerd mean by only “intentional?”

For an extensive discussion of Dooyeweerd’s meaning of ‘intentional’ and how this differs from the meaning of the term as used in phenomenology, see my article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,” (2006). When acts are “purely intentional,” they are directed inwardly. That is, they are directed to our functions within our temporal body, without reference to what is happening outside. In the case of theory, our own temporal functions of consciousness are analyzed in theGegenstand-relation. When they are directed outwardly, our acts become actions. Our acts of imagination are directed intentionally in this way. In our imagination, we discover the figure, the anticipation of what an individuality structure in the temporal world may become, but which is presently only a potential reality. In finding the figure within the temporal world, and in realizing it and embodying it, we form history, and we fulfill the reality of temporal structures. God’s law or Wisdom gives the connection between this internal figure of our imagination and the modal aspects in which our body and other temporal structures of individuality function.

Our acts have three intentional directions: thinking, willing and imagining. (NC III, 88). Theoretical thought is then certainly an act that, like other acts, proceeds out of our center. Dooyeweerd says that the intentional character of the “acts” lies their “innerness” [innerlijkheid]. It is the performance (activity) which actualizes (realizes) the intention of the act. (Proposition XIV, “32 Propositions on Anthropology”). Thus, an intentional act still needs to be actualized or realized in temporal reality. What else can be said about intentionality insofar as it relates to theory?

Dooyeweerd’s view of intentionality, and of the Gegenstand-relation generally, have been seen as connected with his acknowledged dependence on Husserl’s phenomenology (NC I, v). For Husserl, intentionality is related to his idea of epoché, which is an attempt to get at the “things themselves.” But Dooyeweerd specifically rejects Husserl’s epoché (NC II, 73). Husserl’s view of intentionality also conflicts with Dooyeweerd’s view that the Gegenstand-relation does not point to an ontic reality at all. Dooyeweerd emphasizes that our theoretical splitting apart of the temporal systasis of the aspects into a dis-stasis is only epistemological, and not ontical. The temporal coherence of the modal aspects, as it gives itself to our experience of individuality structures of temporal reality, is a systasis. In his last article , Dooyeweerd says,

…we also find in [D.F.M.] Strauss a continual confusion between the “ontical” and the epistemological states of affairs. In the Prolegomena of the transcendental critique of the theoretical attitude of thought and experience, I have remarked that in the subject-object relations of naïve attitude of thought and experience, empirical reality is understood as it gives itself, that is to say in the continuous systatic coherence and relatedness of its modal aspects within cosmic time. But in the Gegenstand-relation, these modal aspects are epistemologically (notontically”) split apart and set over against each other, with the intention of bringing them into view in their general modality, and thereby making them available for theoretical concepts. (p. 91)

In the same article, Dooyeweerd refers to the antithetical relation between the logical function of thought and the non-logical aspects as merely intentional (p. 83). The logical function of thought is actual, but the abstracted non-logical aspects are non-actual:

But the theoretical inter-modal synthesis rather concerns the actual logical function of thought and the non-actual, intentionally abstracted non-logical aspects of experience (p.93).

See also Dooyeweerd’s Transcendental Problems of Philosophic Thought, (Eerdmans, 1948), 69.

For Dooyeweerd, the Gegenstand-relation is rather an “intentional inexistence,” to use Brentano’s terminology. The concept of intentionality is a central point of Franz Brentano’s ontology of mind. Brentano’s classic statement of intentionality [ Intentionalität] is found at: Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874):

Jedes psychische Phänomen ist durch das charakterisiert, was die Scholastiker des Mittelalters die Intentionale (auch wohl mentale) Inexistenz eines Gegenstandes genannt haben, und was wir, obwohl mit nicht ganz unzweideutigen Ausdrücken, die Beziehung auf einen Inhalt, die Richtung auf ein Objekt (worunter hier nicht eine Realität zu verstehen ist), oder die immanente Gegenständlichkeit nennen würden. Jedes enthält etwas als Object in sich, obwohl nicht jedes in gleicher Weise. In der Vorstellung ist etwas vorgestellt, in dem Urtheile ist etwas anerkannt oder verworfen, in der Liebe geliebt, in dem Hasse gehasst, in dem Begehren begehrt, u.s.w. Diese intentionale Inexistenz ist den psychischen Phänomene ausschliess-lich eigenthümlich. Franz Brentano: Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874), 115-116.

This has been translated as:

Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (and also mental) inexistence of an object, and what we would call, although not in entirely unambiguous terms, the reference to a content, a direction upon an object (by which we are not to understand a reality…), or an immanent objectivity. Each one includes something as an object within itself, although not always in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgment something is affirmed or denied, in love [something is] loved, in hate [something] is hated, in desire something is desired, etc.
This intentional inexistence is exclusively characteristic of mental phenomena. (Franz Brentano: Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, ed. L.L. McAlister, translated by A.C. Rancurello, D.B. Terrell and L.L. McAlister. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973).

This statement has caused much discussion among phenomenologists. In particular, the meaning of ‘intentional inexistence’ has been unclear. I believe that part of the confusion has been caused by the English translation, which does not distinguish between Gegenstand and object. A further confusion has been caused by the fact that most of the discussion of ‘intentional inexistence’ has centered on our ability to imagine fictitious objects as such unicorns, or ‘the gold mountain’ or even of impossible objects, such as ‘the round square.’ But although intentionality includes such fictional objects, that is not the main point of the meaning of Inexistenz. Brentano’s point is that all ‘objects’ of thought have this quality of intentional inexistence. He applies it to ‘every mental phenomenon.’

Brentano specifically says that by the ‘object’ of thought we are not to understand a reality. It is an ‘immanent Gegenständlichkeit.’ This has frequently been seen as ‘immanence within thought’ as opposed to an existence outside of thought. But ‘immanence’ can also contrast our temporal existence to the transcendence of the supratemporal. This fits with Spiegelberg’s interpretation of ‘intentional inexistence.’ Spiegelberg says that the original scholastic meaning of ‘intentional inexistence’ was not nonexistence but ”the existence of an “intentio” inside the intending being, as if embedded in it.” (Herbert Spiegelberg: The Context of the Phenomenological Movement, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969, p. 40).At p. 39, Spiegelberg gives this translation of the passage where Brentano introduced his idea of intentionality:

Every psychical phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or sometimes the mental) inexistence of an object, and what we should like to call, although not quite unambiguously, the reference (Beziehung) to a content, the directednes (Richtung) toward an object (which in this context is not to be understood as something real) or the immanent-object-quality (immanent Gegenständlichkeit). Each contains something as its object, thought not each in the same manner. Each contains something as its object, though not each in the same manner. In the representation (Vorstellung) something is represented, in the judgment something is acknowledged or rejected, in desiring it is desired, etc. This intentional inexistence is peculiar alone to psychical phenomena. No physical phenomenon shows aything like it. And thus we can define psychical phenomena by saying that they are such phenomena as contain objects in themselves by way of intention (intentional).[Psychologie vom empirischen standpunkt I, Buch 1, Kapitel I, s. 5]

Spiegelberg refers to the use of the term by Aquinas. In scholastic philosophy, ‘intentio’ ”signifies the peculiar image or likeness formed in the soul in the process of acquiring knowledge, thus representing, as it were, a kind of distillate from the world outside.” Spiegelberg says that, although traces of this meaning exist in Brentano, he uses the term ‘intentio’ only in conjunction with the idea of intentional inexistence. He says that this usage of ‘intentional’ is completely original to Brentano, and that Brentano later abandoned it. At p. 107, Spiegelberg says that when Husserl’s took over the idea of directness towards objects, he abandoned the idea of their immanency in the act. It is Husserl’s idea of directness or intentionality that has been improperly used in attempting to interpret Dooyeweerd.

Whether or not Brentano was original in his use of ‘intentio,’ Franz von Baader also relates Inexistenz to immanence. For example, he says that Inexistenz is a synonym of the immanence of all things in God:

Den Begriff der Immanenz oder Inexistenz aller Dinge in Gott (als omnipotens, weil omnitenens) vermengen diese Philosopheme pantheistische mit jenen ihrer Identität mit letzterem (Elementarbegriffe 535; Werke 14, 31).

[These philosophers mix up in a pantheistic way the concept of the immanence or inexistence of all things in God (as omnipotent because ‘omnitenens’ or holding all) with the concept of their identity with God].

The temporal world as Inexistenz inheres in, dwells in, or subsists in our own existence. As existent beings, it is our mission to descend to the temporal world and to raise it up to its true existence. When we do that, the temporal world is eternally revealed to eternal creatures, such as the angels (Fermenta VI, 17). Baader relies here on Böhme, who says that the world was in eternal Wisdom as a figure invisible to intelligent creatures. The world reaches its true end only by Man (Fermenta VI, 15). Whether Baader’s ideas of Inexistenz influenced Franz Brentano (1838-1917) deserves further research. Baader did influence Franz Brentano’s uncle, the poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842).

This interpretation of ‘intentionality’ as a descent to temporal Inexistenz also fits with Dooyeweerd’s view of theory. He says that the Gegenstand of our thought does not have a real or ontical status because it is an abstraction from the full reality.

In his “32 Propositions on Anthropology” Dooyeweerd says that by “intentional” [bedoelend] he means that we direct ourselves to states of affairs in [temporal] reality or in our imagination. We relate these states of affairs to our [supratemporal] I-ness in order to “make them our own.” Phenomenology improperly elevates this theoretical, merely intentional abstraction to reality, and to interpret Dooyeweerd in that way is a mistake. For Dooyeweerd, the intentional, the theoretical, is not ontical or real.

Dooyeweerd says that we were created as the supratemporal root of temporal reality. We have no existence except in relation to our Origin. But temporal reality has no existence except in relation to humanity, its religious root (NC I, 100; II, 53).

To say that the temporal world has ‘no reality’ apart from its root in humanity means that it can be said have ‘inexistence’ (or what Baader refers to as ‘Inexistenz’).

The states of affairs (which are different from facts) are intentional. They must be related back to our selfhood in order to recognize these states of affairs as our own. This is a very different view of intentionality than has been acknowledged in other Dooyeweerd studies. It refers to movement or relation between the supratemporal and the temporal. [Only the supratemporal root has true existence; we make a movement of intentional Inexistenz. These intentional states of affairs must then be related back to our supratemporal I-ness].

My interpretation of Dooyeweerd and Baader is therefore that in our theory, we must actively and freely [intentionally] make the movement from enstasis to exstasis, from our supra-temporal Existenz to that of immanent Inexistenz. None of the objects of our theoretical thought have real ‘existence’; they have a lower level of reality than our Selfhood, and we must make a conscious and intentional movement from the higher level to a lower level of experience.

See existence.

Revised Jan14/10