Acquaintance and Intentionality

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


The 1970’s brought revolutions in both philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. In the one revolution, mind and mental representation became respectable once more. (Contrast the mentalism of Fodor and other philosophers of cognitive science1 with the antimentalism of Quine, Skinner, and some Wittgensteinians. Ironically, the mind returned on the back of a machine.) In the other revolution, names and indexical pronouns (“this”, “I”, etc.) were said to refer directly, without the mediation of senses or thoughts in the speaker’s head, because their reference is determined by context, e.g., by the causal connection between the speaker and the referent. (Compare the neo-Russellian, anti-Fregean views of Donnellan, Putnam, Kaplan, and Kripke with the great Fregean semantical tradition.2) Where representation was restored to the mind in one revolution, reference was pulled away from mind and thought in the other. And causal theories of reference spawned causal theories of perception, knowledge, mind, and mental representation. All this, within the Anglo-American tradition of analytic philosophy.


Phenomenological Description Intentional Relation Abstract Entity Content Approach Indexical Content 
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  1. 1a.
    See Fodor [1975], The Language of Thought Google Scholar
  2. 1b.
    Block [1981], editor, Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology, for some of the attitudes of “your thoroughly modern mentalist”.Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    Cf. the essays in Schwarz [1977], Naming, Necessityand Natural Kinds Google Scholar
  4. 2b.
    Kaplan [1977], Demonstratives Google Scholar
  5. 2c.
    Kripke [1972], “Naming and Necessity”Google Scholar
  6. 2d.
    Putnam [1975], Mind Language and Reality CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 2e.
    Salmon [1981], Reference and Essence.Google Scholar
  8. 3a.
    Cf. Føllesdal [1969], “Husserl’s Notion of Noema”Google Scholar
  9. 3b.
    the other essays in Dreyfus [1982], Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science.Google Scholar
  10. 4.
    David Woodruff Smith and Ronald McIntyre [1982], Husserl and Intentionality.Google Scholar
  11. 5a.
    Cf. Christian Knudsen [1982], “Intentions and Impositions” (Chapter 23)Google Scholar
  12. 5b.
    John F. Boler [1982], “Intuitive and Abstractive Cognition” (Chapter 22)Google Scholar
  13. 5c.
    Kretzmann, Kenny, and Pinborg, editirs, [1982], The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy. The former essay traces the notions of intentio and noema from Aristotle into the Middle Ages, wherefrom we know Brentano retrived his notion of intentionality, whence Husserl in adapting Brentano’s notion of intentionality reinstated the term “noema” (though I do not know if he anywhere cites Aristotle’s use of the term). The second essay traces the notion of intuition (= acquaintance) from Aristotle through Augustine into Scotus and Ockham and the late Medievals, from whom we know Descartes, Kant, and finally Husserl took up the term.Google Scholar
  14. 6.
    For a brief account of the history of the notion of intuition, see John F. Boler [1982] and John F. Lad [1973], On Intuition, Evidence, and Unique Representation (doctoral dissertation). On meanings of “intuition”, including an early use in reference to carnal knowledge, see The Oxford English Dictionary.Google Scholar
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    See: Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics [1783], section 8, and Critique of Pure Reason [1781/1787], A 19 - B 34Google Scholar
  16. 8.
    See Russell, “Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description” (1910–1911), in his Mysticism and Logic [1917]. Most of that essay is reproduced in the chapter of the same title in his Problems of Philosophy [1912]. A kindred essay is “On the Nature of Acquaintance” (1914), in his Logic and Knowledge [1901-].Google Scholar
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    Cf. David Woodruff Smith, “Husserl on Demonstrative Reference and Perception” [1982c], in Dreyfus [1982].Google Scholar
  18. 14a.
    It is observed: When two people in different contexts or circumstances utter an indexical word, saying “That is Mount Hood” or “I am thirsty” or “It is now noon”, they may express the same meaning or content or be in the same type of psychological state, and yet refer to different objects and assert different things, different propositions, with perhaps different truth-values. Cf. Romane Clark, “Sensuous Judgments” [1973], p. 49Google Scholar
  19. 14b.
    Hilary Putnam, “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”, in his [1975], p. 234Google Scholar
  20. 14c.
    John Perry, “The Problem of the Essential Indexical” [1979], which Perry announces as inspired by ideas of Hector-Neri Castañeda, in his “‘He’: a Study in the Logic of Self-Consciousness” [1966] and related essays. One form of the observation (manifest in the distinction between “character” and “content”) is central to David Kaplan’s definitive logic of demonstratives, in his [1977] and [1979] (the latter presented in lectures in 1971). The famous Twin Earth scenario, described at length by Putnam in the above essay, will serve us well in suitable variations.Google Scholar
  21. 16.
    See Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapters II and III, for details of the contrast between object and content approaches.Google Scholar
  22. 17a.
    Cf. J. N. Findlay, Meinong’s Theory of Objects and Values [1963]Google Scholar
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    D. W. Smith, “Meinongian Objects” [1975].Google Scholar
  24. 18a.
    On recent causal and computational functionalism, see Ned Block, editor, Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology [1980]Google Scholar
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    Volume One. Varieties of cultural functionalism have been seen in Martin Heidegger, Being and Time [1927], and in Wildrid Sellars1 various works including Science, Perception, and Reality [1963] and Naturalism and Ontology [1979].Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    Cf. Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapters I and VII on the relations between intentionality and the logic of sentences reporting intentional states.Google Scholar
  27. 22a.
    Cf. Husserl [1913], Ideas, § 124Google Scholar
  28. 22b.
    Wittgenstein [1948], Investigations Google Scholar
  29. 22c.
    Jaakko and Merrill Hintikka [1987], Investigating Wittgenstein.Google Scholar
  30. 23a.
    See in particular: Husserl, Logical Investigations [1900- 01], V, § 20ff, on quality versus matterCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 23b.
    Husserl, Ideas [1913], § 90, 128–130, on Sinn versus thetic character or way of givennessGoogle Scholar
  32. 23c.
    Smith and McIntyre [1982], Chapter III, §§2.2, 2.4Google Scholar
  33. 23d.
    John Searle, Intentionality [1983], Chapter 1, on representational or intentional content versus psychological mode.Google Scholar
  34. 25.
    The Husserlian theory outlined in this section is expounded in detail in Chapters m and IV of Smith and McIntyre [1982].Google Scholar
  35. 27a.
    See: Husserl, Ideas [1913], and Cartesian Meditations [1931]Google Scholar
  36. 27b.
    Heidegger, Being and Time [1927]Google Scholar
  37. 27c.
    Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception [1945]Google Scholar
  38. 27d.
    J. J. Gibson, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception [1979]Google Scholar
  39. 27e.
    David Blinder, “A New Look at Vision” [1986]Google Scholar
  40. 27f.
    Putnam, “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”, in his [1975]Google Scholar
  41. 27g.
    Burge [1979], “Individualism and the Mental”, and [1981], “Other Bodies”.Google Scholar

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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