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Double Intentionality

Special Issue 39

Edited by

Michela Summa, Martin Klein, Philipp Schmidt

Official Call for Paper:

Deadline: Sunday 31st May 2020

Intentionality’ – generally understood as ‘directedness’ or ‘aboutness’ – is one of the most important concepts in contemporary philosophy. Its relevance is manifest in the philosophy of mind, language, and action, as well as in ethics and political philosophy. One central issue is whether intentionality has a single-directed, unitary structure or whether there are different forms of intentionality that may even be simultaneously operative in conscious experience as a complex of several intentions. For instance, do we also intend species or general concepts when we intend individuals or vice versa? Are we intentionally directed at ourselves as conscious subjects when we intend an external object, and does this self-directedness presuppose reflection or is it implicitly entailed in pre-reflective experience? And further: When we hear someone quoting someone else, or when we hear someone imitating someone else, how is the intention toward the original implied in the intention toward the quote or the imitation? When we remember or imagine something, do we only intend the remembered or imagined scenario, or do we also intend ourselves as having previously experienced or as possibly experiencing that scenario as present?

These and similar kinds of questions have been addressed in historical and contemporary theories of intentionality by referring to the distinctions between ‘first’ and ‘second’ intention, between intentio recta and intentio obliqua, or more generally by referring to ‘double intentionality’. There has been considerable and fruitful research on the connection between historical and contemporary theories of intentionality. However, a comprehensive historical-systematic inquiry into ‘double intentionality’ is still lacking. Yet, such an inquiry promises to offer important contributions precisely to answer above-mentioned questions and may foster our general understanding of intentionality.

First insightful descriptions of double intentionality can be found in Arabic philosophers such as Al-Fārābī and Avicenna who introduced the distinction between first and second intention, and authors in the 13th and 14th century (e.g., Radulphus Brito, Hervaeus Natalis, William of Ockham). In the context of these medieval discussions, the focus lies on logical and semantical intentionality: often first intentions are considered to be concepts for things (e.g. ‘man’), while second intentions are taken as concepts for concepts (e.g., ‘species’). Similar distinctions are also present in the philosophy of mind and language in authors such as Ryle, and more recently, Recanati, who examine linguistic aspects of double intentionality in the context of imagination and fiction. Moreover, analyses of double intentionality can be found in authors who highlight an essential relationship between intentionality and consciousness, such as Brentano, Husserl or Hartmann. Their analyses introduce different versions of double intentionality as conscious phenomena and shed light on their phenomenological structure.

The aim of the special issue is to compare these and other conceptions of double intentionality, to clarify their connections, to specify the different domains in which double intentionality is relevant, and to discuss potentially innovative approaches that may be suitable to explain the different phenomena in which double intentionality is involved. In doing so we expect to shed new light on the different forms of double intentionality, which has not received thus far the attention it deserves.

We particularly encourage the submission of articles related to the following thematic areas:

Intention and conceptual content: The question whether every intentional act has a conceptual content is largely debated in contemporary philosophy of mind and phenomenology. The distinction between first and second intention might help to understand and settle a number of related issues. Is there a difference between the way we intend singular and the way we intend general concepts? Is it possible to intend something without the intention of a general concept? Is it possible to intend a general concept without representing singular concrete objects? Which role does conceptual content play in cognition?

Semantic structures and double intention: It is a commonplace that intentionality, considered as the ‘mark of the mental’, does not capture the full sense of ‘intention’ or ‘intentional being’ in the scholastic tradition. According to the latter, not only the mind refers to extra-mental items, but extra-mental items themselves can be intentionally directed to something, for instance pictures, images and natural signs. In phenomenology, these phenomena are also interpreted on the basis of intentional structures of consciousness – e.g., how an object is apprehended or constituted as an image or as a sign. Can some aspects of the medieval analysis of intentions as semantic and semiotic structures play a role for the reassessment of the contemporary approaches to intentionality, and notably to double intentions?

Concrete and abstract intentions: The medieval discussion of first and second intentions is interconnected with the distinction between concrete and abstract intentions. In phenomenology, ‘concrete’ and ‘abstract’ respectively refer to independent and non-independent objects. Is there any systematic connection between the way the notion of ‘concrete’ and ‘abstract’ are conceptualized in medieval philosophy and in phenomenology? In both traditions, ‘concrete’ and ‘abstract’ are further linked to the genus-species classification and they are understood on the basis of foundational and dependency relations. How are such relations to be conceptualized? Can such a conceptualization contribute to the understanding of first and second intentions?

Double intention and consciousness: The distinction between first and second intention seems to be also eminently related to reflexive structures of consciousness and plays a role in the distinction and plurality of modes of self-awareness, for instance in perceiving, imagining, or recollecting. One central question is whether double intentionality is something intrinsic to any form of consciousness to the effect that any conscious intention of an object includes a reflexive second intention of the subject of experience, or whether double intentionality stems originally from a higher-order act of reflection? What is the precise relation between second intentions and reflection? Can the double awareness characterizing acts of re-presentation (Vergegenwärtigung) – like remembering, imagining, recollecting, etc. – be conceptualized in terms of double intention?

Practical intentionality: Double intentionality also plays a role in volition and action. For instance, it can allow us to reassess the way we are aware of an action and its aim as a whole and of its constitutive parts. Moreover, it can be adopted in order to clarify the relation between simply representing something and representing something as good, useful, desirable, etc. Can medieval and phenomenological conceptions of double intentionality help to understand complexions of cognitive and practical intentions? How is the structure of a plurality of intentions understood in the different philosophical traditions and in current debates in ethics? Are volitional states of the mind structured according to a double intentionality? Can the relation between affection and action be interpreted in light of double intentionality?

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