Monday, November 1, 2010

Consciousness, and Intentionality

All references indicate a problem of semantics with the word "intentionality", but consciousness must be consciousness of something. There are two stages of "intentionality": that which occurs at birth, and that which comes after consciousness of being conscious.
"But here [in the semantics] the difficulty lies partly in the fact that the relevant use of cognate terms is simply not that found in common speech (as when we speak of doing something ‘intentionally’)."…

This problem in semantics is better explained this way: "Every intentional state is mental, but not every conscious mental state is intentional. For example, one may have feelings of anxiety that do not have any intentional content.…

"Philosopher Franz Brentano has suggested intentionality or aboutness (that consciousness is about something). However, within the philosophy of mind there is no consensus on whether intentionality is a requirement for consciousness."…

That "consciousness is about something" can be explained if you consider that any 'intentionality' (of any semantic persuasion) absolutely requires consciousness---after we become conscious of it:

"Concepts and, therefore, language are primarily a tool of cognition—not of communication, as is usually assumed. Communication is merely the consequence, not the cause nor the primary purpose of concept-formation—a crucial consequence, of invaluable importance to men, but still only a consequence. Cognition precedes communication............."

Ayn Rand…

Cognition precedes intentionality, because without consciousness one cannot have any intentions, no matter which semantic definition you use. 
 The question seems to be this:
Does some 'intention' of mind cause consciousness? 
But it can only be answered by acknowledging that the brain is hard-wired at birth to 'intentionally' seek objects of cognition, just as the lungs are hard-wired to seek oxygen and the liver is hard-wired to strain the blood stream.

But there is the matter of retaining intentionality after one become conscious of being conscious. Drugs and alcohol are only two of the means people use to try to eliminate their own intentionality.

But it still comes down to which semantic definition you use. "...within the philosophy of mind there is no consensus on whether intentionality is a requirement for consciousness." I think we can see that at birth there can be no intention that requires a reasoned purpose for it, but only one that is hard-wired. Because "Concepts and, therefore, language are primarily a tool of cognition—", it is at that point that it would seem we can choose to maintain our individual, purposeful "intentionality" or let it go.

Ardi Pithecus ™,
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