Intentionality: Husserl and the Analytic Approach

  • David Carr
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 106)


Discussion among analytic philosophers of the concept of intentionality, at least under that name, dates primarily from R.M. Chisholm’s paper, ‘Sentences About Believing’ (1955).1 This paper evoked a wide response, and discussion and interest in the topic to date have grown to the point where an anthology was thought appropriate: one has recently appeared under the title Intentionality, Mind and Language, edited by A. Marras.2 Chisholm derived his presentation of the concept from Brentano, who was the first modern thinker, as far as anyone knows, to revive this medieval term. Most of the analytic discussions of intentionality have taken their point of departure from Chisholm’s reformulation of Brentano’s thesis, and little attention has been paid to the fact that intentionality, as Husserl borrowed it from Brentano and also reformulated it, is one of the key concepts, if not the key concept, of the phenomenological tradition descended from Husserl. Even Chisholm himself, who knows the phenomenological literature well, warns readers of his article on intentionality in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, after mentioning two related ‘theses’ of intentionality, that the term ‘is also used in connection with certain other related theses of phenomenology and existentialism’.3 This almost suggests that the two traditions share only the word, and not even the concept; or that, if the concept is the same, it is treated in very different ways.


Mental Activity Visual Experience Logical Investigation Intentional Object Intended Object 
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  1. 3.
    Intentionality’ in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. P. Edwards, (New York: Macmillan, 1967 ), Vol. 4, p. 201. Chisholm does relate the concept to phenomenology in the Editor’s Introduction to Realism and the Background of Phenomenology ( New York: The Free Press, 1960 )Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    Cf. Marras in IML, pp. 3 f., Chisholm in ‘Intentionality’, loc. cit. (note 3 above).Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    J.N. Mohanty, The Concept of Intentionality (St Louis; Warren H. Green, 1972 ), p. 28.Google Scholar
  4. 25.
    Marras in /ML, p. 67. Cf. A. Kenny, Action, Emotion and Will, ( New York: Humanities Press, 1963 ), p. 198.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    H. Dreyfus, ‘Sinn and the intentional object’, in Phenomenology and Existentialism, ed. R.C. Solomon (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp. 205 f.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    IML, p. 64. Cf. G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind ( London: Hutchinson, 1949 ), pp. 149–53.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Carr
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of OttawaCanada

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