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An essay in the philosophy of mind



An essay in the philosophy of mind








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© Cambridge University Press 1983

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,

no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 1983

Reprinted 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999

Printed in the United States of America

Typeset in Garamond

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Catalog card number: 82-19849

ISBN 0-521-27302-1 paperback












I 13

II 15

A comparison of some of the formal features of the Intentionality of seeing, believing, desiring, and remembering  17

III 17

IV.. 18

Fig. 1. 18

Fig. 2. 18

Fig. 3. 18

Fig. 4. 18

V.. 19

VI 19

VII 22



I 23

II 24

III 24

IV.. 26

A comparison of the forms of Intentionality involved in seeing a flower and remembering a flower on the one hand, and (prior) intending to raise one's arm and raising one's arm on the other 27

V.. 28

VI 29

VII 30


I 31

II 33

III 35

IV.. 36

V.. 37

Chapter 5. THE BACKGROUND.. 38



(i) The understanding of literal meaning. 39

(ii) The understanding of metaphor 40

(iii) Physical skills 40





Chapter 6. MEANING.. 42









(i) How do indexical expressions work?. 57

(ii) How this account answers the objection to an internalist account of indexicals 58







Example I: The Gödel/Schmidt case (Kripke) 64

Example 2: Thales the well digger (Donnellan)23 64

Example 3: The two patches (Donnellan)24 64

Example 4: The twin earth (Putnam et al.)25 65










page vi





The nature of Intentional states



The Intentionality of perception



Intention and action



Intentional causation



The Background






Intensional reports of Intentional states and speech acts



Are meanings in the head?



Proper names and Intentionality



Epilogue: Intentionality and the brain



Subject index



Name index



I am indebted to a large number of people and institutions for help with this book. I want first to thank the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the University of California Humanities Institute, the Est Foundation, the Committee on Research of the University of California Academic Senate, and the A. P. Sloan Foundation for financial assistance at various times in the preparation of this and other related works. All of this material has been presented in lectures and university courses at Berkeley and other universities, and I am grateful to my students in Berkeley, Boulder, and Campinas, for their reactions. Special thanks are due to Ami Kronfeld, David Reier, Jim Stone, Vanessa Whang, Steven White, and Steve Yablo. Several colleagues and friends read portions of the manuscript and made helpful comments: I especially want to thank Ned Block, Sylvain Bromberger, Tyler Burge, Alan Code, Donald Davidson, Dagfinn FØllesdal,, David Kaplan, Benjamin Libet, George Myro, Thomas Nagel, William Reinhardt, and Hans Sluga. For comments which affected the content of the text my greatest debts are to Hubert Dreyfus and especially to Christine Skarda. Most of all I thank my wife Dagmar Searle for her constant help and advice.



The primary aim of this book is to develop a theory of Intentionality. I hesitate to call it a general theory because a large number of topics, e.g., the emotions, are left undiscussed, but I do believe the approach here presented will prove useful for explaining Intentional phenomena generally.

This book is the third in a series of related studies of mind and language. One of its objectives is to provide a foundation for my two earlier books, Speech Acts (Cambridge University Press, 1969) and Expression and Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 1979), as well as for future investigations of these topics. A basic assumption behind my approach to problems of language is that the philosophy of language is a branch of the philosophy of mind. The capacity of speech acts to represent objects and states of affairs in the world is an extension of the more biologically fundamental capacities of the mind (or brain) to relate the organism to the world by way of such mental states as belief and desire, and especially through action and perception. Since speech acts are a type of human action, and since the capacity of speech to represent objects and states of affairs is part of a more general capacity of the mind to relate the organism to the world, any complete account of speech and language requires an account of how the mind/brain relates the organism to reality.

Since sentences - the sounds that come out of one's mouth or the marks that one makes on paper - are, considered in one way, just objects in the world like any other objects, their capacity to represent is not intrinsic but is derived from the Intentionality of the mind. The Intentionality of mental states, on the other hand, is not derived from some more prior forms of Intentionality but is intrinsic to the states themselves. An agent uses a sentence to make a statement or ask a question, but he does not in that way use his beliefs and desires, he simply has them. A sentence is a syntactical



find interesting agreements and disagreements with their favorite authors. Perhaps they are right in their understanding of the relation between this book and the Intentionalist tradition, but with the exception of my explicit responses and my obvious debts to Frege and Wittgenstein, it has not been my aim in this book to respond to that tradition.

Where questions of style and exposition are concerned I try to follow a simple maxim: if you can't say it clearly you don't understand it yourself. But anyone who attempts to write clearly runs the risk of being 'understood' too quickly, and the quickest form of such understanding is to pigeonhole the author with a whole lot of other authors that the reader is already familiar with.

Some of the ideas in this book have appeared in preliminary versions in articles by me. Since several reviewers of Speech Acts complained that some of the ideas had already appeared in articles, a word of explanation is in order. I find it very useful to try out ideas in a preliminary form, both for the sake of formulating the ideas and to elicit comments and criticism. Such articles are like an artist's preliminary sketches for a larger canvas. They can stand on their own, but they also function as stages on the way to the larger picture. The hard work comes not only in trying to get each part right, but also in making all the parts cohere in the general conception.

One nagging problem remains that is not addressed directly in the book, but was one of my main reasons for wanting to write it. Ordinary human behavior has proven peculiarly recalcitrant to explanation by the methods of the natural sciences. Why? Why is it that the methods of the natural sciences have not given results comparable to physics and chemistry when applied to the study of individual and collective human behavior? There are many attempts to answer this question in contemporary philosophy, none of them in my view completely satisfactory. I believe that the direction of the correct answer lies in seeing the role of Intentionality in the structure of action; not just in the description of action, but in the very structure of human behavior. I hope to discuss the explanation of human behavior at greater length in a subsequent study. This book gives only some of the tools for such a discussion.




As a preliminary formulation we might say: Intentionality is that property of many mental states and events by which they are directed at or about or of objects and states of affairs in the world. If, for example, I have a belief, it must be a belief that such and such is the case; if I have a fear, it must be a fear of something or that something will occur; if I have a desire, it must be a desire to do something or that something should happen or be the case; if I have an intention, it must be an intention to do something. And so on through a large number of other cases. I follow a long philosophical tradition in calling this feature of directedness or aboutness "Intentionality", but in many respects the term is misleading and the tradition something of a mess, so at the very beginning I want to make it clear how I intend to use the term and in so doing to dissociate myself from certain features of the tradition.

First, on my account only some, not all, mental states and events have Intentionality. Beliefs, fears, hopes, and desires are Intentional; but there are forms of nervousness, elation, and undirected anxiety that are not Intentional. A clue to this distinction is provided by the constraints on how these states are reported. If I tell you I have a belief or a desire, it always makes sense for you to ask, "What is it exactly that you believe?" or "What is it that you desire? "; and it won't do for me to say, " Oh I just have a belief and a desire without believing anything or desiring anything". My beliefs and desires must always be about something. But my nervousness and undirected anxiety need not in that way be about anything. Such states are characteristically accompanied by beliefs and desires, but undirected states are not identical with beliefs or desires. On my account if a state S is Intentional then there must be



Here are a few examples of states that can be Intentional states: belief, fear, hope, desire, love, hate, aversion, liking, disliking, doubting, wondering whether, joy, elation, depression, anxiety, pride, remorse, sorrow, grief, guilt, rejoicing, irritation, puzzlement, acceptance, forgiveness, hostility, affection, expectation, anger, admiration, contempt, respect, indignation, intention, wishing, wanting, imagining, fantasy, shame, lust, disgust, animosity, terror, pleasure, abhorrence, aspiration, amusement, and disappointment.

It is characteristic of the members of this set that they either are essentially directed as in the case of love, hate, belief, and desire or at least they can be directed as in the case of depression and elation. This set raises a rather large number of questions. For example, how can we classify its members, and what are the relations between the members? But the question I now want to concentrate on is this: What exactly is the relation between Intentional states and the objects and states of affairs that they are in some sense about or directed at? What kind of a relation is named by "Intentionality" anyhow and how can we explain Intentionality without using metaphors like "directed"?

Notice that Intentionality cannot be an ordinary relation like sitting on top of something or hitting it with one's fist because for a large number of Intentional states I can be in the Intentional state without the object or state of affairs that the Intentional state is "directed at" even existing. I can hope that it is raining even if it isn't raining and I can believe that the King of France is bald even if there is no such person as the King of France.


In this section I want to explore some of the connections between Intentional states and speech acts in order to answer the question, "What is the relationship between the Intentional state and the object or state of affairs that it is in some sense directed at?" To anticipate a bit, the answer that I am going to propose to that question is quite simple: Intentional states represent objects and states of affairs in the same sense of "represent" that speech acts represent objects and states of affairs (even though, as we will see in



state is to be satisfied. For this reason the specification of the content is already a specification of the conditions of satisfaction. Thus, if I have a belief that it is raining, the content of my belief is: that it is raining. And the conditions of satisfaction are: that it is raining -and not, for example, that the ground is wet or that water is falling out of the sky. Since all representation - whether done by the mind, language, pictures or anything else - is always under certain aspects and not others, the conditions of satisfaction are represented under certain aspects.

The expression "conditions of satisfaction" has the usual process-product ambiguity as between the requirement and the thing required. So, for example, if I believe that it is raining then the conditions of satisfaction of my belief are that it should be the case that it is raining (requirement). That is what my belief requires in order that it be a true belief. And if my belief actually is a true belief then there will be a certain condition in the world, namely the condition that it is raining (thing required), which is the condition of satisfaction of my belief, i.e., the condition in the world which actually satisfies my belief. I think this ambiguity is quite harmless, indeed useful, provided that one is aware of it from the start. However, in some of the commentaries on my earlier works on Intentionality, it has led to misunderstandings;5 so in contexts where the two senses might seem to lead to misunderstandings, I will mark the two senses explicitly.

Leaving out the various qualifications we might summarize this brief preliminary account of Intentionality by saying that the key to understanding representation is conditions of satisfaction. Every Intentional state with a direction of fit is a representation of its conditions of satisfaction.


As soon as one states these views a whole host of questions come crowding in: What shall we say about those Intentional states that do not have a direction of fit? Are they representations too? And, if

5 In, e.g., J. M. Mohanty, 'Intentionality and noema', journal of Philosophy, vol. 78, no. 11 (November 1981), p. 714.

so, what are their conditions of satisfaction? And what about fantasy and imagination? What do they represent? And what about the Ontological status of all this stuff - are these Intentional states mysterious mental entities and have we not also populated the world with 'states of affairs' in order to satisfy these mental entities? And what about intensionality-with-an-s, how does it fit in? And what about the traditional notion of an "Intentional object" with its alleged "intentional inexistence" (Brentano)? Furthermore there are some more skeptical objections. Surely, one might object, every representation requires some intentional act on the part of an agent who does the representing. Representing requires a representer and an intentional act of representation and therefore representation requires Intentionality and cannot be used to explain it. And more ominously, haven't the various arguments about the causal theory of reference shown that these mental entities 'in the head' are insufficient to show how language and mind refer to things in the world?

Well, one can't answer all questions at once, and in this section I will confine myself to answering a few of these questions in such a way as to extend and apply the preliminary statement of the theory. My aim is double. I want to show how this approach to Intentionality answers certain traditional philosophical difficulties and in so doing I want to extend and develop the theory.

i. One advantage to this approach, by no means a minor one, is that it enables us to distinguish clearly between the logical properties of Intentional states and their Ontological status; indeed, on this account, the question concerning the logical nature of Intentionality is not an Ontological problem at all. What, for example, is a belief really? The traditional answers to this assume that the question asks about the Ontological category into which beliefs fit, but what is important as far as the Intentionality of belief is concerned is not its Ontological category but its logical properties. Some of the favorite traditional answers are that a belief is a modification of a Cartesian ego, Humean ideas floating around in the mind, causal dispositions to behave in certain ways, or a functional state of a system. I happen to think that all of these answers are false, but for present purposes the important thing to note is that they are answers to a different question. If the question " What is a belief really?" is taken to mean: what is a belief qua belief?,



features of the representation being represented and not on the things represented by the original representation. But of course from the fact that my belief about John's belief is an intensional-with-an-s belief it does not follow that John's belief is an intensional-with-an-s belief. To repeat, his belief is extensional; my belief about his belief is intensional.

(b) So far I have tried to explain the Intentionality of mental states by appealing to our understanding of speech acts. But of course the feature of speech acts that I have been appealing to is precisely their representative properties, that is to say, their Intentionality-with-a-t. So the notion of Intentionality-with-a-t applies equally well both to mental states and to linguistic entities such as speech acts and sentences, not to mention maps, diagrams, laundry lists, pictures, and a host of other things.

And it is for this reason that the explanation of Intentionality offered in this chapter is not a logical analysis in the sense of giving necessary and sufficient conditions in terms of simpler notions. If we tried to treat the explanation as an analysis it would be hopelessly circular since the feature of speech acts that I have been using to explain the Intentionality of certain mental states is precisely the Intentionality of speech acts. In my view it is not possible to give a logical analysis of the Intentionality of the mental in terms of simpler notions, since Intentionality is, so to speak, a ground floor property of the mind, not a logically complex feature built up by combining simpler elements. There is no neutral standpoint from which we can survey the relations between Intentional states and the world and then describe them in non-Intentionalistic terms. Any explanation of Intentionality, therefore, takes place within the circle of Intentional concepts. My strategy has been to use our understanding of how speech acts work to explain how the Intentionality of the mental works, but this now raises our next question: What is the relationship between the Intentionality of the mental and the Intentionality of the linguistic?


There is one obvious disanalogy between Intentional states and speech acts, which is suggested by the very terminology we have



that sentence seems to require or at least invite completion in the form "by uttering such-and-such" or "by saying such-and-such John means that p". John couldn't mean that p unless he was saying or doing something by way of which he meant that p, whereas John can simply believe that p without doing anything. Meaning that p isn't an Intentional state that can stand on its own in the way that believing that p is. In order to mean that p, there must be some overt action. When we come to "John stated that p" the overt action is made explicit. Stating is an act, unlike believing and meaning, which are not acts. Stating is an illocutionary act that, at another level of description, is an utterance act. It is the performance of the utterance act with a certain set of intentions that converts the utterance act into an illocutionary act and thus imposes Intentionality on the utterance. More about this in Chapter 6.


Many philosophers think that belief and desire are somehow the basic Intentional states, and in this section I want to explore some of the reasons for and against claiming primacy for these two. I shall construe them very broadly to encompass, in the case of belief: feeling certain, having a hunch, supposing, and many other degrees of conviction; and, in the case of desire: wanting, wishing, lusting and hankering after, and many other degrees of desire. Notice initially that even in these lists there are differences other than mere degrees of intensity. It makes good sense to say of something I believe I have done


I wish I hadn't done it


but it is bad English to say


I want/desire I hadn't done it.


So in construing "desire" broadly we will need to allow for cases of "desire" directed at states of affairs known or believed to have occurred in the past, as when I wish I hadn't done something or am glad I did something else. Recognizing these departures from ordinary English, let us name two broad categories, which we will dub "Bel" and "Des", and see how basic they are. Let us see how



In addition to the reasons for rejecting the conjunction analysis, the greatest limitations on explaining Intentionality in terms of Bel and Des seem to me, first, that the analysis is not fine grained enough to distinguish between Intentional states that are importantly different. For example, being annoyed that p, being sad that p, and being sorry that p are all cases of


Bel (p) & Des (~p)


but they are clearly not the same states. Furthermore, with some states one cannot get very far with this sort of analysis. For example, if I am amused that the Democrats have lost the election, I must Bel that they have lost the election, but what else? I need have no Des's one way or the other, and I needn't even Bel that the whole situation is au fond amusing, even though I personally admit to being amused.

Nonetheless, I believe that the power and scope of an approach to Intentionality in terms of conditions of satisfaction will become more apparent as we turn in the next two chapters to what I take to be the biologically primary forms of Intentionality, perception and action. Their Intentional contents differ from beliefs and desires in a crucial respect: they have Intentional causation in their conditions of satisfaction and this will have consequences we cannot yet clearly state. Beliefs and desires are not the primary forms, rather they are etiolated forms of more primordial experiences in perceiving and doing. Intention, for example, is not a fancy form of desire; it would be more accurate to think of desire as a faded form of intention, intention with the Intentional causation bleached out.




Traditionally the "problem of perception" has been the problem of how our internal perceptual experiences are related to the external world. I believe we ought to be very suspicious of this way of formulating the problem, since the spatial metaphor for internal and external, or inner and outer, resists any clear interpretation. If my body including all of its internal parts is part of the external world, as it surely is, then where is the internal world supposed to be? In what space is it internal relative to the external world? In what sense exactly are my perceptual experiences ' in here ' and the world 'out there'? Nonetheless these metaphors are persistent and perhaps even inevitable, and for that reason they reveal certain underlying assumptions we will need to explore.

My aim in this chapter is not, except incidentally, to discuss the traditional problem of perception, but rather to place an account of perceptual experiences within the context of the theory of Intentionality that was outlined in the last chapter. Like most philosophers who talk about perception, I will give examples mostly concerning vision, though the account, if correct, should be general in its application.

When I stand and look at a car, let us say a yellow station wagon, in broad daylight, at point blank range, with no visual impediments, I see the car. How does the seeing work? Well, there is a long story about how it works in physical optics and in neurophysiology, but that is not what I mean. I mean how does it work conceptually; what are the elements that go to make up the truth conditions of sentences of the form "x sees y" where x is a perceiver, human or animal, and y is, for example, a material object? When I see a car, or anything else for that matter, I have a certain sort of visual experience. In the visual perception of the car I don't



the objects of our perceptions plays a different sort of role than it does in other Intentional states. In visual perception the aspect under which an object is perceived is fixed by the point of view, and the other physical features of the perceptual situation, in which the object is perceived. For example, given a certain position, I can't help but see the left side of the station wagon. To see the car under some other aspect I would have to alter the physical features of the perceptual situation by, for example, walking around the car or moving it.

Furthermore, in the non-perceptual cases, though the Intentional object is always represented by way of some aspect or other, it is nonetheless the object itself that is represented and not just an aspect. That, incidentally, is why there is nothing ontologically fishy about Intentional objects on my account. The aspect under which an object is represented is not something that gets between us and the object. But in at least some cases of visual perception the situation does not seem to be quite so simple. Consider, for example, Wittgenstein's familiar duck/rabbit example.6

In this case we are inclined to say that in one sense the Intentional object is the same both in our perception of the duck and in our perception of the rabbit. That is, though we have two visual experiences with two different presentational contents, there is only one picture on the page before us. But in another sense we want to say that the Intentional object of the visual experience is different in the two cases. What is seen is in one case a picture duck and in the other case a picture rabbit. Now Wittgenstein copes, or rather fails to cope, with this difficulty simply by saying that these are different uses of the verb "see". But that doesn't seem to be very much help in clarifying the relation of aspects to Intentional

6 L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1953). Part II, section 10.



If the subject expects that the next color he is going to see is red, he will recognize it much more quickly than if he has no such expectation.

But secondly and more importantly from our point of view, many of our visual experiences aren't even possible without the mastery of certain Background skills and prominent among them are linguistic skills. Consider the following figure:

This can be seen as the word "TOOT", as a table with two large balloons underneath, as the numeral 1001 with a line over the top, as a bridge with two pipelines crossing underneath, as the eyes of a man wearing a hat with a string hanging down each side, and so on. In each case, we have a different experience even though the purely physical visual stimuli, the lines on the paper in front of us and the light reflected from them, are constant. But these experiences and the differences between them are dependent on our having mastered a series of linguistically impregnated cultural skills. It is not the failure, for example, of my dog's optical apparatus that prevents him from seeing this figure as the word "TOOT". In such a case one wants to say that a certain conceptual mastery is a precondition of having visual experience; and such cases suggest that the Intentionality of visual perception is tied up in all sorts of complicated ways with other forms of Intentionality such as belief and expectation, and also with our systems of representation, most notably language. Both the Network of Intentional states and the Background of non-representational mental capacities affect perception.

But if the Network and the Background affect perception, how can the conditions of satisfaction be determined by the visual experience? There are at least three sorts of cases we will need to discuss. First, there are cases where the Network of beliefs and the Background actually affect the content of the visual experience. Consider, for example, the difference between looking at the front of a house where one takes it to be the front of a whole house and



conditions of satisfaction. But I think in fact that is not the right way to describe the situation. Rather, it seems to me that where the Intentional content of our visual experience is in conflict with our beliefs, and where the beliefs override the visual experience, we nonetheless have the original Intentional content of the visual experience. The visual experiences do indeed have as part of their respective Intentional contents that the moon is smaller overhead than it is on the horizon, and the argument for this is that if we imagine that the visual experiences remained as they are now, but that the beliefs were absent, that we simply had no relevant beliefs, then we really would be inclined to believe that the moon had changed in size. It is only because we believe independently that the moon remains constant in size that we allow the Intentionality of belief to override the Intentionality of our visual experience. In these cases we believe that our eyes deceive us. A similar example is the Muller-Lyer lines:

where the Intentional content of the visual experience is in conflict with and is overridden by the Intentional content of our beliefs. These cases are in sharp contrast to the phenomenon of perceived color constancy under different lighting conditions. In the color constancy case the color looks the same in both light and shadow, even though the light reflected is quite different; and thus the content of the belief and the content of the perceptual experience are consistent, unlike the previous cases.

A third sort of case is where the visual experiences differ but the conditions of satisfaction are the same. Our "TOOT" example is of this type. Another example of this would be seeing a triangle first with one point as apex and then with another point as apex. In these last two examples we are not in the least inclined to think that anything is different in the real world corresponding to the differences in the experiences.

We have then a variety of ways in which the Network and Background of Intentionality are related to the character of the


visual experience, and the character of the visual experience is related to its conditions of satisfaction.

1. The house example: Different beliefs cause different visual experiences with different conditions of satisfaction, even given the same optical stimuli.

2. The moon example: The same beliefs coexist with different visual experiences with different conditions of satisfaction even though the content of the experiences is inconsistent with the content of the beliefs and is overridden by the beliefs.

3. The triangle and "TOOT" examples: The same beliefs plus different visual experiences yield the same conditions of satisfaction of the visual experiences.

One feels there ought to be a systematic theoretical account of the relations between these various parameters, but I do not know what it is.


The account of visual perception that I have been arguing for so far is, I guess, a version of 'naive' (direct, common sense) realism and it can be represented diagrammatically as follows:

Fig. 1

This visual perception involves at least three elements: the perceiver, the visual experience, and the object (more strictly: the state of affairs) perceived. The fact that an arrow represents the visual perception is meant to indicate that the visual experience has Intentional content, it is directed at the Intentional object, whose existence is part of its conditions of satisfaction (it is not of course meant to suggest that the visual experience exists in the physical space between the perceiver and the object).

In the case of visual hallucination the perceiver has the same


visual experience but no Intentional object is present. This case can be represented diagrammatically as in figure 2.

Fig. 2

It is not my aim in this chapter to enter into the traditional disputes concerning the philosophy of perception; however, the thesis I am arguing for concerning the Intentionality of visual experience will perhaps be clearer if we digress a moment to contrast this naive realist view with its great historical rivals, the representative theory and phenomenalism. Both of these theories differ from naive realism in that they both treat the visual experience as itself the object of visual perception and thus they strip it of its Intentionality. According to them what is seen is always, strictly speaking, a visual experience (in various terminologies the visual experience has been called a "sensum" or a "sense datum", or an "impression"). They are thus confronted with a question that does not arise for the naive realist: What is the relationship between the sense data which we do see and the material object which apparently we do not see? This question does not arise for the naive realist because on his account we do not see sense data at all. We see material objects and other objects and states of affairs in the world, at least much of the time; and in the hallucination cases we don't see anything, though we do indeed have visual experiences in both cases. Both the phenomenalists and the representative theorists try to drive the line that represents the visual experience in Figure 1 out of the horizontal axis and into the vertical so that the vehicle of the Intentional content of our visual perception, the visual experience, becomes itself the object of visual perception. The numerous arguments that have been presented for this move, notably the arguments from illusion and the argument from science, have been in my view effectively refuted by other philosophers,8 and I will not rehearse the arguments here. The

8 See, e.g., J. L. Austin, Sense and Sensibilia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), for a discussion of the argument from illusion.


point for the purposes of the present argument is simply that once one has driven the visual experience line out of the horizontal axis and into the vertical axis in such a way that the visual experience becomes the object of perception one is then confronted with a choice as to how one is to describe the relationship between the sense datum that, according to this theory, one does perceive and the material object that one apparently does not perceive. The two favorite solutions to the problem are that the visual experience or sense datum is in some sense a copy or representation of the material object (this is the representative theory) or that the object somehow just is a collection of sense data (and this, in its various versions, is phenomenalism), each of these theories can be represented diagrammatically as in figures 3 and 4.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Even if we ignore the various objections that have been made to the view that all one ever perceives are sense data, it still seems to me that there are other decisive objections against each of these theories. The main difficulty with a representative theory of perception is that the notion of resemblance between the things we perceive, the sense data, and the thing that the sense data represent, the material object, must be unintelligible since the object term is by definition inaccessible to the senses. It is absolutely invisible and otherwise imperceptible. As Berkeley pointed out, it makes no sense to say that the shape and color we see resemble the shape and color of an object which is absolutely invisible or otherwise



"x really is φ" can be established by visual inspection. To the extent that "x really is φ" cannot be established by visual inspection, then to that extent φ is not the name of a visual feature And indeed the sentence form "x looks φ" can itself report a purely visual feature independent of φ.




In the course of our discussion of the Intentionality of mental states such as belief and desire and mental events such as visual experiences, we have developed a fairly extensive conceptual apparatus for analyzing problems of Intentionality, an apparatus that includes the notions of Intentional content, psychological mode, conditions of satisfaction, direction of fit, causal self-referentiality, direction of causation, Network, Background, and the distinction between presentations and other sorts of representations. The explanation of Intentionality in terms of these notions is not intended to be reductive, since each is an Intentional notion. We are not trying to show that Intentionality is really something else, but rather to explain it in terms of a family of notions each of which is explained independently, usually by way of examples. To repeat: there is no nonintentional standpoint from which we can survey the relations between Intentional states and their conditions of satisfaction. Any analysis must take place from within the circle of Intentional concepts.

The aim of this chapter is to explore the relations between intentions and actions, using this apparatus. At first sight intentions and actions seem to fit very neatly into the system. We are inclined to say: Just as my belief is satisfied iff the state of affairs represented by the content of the belief actually obtains, and my desire is satisfied iff the state of affairs represented by the content of the desire comes to pass, so my intention is satisfied iff the action represented by the content of the intention is actually performed. If I believe that I will vote for Jones, my belief will be true iff I vote for Jones, if I desire to vote for Jones my desire will be fulfilled iff I vote for Jones, and if I intend to vote for Jones my intention will be carried out iff I vote for Jones. Besides these 'semantic' parallels, there are also syntactical parallels in the sentences reporting




visual perception

intentional action

Intentional component

visual experience

experience of acting

Conditions of satisfaction of the Intentional component

that there be objects, states of affairs, etc., having certain features and certain causal relations to the visual experience

that there be certain bodily movements, states, etc., of the agent, and that these have certain causal relations to the experience of acting

Direction of fit



Direction of causation

world-to-mind (i.e., the presence of features of the object cause the experience)

mind-to-world (i.e., the experience causes the movements)

Corresponding features of the world

objects and states of affairs

movements and states of the agent

The parallel between the Intentionality of visual perception and the Intentionality of intentional action can be made explicit in the accompanying table.


So far I have made three claims: first that there is a distinction between prior intentions and intentions in action; second that both are causally self-referential; and third that the action, for example, of raising one's arm, contains two components, the experience of acting (which has a form of Intentionality that is both presentational and causal), and the event of one's arm going up. Next I want to put these conclusions into a general account of the relations of prior intentions, intentions in action, and actions.

The Intentional content of the intention in action and the experience of acting are identical. Indeed, as far as Intentionality is concerned, the experience of acting just is the intention in action. Why then do we need both notions? Because the experience of acting is a conscious experience with an Intentional content, and the intention in action just is the Intentional component, regard-



Well, if the content of the prior intention and the intention in action are so different, how do they ever - so to speak - get together? In fact the relationship is quite simple as we can see by unpacking the content of the prior intention and making explicit the nature of the causal self-reference of the prior intention. Since the whole action is represented as a unit by the prior intention and since the action consists of two components, the experience of acting and the physical movement, in order to make the content of the prior intention fully explicit we can represent each component separately. Furthermore, since both the self-reference of the prior intention and the self-reference of the intention in action are causal,11 the prior intention causes the intention in action which causes the movement. By transitivity of Intentional causation we can say that the prior intention causes both the intention in action and the movement, and, since this combination is simply the action, we can say that the prior intention causes the action. The picture that emerges is this:

This also enables us to see what was wrong in the Chisholm-style counterexamples I presented earlier. For example, Bill had the prior intention to kill his uncle and his intention caused him to kill his uncle but his prior intention didn't cause an intention in action that presented the killing of his uncle as Intentional object, it just presented his driving his car or some such. (More about this later.) Since, as we have seen, the form of self-reference of the prior intention is causal and since the representation of the action can be

11 It is perhaps worth emphasizing that this view does not imply determinism. When one acts on one's desires or carries out one's prior intention, the desire and intention function causally, but it is not necessarily the case that one could not have done otherwise, that one simply could not help oneself.



A comparison of the forms of Intentionality involved in seeing a flower and remembering a flower on the one hand, and (prior) intending to raise one's arm and raising one's arm on the other


visual perception


intentional action

prior intention

How reported

I see the flower

I remember seeing the flower

I am raising my arm

I intend to raise my arm

Nature of the Intentional component

visual experience


intention in action ( = experience of acting)

prior intention

Presentation or representation





Conditions of satisfaction of the Intentional component

that there be a state of affairs that the flower is present and that this state of affairs causes this visual experience

that there be an event of seeing the flower consisting of two components, the state of affairs that the flower is present and the visual experience, and the event causes this memory

that there be an event of my arm raising and this intention in action causes that event

that there be an action of raising my arm consisting of two components, the event of the arm raising and the intention in action, and this prior intention causes the action

Direction of fit





Direction of causation





Nature of the self-reference of the Intentional component

as part of the conditions of satisfaction of the visual experience, it must be caused by the rest of its own conditions of satisfaction

as part of the conditions of satisfaction of the memory, it must be caused by the rest of its own conditions of satisfaction

as part of the conditions of satisfaction of the intention in action it must cause the rest of its own conditions of satisfaction

as part of the conditions of satisfaction of the prior intention it must cause the rest of its own conditions of satisfaction

Corresponding objects and events in the world (Intentional objects)


flower event of seeing the flower

movement of the arm

movement of the arm action of raising the arm



action. Suppose, for example, Bill's intention to kill his uncle causes him to have a stomachache and his stomachache makes him so angry that he forgets all about his original intention but in his rage he kills the first man he sees whom he recognizes as his uncle. The elimination of these counterexamples, along with some other counterexamples concerning the Intentionality of perceptual experiences, will have to wait until we can give an account of Intentional causation in Chapter 4.




In the philosophy of mind there is an uneasy relation between Intentionality and causality. Causality is generally regarded as a natural relation between events in the world; Intentionality is regarded in a variety of ways but not generally as a natural phenomenon, as much a part of the natural order as any other biological phenomenon. Intentionality is often regarded as something transcendental, something that stands over or beyond, but is not a part of the natural world. But what then of the relation between Intentionality and causality? Can Intentional states act causally? And what causes them? I have several aims in this chapter, but a primary one is to take a step toward Intentionalizing causality and, therefore, toward naturalizing Intentionality. I begin this enterprise by examining some of the roots of the modern ideology of causation.

In the overworked philosophical example (and the recurrence of these same examples in philosophy ought to arouse our suspicions) billiard ball A makes its inevitable way across the green table, where it strikes billiard ball B, at which point B starts to move and A ceases to move. This little scene, endlessly re-enacted, is the paradigm of causality: the event of A's striking B caused the event of B's moving. And, according to the traditional view, when we witness this scene we don't actually see, or otherwise observe, any causal connections between the first event and the second. What we actually observe is one event followed by another event. We can, however, observe the repetition of similar pairs of events and this constant repetition gives us the right to say that the two members of the pairs are causally related even though we cannot observe any causal relation.

There is a metaphysical theory deeply embedded in this brief account, and even though theories of causation vary a great deal



really work; thus we insist that the Intentionality must not be epiphenomenal. And we insist that the Intentionality must work with enough regularity and consistency to fit into our overall plans and expectations. I have expressed these two conditions as a way of explaining the meaning of "in the right way" by saying that the Intentional content must be a causally relevant aspect and it must exemplify a plannable regularity.



Intentional states with a direction of fit have contents which determine their conditions of satisfaction. But they do not function in an independent or atomistic fashion, for each Intentional state has its content and determines its conditions of satisfaction only in relation to numerous other Intentional states.1 We saw this in the case of the man who forms the intention to run for the Presidency of the United States. He would normally believe, for example, that the United States is a republic, that it has periodic elections, that in these elections the candidates of two major parties vie for the Presidency, and so on. And he would normally desire that he receive the nomination of his party, that people work for his candidacy, that voters cast votes for him, and so on. Perhaps no one of these is essential to the man's intention, and certainly the existence of none of them is entailed by the statement that the man has the intention to run for the Presidency of the United States. Nonetheless, without some such Network of Intentional states the man could not have formed what we would call "the intention to run for the Presidency of the United States ". We might say that his intention ' refers ' to these other Intentional states in the sense that it can only have the conditions of satisfaction that it does, and thus can only be the intention that it is, because it is located in a Network of other beliefs and desires. Furthermore, in any real life situation, the beliefs and desires are only part of a larger complex of still other psychological states; there will be subsidiary intentions as well as hopes and fears, anxieties and anticipations, feelings of frustration and satisfaction. For short, I have been calling this entire holistic network, simply, the "Network".

1 I am discussing human Intentional states such as perceptions, beliefs, desires, and intentions. Perhaps there might be more biologically primitive Intentional states which do not require a Network, or perhaps not even a Background.



I believe that anyone who tries seriously to follow out the threads in the Network will eventually reach a bedrock of mental capacities that do not themselves consist in Intentional states (representations), but nonetheless form the preconditions for the functioning of Intentional states. The Background is "preintentional" in the sense that though not a form or forms of Intentionality, it is nonetheless a precondition or set of preconditions of Intentionality. I do not know how to demonstrate this hypothesis conclusively, though in this chapter I will explore it and try to present some arguments in favor of it.


The Background is a set of nonrepresentational mental capacities that enable all representing to take place. Intentional states only have the conditions of satisfaction that they do, and thus only are the states that they are, against a Background of abilities that are not themselves Intentional states. In order that I can now have the Intentional states that I do I must have certain kinds of know-how: I must know how things are and I must know how to do things, but the kinds of "know-how" in question are not, in these cases, forms of "knowing that".

To illustrate this point consider another example. Think of what is necessary, what must be the case, in order that I can now form the intention to go to the refrigerator and get a bottle of cold beer to drink. The biological and cultural resources that I must bring to bear on this task, even to form the intention to perform the task, are (considered in a certain light) truly staggering. But without these resources I could not form the intention at all: standing, walking, opening and closing doors, manipulating bottles, glass, refrigerators, opening, pouring and drinking. The activation of these capacities would normally involve presentations and representations, e.g., I have to see the door in order to open the door, but the ability to recognize the door and the ability to open the door are not themselves further representations. It is such nonrepresentational capacities that constitute the Background.

A minimal geography of the Background would include at least the following: we need to distinguish what we might call the "deep Background", which would include at least all of those Background capacities that are common to all normal human



Let the "hypothesis of the Background" be the claim that Intentional states are underlain by nonrepresentational, preintentional capacities in the manner I have sketched above. How would one show that such a claim is true? And what empirical difference would such a claim make anyway? I know of no demonstrative arguments that would prove the existence of the Background. Perhaps the best way to argue for the hypothesis of the Background is to explain to the reader how I became convinced of


it myself. This conviction was the result of a series of more or less independent investigations, the cumulative effect of which was to produce a belief in the hypothesis of the Background.

(i) The understanding of literal meaning

The understanding of the literal meaning of sentences, from the simplest sentences, such as "The cat is on the mat", to the most complex sentences of the physical sciences, requires a preintentional Background. For example, the sentence "The cat is on the mat" only determines a definite set of truth conditions against a Background of preintentional assumptions that are not part of the literal meaning of the sentence. This is shown by the fact that, if we alter the preintentional Background, the same sentence with the same literal meaning will determine different truth conditions, different conditions of satisfaction, even though there is no change in the literal meaning of the sentence. This has the consequence that the notion of the literal meaning of a sentence is not a context-free notion; it only has application relative to a set of preintentional Background assumptions and practices.2

Perhaps the best way to argue this point is to show how the same literal meaning will determine different truth conditions given different Backgrounds, and, given some Backgrounds, sentences which are semantically impeccable from the classical point of view are simply incomprehensible, they determine no clear set of truth conditions. Consider the occurrence of the verb "open" in the following five English sentences, each of which is a substitution instance of the open sentence "X opened Y":

Tom opened the door

Sally opened her eyes

The carpenters opened the wall

Sam opened his book to page 37

The surgeon opened the wound.

It seems clear to me that the word "open" has the same literal meaning in all five of these occurrences. Anyone who denied this

2 For a detailed discussion of examples, see 'Literal meaning', in J. R. Searle, Expression and Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).



and ski my mountains. Now in addition to all of these activities, each a manifestation of my Intentionality, there isn't a further 'hypothesis' that the real world exists. My commitment to the existence of the real world is manifested whenever I do pretty much anything. It is a mistake to treat that commitment as if it were a hypothesis, as if in addition to skiing, drinking, eating, etc., I held a belief- there is a real world independent of my representations of it. Once we misconstrue the functioning of the Background in this way, that is once we treat that which is preintentional as if it were a sort of Intentionality, it immediately becomes problematic. It seems I could never show or demonstrate that there existed a real world independent of my representations of it. But of course I could never show or demonstrate that, since any showing or demonstrating presupposes the Background, and the Background is the embodiment of my commitment to realism. Contemporary discussions of realism are, for the most part, strictly senseless, because the very posing of the question, or indeed of any question at all, presupposes the preintentional realism of the Background. There can't be a fully meaningful question "Is there a real world independent of my representations of it?" because the very having of representations can only exist against a Background which gives representations the character of "representing something". This is not to say that realism is a true hypothesis, rather it is to say that it is not a hypothesis at all, but the precondition of having hypotheses.


Chapter 6. MEANING


The approach taken to Intentionality in this book is resolutely naturalistic, I think of Intentional states, processes, and events as part of our biological life history in the way that digestion, growth, and the secretion of bile are part of our biological life history. From an evolutionary point of view, just as there is an order of priority in the development of other biological processes, so there is an order of priority in the development of Intentional phenomena. In this development, language and meaning, at least in the sense in which humans have language and meaning, comes very late. Many species other than humans have sensory perception and intentional action, and several species, certainly the primates, have beliefs, desires, and intentions, but very few species, perhaps only humans, have the peculiar but also biologically based form of Intentionality we associate with language and meaning.

Intentionality differs from other sorts of biological phenomena in that it has a logical structure, and just as there are evolutionary priorities, so there are logical priorities. A natural consequence of the biological approach advocated in this book is to regard meaning, in the sense in which speakers mean something by their utterances, as a special development of more primitive forms of Intentionality. So construed, speakers' meaning should be entirely definable in terms of more primitive forms of Intentionality. And the definition is nontrivial in this sense: we define speakers' meaning in terms of forms of Intentionality that are not intrinsically linguistic. If, for example, we can define meaning in terms of intentions we will have defined a linguistic notion in terms of a nonlinguistic notion even though many, perhaps most, human intentions are in fact linguistically realized.

On this approach the philosophy of language is a branch of the philosophy of mind. In its most general form it amounts to the



killer intends to shoot his enemy by means of firing the gun and he intends to fire the gun by means of squeezing the trigger. But not all complex intentions are causal in this way. If a man were ordered to raise his arm he might raise his arm with the intention of obeying the order. He thus has a complex intention: the intention to raise his arm in order to obey the order. But the relationship between raising his arm and obeying the order is not a causal relation in the way that squeezing the trigger and firing the gun is a causal relation. In such a case there are conditions of satisfaction related to the bodily movement which are not intended to be caused by or to cause the bodily movement: he intends to raise his arm by way of obeying the order, but he does not intend that his arm going up will cause some further phenomenon of his obeying the order. In that context, raising his arm just is obeying the order and is intended as such. Such non-causal additional conditions of satisfaction are also characteristic of meaning intentions, as we will shortly see.

In order to get clear about meaning intentions, we must understand these various notions: the distinction between prior intentions and intentions in action, the causal and self-referential character of both, and the presence of both causal and non-causal conditions in complex intentions, whether prior intentions or intentions in action.


With this apparatus in hand let us turn to the main question of this chapter; what is the structure of meaning intentions? The problem is what are the conditions of satisfaction of the intentions in action of utterances that give them semantic properties? I make a noise through my mouth or I make some marks on paper. What is the nature of the complex intention in action that makes the production of those marks or sounds something more than just the production of marks or sounds? The short answer is that I intend their production as the performance of a speech act. The longer answer is to characterize the structure of that intention.

Before I attack that question head on, I want to mention some other peculiar features we need to explain. I want to specify some further conditions of adequacy on the analysis.

I said earlier that there is a double level of Intentionality in the




In Chapter 1, I made a distinction between Intentionality-with-a-t and intensionality-with-an-s. Though Intentionality is a feature of both speech acts and mental states and intensionality is a feature of some mental states and some speech acts, there is a clear distinction between the two. I have further argued that it is a mistake to confuse features of reports of Intentional states with features of the Intentional states themselves, and in particular it is a mistake to suppose that because reports of Intentional states are intensional-with-an-s that Intentional states themselves must be intensional-with-an-s. This confusion is part of a more pervasive and fundamental confusion, namely, the belief that we can analyze the character of Intentionality solely by analyzing the logical peculiarities of reports of Intentional states. I believe on the contrary that it betrays a fundamental confusion if we try to get clear about Intentionality by analyzing intensionality. It is important to keep in mind that there are at least three different sets of questions about Intentional states and about how they are reported in utterances of intensional sentences: first, what are the features of the Intentional states? (Chapters 1-3 were devoted to discussing this question); second, how are those features represented in ordinary speech? (this chapter is mostly concerned with this question); and third, how can we best represent these features in a formalized system such as the predicate calculus? (If you can get clear about the answers to the first two questions, the third is considerably easier.)

This chapter is about intensionality and therefore only incidentally about Intentionality. It is about the status of the words following "that" in contexts such as "said that", "believes that", "fears that", etc.; about the words following "whether" in "wonders whether", "asks whether", etc.; the status of words




" Bush believes that Reagan is President " is de dicto and intensional. It can be true even if it turns out that Reagan never existed. But what about

Reagan is believed by Bush to be President


Reagan is such that Bush believes him to be President?

Such reports are de re, and in them the occurrence of "Reagan" is extensional. The endemic mistake in the history of linguistic philosophy has been to infer from the fact that the de dicto report is intensional that therefore the states reported must themselves be intensional. I have claimed in Chapter 1 that such a view is a massive confusion, and in this chapter I have tried to analyze sentences used to make de dicto reports. The parallel confusion in the case of de re reports has been to infer from the fact that there are two kinds of reports, de re and de dicto, that therefore there are two kinds of states reported, that the states themselves are either de re or de dicto. But from the fact that there are two different kinds of reports it simply does not follow, nor is it the case that, there are two different kinds of states. To this and related confusions we will turn in the next chapter.



The fundamental question of the philosophy of language has always been: How does language relate to reality? The answer I proposed to that question in Speech Acts was that language relates to reality in virtue of the fact that speakers so relate it in the performance of linguistic acts. The original question then reduces to one of analyzing the nature and conditions of the possibility of these acts. In this book I have tried to ground that analysis further in the Intentionality of the mind: the question, "How does language relate to reality?" is only a special case of the question, "How does the mind relate to reality?", and just as the question about language reduced to one about various sorts of speech acts, so the question about the mind reduces to one about the various forms of Intentionality, the representational capacities of speech acts being simply a special case of derived Intentionality.

On one interpretation of Frege, my general approach to Intentionality is a matter of revising and extending Frege's conception of "Sinn" to Intentionality in general, including perception and other forms of self-reference; and my approach to the special problem of reference is in some respects Fregean in spirit, though, of course, not in detail. Specifically, it is possible to distinguish at least two independent strands in Frege's account of the relations between expressions and objects. First, in his account of the Sinn and Bedeutung of Eigennamen, an expression refers to an object because the object fits or satisfies the Sinn associated with the expression. Second, in his fight against psychologism Frege felt it necessary to postulate the existence of a "third realm" of abstract entities: senses, propositions, etc. Communication in the utterance of an expression is possible only because both the speaker and the hearer can grasp a common abstract sense associated with the expression. My own account is Fregean in accepting the first of these strands, but I reject the second. Linguistic reference is a



justification for making such a fuss over views I believe are false anyway has to do with the size of the issues involved. If we are unable to account for the relation of reference in terms of internal Intentional contents, either the contents of the individual speaker or the linguistic community of which he is a part, then the entire philosophical tradition since Frege, both the analytic and the phenomenological strands, is mistaken and we need to start over with some external causal account of reference in particular, and the relation of words to the world in general.


I shall begin by considering Hilary Putnam's argument that "meanings are not in the head".2 I think in the relevant sense that meanings are precisely in the head - there is nowhere else for them to be - and that Putnam's arguments fail to show anything to the contrary.

Putnam considers two views:

(1) Knowing the meaning of a word or expression consists in being in a certain psychological state.

(2) Meaning (intension) determines extension.

.Appropriately construed these two entail a third:

(3) Psychological states determine extension.

Putnam tries to show that we cannot hold both (1) and (2) together and that (3) is false. He proposes to reject (1) and (3) while accepting a revised version of (2). In the discussion which follows it is important to point out that nothing hangs on accepting the traditional analytic-synthetic distinction; for the purposes of this discussion both Putnam and I accept holism, and nothing in our dispute turns on that issue.

Putnam's strategy is to try to construct intuitively plausible cases where the same psychological state will determine different extensions. If type-identical psychological states can determine different extensions, then there must be more to the determination of extension than psychological states, and the traditional view is, therefore, false. Putnam offers two independent arguments to

2 H. Putnam, 'The meaning of meaning', in Philosophical Papers, vol. 2, Mind, Language and Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), pp. 215-71.




this: causal and other sorts of natural relations to the real world art only relevant to language and other sorts of Intentionality insofar as they impact on the brain (and the rest of the central nervous system), and the only impacts that matter are those that produce Intentionality, including the Network and the Background. Some form of internalism must be right because there isn't anything else to do the job. The brain is all we have for the purpose of representing the world to ourselves and everything we can use must be inside the brain. Each of our beliefs must be possible for a being who is a brain in a vat because each of us is precisely a brain in a vat; the vat is a skull and the 'messages ' coming in are coming in by way of impacts on the nervous system. The necessity of this internalism is masked from us in many of these discussions by the adoption of a third-person point of view. By adopting a God's eye view we think we can see what Ralph's real beliefs are even if he can't. But what we forget when we try to construct a belief that is not entirely in Ralph's head is that we have only constructed it in our head. Or, to put the point another way, even if there were a set of external semantic concepts they would have to be parasitic on and entirely reducible to a set of internal concepts.

Paradoxically, then, the point of view from which I defend a 'Fregean' account of reference is one Frege would have found utterly foreign, a kind of biological naturalism. Intentionality is a biological phenomenon and it is part of the natural world like any other biological phenomenon.




The problem of proper names ought to be easy, and at one level I think it is: we need to make repeated references to the same object, even when the object is not present, and so we give the object a name. Henceforward this name is used to refer to that object. However, puzzles arise when we reflect on the following sorts of considerations: objects are not given to us prior to our system of representation; what counts as one object or the same object is a function of how we divide up the world. The word does not come to us already divided up into objects; we have to divide it; and how we divide it is up to our system of representation, and in that sense is up to us, even though the system is biologically, culturally, and linguistically shaped. Furthermore, in order that someone can give a name to a certain object or know that a name is the name of that object, he has to have some other representation of that object independently of just having the name.

For the purposes of this study we need to explain how the use of proper names fits in with our general account of Intentionality. Both definite descriptions and indexicals serve to express at least a certain chunk of Intentional content. The expression may not by itself be sufficient to identify the object referred to, but in cases where the reference succeeds there is enough other Intentional content available to the speaker to nail down the reference. This thesis holds even for "referential" uses of definite descriptions, where the Intentional content that is actually expressed in the utterance may not even be true of the object referred to.1 But what about proper names? They obviously lack an explicit Intentional content, but do they serve to focus the speaker's and hearer's

1 See J. R. Searle, 'Referential and attributive', in Expression and Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 157-61.



the object. Examples for me would be such names as "Japan" or "Charles de Gaulle". In such cases, the Intentional content is rich enough so that it sets very strong constraints on the sort of things that could be referred to by my uses of the names. For example, regardless of the chain of communication, it couldn't turn out that by "de Gaulle" I am referring to a Florentine tapestry, or by "Japan" I am referring to a butterfly.

Third, there are uses of names where one is almost totally dependent on other people's prior usage to secure reference. It is these cases that I have described as parasitic, for in these cases the speaker does not have enough Intentional content to qualify as knowledge about the object. The object may not even be generally referred to by the name that he has acquired for it. For me such a name would be "Plotinus". Even in these cases the limited Intentional content places some constraints on the type of object named. In my use, Plotinus couldn't have turned out to be a prime number.



Throughout this book I have avoided discussing the issues that are most prominent in contemporary discussions of the philosophy of mind. I have said next to nothing about behaviorism, functionalism, physicalism, dualism, or any of the other attempts to solve the "mind-body" or "mind-brain" problem. Still, there is in my account an implicit view of the relation of mental phenomena to the brain, and I want to end by making it explicit.

My own approach to mental states and events has been totally realistic in the sense that I think there really are such things as intrinsic mental phenomena which cannot be reduced to something else or eliminated by some kind of re-definition. There really are pains, tickles and itches, beliefs, fears, hopes, desires, perceptual experiences, experiences of acting, thoughts, feelings, and all the rest. Now you might think that such a claim was so obviously true as to be hardly worth making, but the amazing thing is that it is routinely denied, though usually in a disguised form, by many, perhaps most, of the advanced thinkers who write on these topics. I have seen it claimed that mental states can be entirely defined in terms of their causal relations, or that pains were nothing but machine table states of certain kinds of computer systems, or that correct attributions of Intentionality were simply a matter of the predictive success to be gained by taking a certain kind of "intentional stance" toward systems. I don't think that any of these views are even close to the truth and I have argued at length against them elsewhere.1 This is not the place to repeat those criticisms, but I do want to call attention to some peculiar

1 'Minds, brains and programs', Behavioral and Brain Science, vol. 3 (1980), pp. 417-24; 'Intrinsic Intentionality', Behavioral and Brain Science, same issue, pp. 450-6; 'Analytic philosophy and mental phenomena', Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 5 (1980), pp. 405-23.



sider the explosion in the cylinder of a four-cycle internal combustion engine. The explosion is caused by the firing of the spark plug even though both the firing and the explosion are caused by and realized in phenomena at a microlevel, at which level of description, terms like "firing" and "explosion" are entirely inappropriate. Analogously I want to say that the intention in action causes the bodily movement even though both the intention in action and the bodily movement are caused by and realized in a microstructure at which level terms like "intention in action" and "bodily movement" are inappropriate. Let us try to describe the case a little more carefully - and again it is not the particular case or its details that matter but the type of relations that are exemplified. The aspect of the spark plug firing which is causally relevant is the rise in temperature in the cylinder between the electrodes to the kindling point of the air fuel mixture. It is this rise in temperature which causes the explosion. But the rise in temperature is itself caused by and realized in the movement of individual particles between the electrodes of the spark plug. Furthermore the explosion is caused by and realized in the oxidization of individual hydrocarbon molecules. Diagrammatically it looks like this:

The phenomena at t1 and t2 respectively are the same phenomena described at different levels of description. For that reason we could also draw diagonal arrows showing that the movement of the electrons causes the explosion and the rise in the temperature causes the oxidization of hydrocarbon molecules.

Though we know little about how intentional action originates in the brain4 we do know that neural mechanisms stimulate muscle

4 But see L. Deecke, P. Scheid, and H. H. Kornhuber, 'Distribution of readiness potential, pre-motion positivity, and motor potential of the human cerebral cortex preceding voluntary finger movements', Experimental Brain Research, vol. 7 (1969), pp. 158-68.


movements. Specifically they stimulate calcium ions to enter into the cytoplasm of a muscle fiber, and this triggers a series of events that result in the movement of the myosin cross bridges. These cross bridges connect myosin filaments to actin filaments. They alternately attach to actin strands, exert pressure, detach, bend back, reattach and exert more pressure.5 This contracts the muscle. At the microlevel then we have a sequence of neuron firings which causes a series of physiological changes. At the microlevel the intention in action is caused by and realized in the neural processes, and the bodily movement is caused by and realized in the resultant physiological processes. Diagrammatically it is formally similar to the diagram of an internal combustion ignition:

Notice that on this model, as with our earlier model, we could also draw diagonal arrows which in this case would show that the intention in action causes physiological changes and that the neuron firings cause bodily movements. Notice also that on such a model the mental phenomena are no more epiphenomenal than the rise in temperature of the firing of a spark plug.

Of course the analogies I have been using, like most analogies, are imperfect. Specifically, it might be objected that the accounts of liquidity, solidity, etc., fit into a well-established spatio-temporal conception of how the world works in a way that any account of mental states and events could not; that in making the analogy I pretend that mental states have a feature that in fact they lack, namely, well-defined spatial locations. But is this objection really so devastating? I think it rests on our present ignorance of how the brain works. Suppose we had a perfect science of the brain, so that we knew in detail how brain functions produced mental states and events. If we had a perfect knowledge of how the brain produced,

5 Neil R. Carlson, Physiology of Behavior (Boston: Allen and Bacon, Inc., 1977), pp. 256ff.





accordion effect, 98-100 action (act), 95, 107, 119

basic action, 98, 100

as composite entity, 107

as conditions of satisfaction, 81, 82, 92, 94, 108

explanations of, 105 f.

Intentional account of, Chapter 3 passim

and intervening Intentionality, no

mental acts, 103

unintentional action, 100, 101, 102, 108

Background, 19, 20, 54, 65-71, 133f, 139,

Chapter 5 passim, 143, 147, 151, 154, 230, 232, 248, 252, 253, 255, 259

deep Background, 143, 144

functioning of, 158

local Background, 144, 153

as mental, 154

and rules, 149, 152

as skills, 144, 150f., 154, 155

and truth conditions of sentences, 146

as world, 144, 155

bodily (physical) movement, Chapter 3 passim, 106, 130, 162

as conditions of satisfaction, 87, 88

brain, 15, 20, 102, 154, 230, Chapter 10 passim, 262, 270, 272


Cartesianism, 14, 74, 263

causal concepts, 75

causal explanations, 117, 120, 121

and counterfactuals, 118f.

causal inference, 72f.

causality, Chapter 4 passim, 112

traditional view of, 112

causal laws, Chapter 4 passim, 113, 118, 120, 122, 126, 134, 264

linguistic version, 113, 120

metaphysical version, 11 3

causally relevant aspects, 117, 137, 138, 139

causal necessity, 116

causal regularities, 113, 118, 132ff., 138

Background presumptions of, 113f., 139

vs. contingent regularities, 115

vs. logical regularities, 114

causal relations, Chapter 4 passim, 113, 262, 264, 266

vs. causings, 116

perceived causal ralations, 114f., 125, 130

causal self-reference, 49, 76, 122, 169

of intentions, 85, 86n

and type-identical visual experiences, 50

causal theories empiricist, 131f.

intellectualist, 131f.

of perception, 63f.

realistic, 120, 130

see also, meaning, proper names, reference c

ausation, Chapter 4 passim, 135 a

gent vs. event causation, 115

efficient causation, 135 a

s experienced, 124, 125, 129, 130f.

Intentional account of, Chapter 4 passim, 123f., 128, 132

regularity theory of 114, 119, 128

statements of as intensional, 117, 123

traditional account of, 118, 119, 123

cause, 123

as internally related to effect, 121, 126

cognition (Bel)

as basic category, 30, 33, 35, 104

communication, Chapter 6 passim, 165,


166, 168, 174

 see also, intentions conditions of satisfaction (success), 10f., 12, 35, 4of., 57, 122, 164f., 177f., 259

fundamental ambiguity, 13, 168

general vs. particular, 62-71

and intensionality, 24f.

of intentions, 80-3 as internal, 11

and Network, 21, 69

noncausal conditions of satisfaction, 163, 207f., 213, 223

of perceptional experiences, Chapter 2

passim, 76-8, 226f.


of conditions of satisfaction, 22

and Intentionality, 2f., 34


de dicto beliefs, Chapter 8 passim, 198, 208-20, 208, 209, 210

definite descriptions, 244, 250

attributive use of, 198f.

referential use of, 198f.

de re beliefs, Chapter 8 passim, 198, 208-20, 209, 210

derived Intentionality, 5, 27, 28, 167, 168, 175, 176

deviant causal chains, 61, 135-40

direction of causation, 49, 88, 96f., 122

direction of fit, 7f., 7n, 35, 43, 88, 96f., 122, 171, 172, 173, 177

mind-to-world, 8, 88, 172, 175

word-to-world, 7, 171

world-to-mind, 8, 88, 172, 175

world-to-word, 7, 169, 171

dualism, 15, 262, 264


experience of acting, 87, 88, 90, 123, 124, 130

as conscious, 91f.

direction of causation, 88

direction of fit, 88

Intentional content of, 89f.

phenomenal properties of, 90, 92

extension, 200, 204

and linguistic division of labor, 201

and Twin Earth arguments, 202

extensionality, 23, 24, 182, 183, 192, 194

tests for, 181, 193


fictional discourse, 18

first-person account, 65, 92

functionalism, 14, 262


hallucination, 38f., 75, 120, 130, 137

and direction of fit, 43

holism, 21, 55, 65, 200


illocutionary acts, Chapter 6 passim, 166, 177, 179, 185, 186f., 190f.

illocutionary force, 181, 187, 190ff.

indexical expressions, 199, 204, 205, 206, 207, 213, 128-230, 221, 227

and completing Fregean sense, 220, 222, 224, 225f.

Fregean account of, 221ff., 228

non-Fregean account of, 219f., 228

nonindexical descriptive content, 224f.

and self-referentiality, 221, 222-4


and Background, 7of., 221

and Network, 69

of perception, 65, 66

intensionality, 22f.

of causal statements, 117

of mental states, 25

relation to Intentionality, 24, Chapter 7 passim, 180, 192, 194, 195

intensional reports, Chapter 7 passim, 180, 185

conditions of adequacy for, 182f.

intentional action, 80, 84f., 100, 101, 106

as caused by intention, 107ff.

as conditions of satisfaction of intention, 107ff.

presentational character of, 88-91

Intentional causation, 36, 61, 65, 66, 74, 94, Chapter 4 passim, 119, 121, 122, 126, 137, 139, 235, 237, 238, 241, 271

derived forms of, Chapter 6 passim, 175, see also meaning

transitivity of, 67, 94, 95, 96

Intentional content, 6, 12, 22, 36, 93, 158, 204, 205, 213, 233, 237, 240, 243, 244, 250, 252, 257, 260

as proposition, 19

as representation, 16

Intentionality, 1, 24, 26, 35, 97, 112, 119, 151, 160, 166, 175, 180, 197, 205, 230, 240, 272

and the brain, 15, Chapter 10 passim


of intentional action, 91

intervening Intentionality, 110

and language, 5 - 13, 164, Chapters 6 and 7 passim

parasitic Intentionality, 250

self-referential forms of, 211, 212, 25;

of visual experience, 91

Intentional object

and fictional entities, 18, 19

of intention in action, 93

Ontological puzzles, 16f.

of prior intention, 93

Intentional states, Chapter 1 passim, 3, 4, 156, 169, 175, 176, 177, 179, 180, 187, 271

logical properties of, 15, 16, 88

vs. mental acts, 3, Chapter 3 passim

Ontological status of, 14ff.

reports of, 188ff., 193, 195

as representations, 4-13

as sincerity conditions, 9, 28

intention in action, Chapter 3 passim, 84, 106, 122, 128, 137, 162, 167, 172

causal self-referentiality of, 94

caused by prior intention, 95, 96

causes bodily movement, 95

as Intentional component of experience of acting, 91

Intentional content of, 93, 107

intentions, 3, 27, 34, 36, Chapter 3 passim, 177

causal self-referentiality of, 85f., 86n, 176

communication intentions, Chapter 6 passim, 166, 169, 171, 172, 174

complex intentions, 98f., 163

conditions of satisfaction of 81, 82, 90

content of, 82, 87, 128

and foreknowledge, 103

meaning (representation) intentions, Chapter 6 passim, 162, 163-76, 164, 167, 169, 174

reduction to Bel and Des, 103f.

intrinsic Intentionality, 5, 22, 27, 167, 176


language, Chapter 6 passim, 176-9 a

nd constitutive rules, 172

extra-linguistic institution, 172

logical presupposition, 33


meaning, 26-9, Chapter 6 passim, 175,

Chapter 8 passim, 200

and causation, 99, 173

external causal account of, Chapter 8

passim internalist account of, Chapter 8

passim, 198, 201, 222

literal meaning, 145-8, 190, 227;

classical account of, 145, 147

meaning intentions, 160, 161, 163-76, 167, 174

speakers' meaning, 160

memory, 95, 97, 151

self-referentiality of, 97

metaphor, 148-9

mind-body problem, 15, 110, Chapter 10 passim, 262, 265, 266


Network, 19f., 55f., 65-71, 139, 141, 142, 147, 151, 230, 232, 238, 240, 243, 248, 252, 255, 257n, 260


ostensive definitions, 212


particularity, problem of

for perception, 62-71

perception, Chapter 2 passim

aspect, 50ff.

and causation, 47ff., 64ff., 119

and consciousness, 45, 47

content as whole proposition, 40, 61

expectation, 53, 55

as intentional, 39f.

Ontological status, 46

perceptual recognition, 69

self-referentiality of, 48ff., 238f.

sense data, 44, 58, 60

as success notion, 38, 41n

perlocutionary effects, 161, 178

phenomenalism, 59f., 265

phenomenology, 65

physicalism, 15, 262

physical skills

cognitivist account of, 150

Intentional account of, 150f.

presentations, 23, 46, 87, 88, 125

prior intentions, Chapter 3 passim, 84, 136, 138, 162

causal self-referentiality of, 94

causes action, 94f., 96

Intentional content of, 92, 95, 138

Intentional object, 93


relation to intention in action, 94

relative indeterminacy of, 93

proper names, Chapter 9 passim

causal theory of, 199, 232, 234-42, 237, 239, 240, 246, 248, 250

descriptivist theory of, 232, 240, 242-8, 248, 249, 256

logically proper names, 220

and original baptism, 234f., 244, 245

and ostensive definitions, 235, 241

parasitic uses of, 244ff., 250, 259

as rigid designators, 257f.

propositional attitudes, 7, 19, 208, 215, 216

propositional content, 5, 6, 40, 181, 187, 190, 192

psychological mode, 6



as hypothesis, 158f.

as perceptual theory, 5 7-60, 74

skeptical arguments against, 72ff.


causal theories of, 199

Fregean account of, 222

theory of direct reference, 220

referent, 17

refraining, 102f.

reports, 24, Chapter 6 passim

content reports, 186, 187

of perceptual states, 42

verbatim reports, 186

word reports, 186

representations, 4, 11f., 13, 22, 46, 143, 150, 156f., 177, 197

cognitivist interpretation of, 12, 22

linguistic representations, 23, 165, Chapter 6 passim, 193

representative content, 6, 17, 22, 259

representative theory of perception, ;8f.


self-referentiality, see conditions of satisfaction, indexical expressions, Intentionality, intentions, perception

sense datum hypothesis, 60 sincerity conditions, 9f., 28, 164f.

singular propositions, 220

speech acts

and Intentionality, 4-13, 27-9, Chapter 6 passim, 161, 164, 166, 178, 180, 188

nonrepresentational speech acts, 176

self-referential feature of, 86, 170

'style indirecte libre', 195f.


third-person account, 64f.


visual experience, 38, 39, 87, 91, 95f., 122, 130, 212, 213, 223, 226f., 254, 266f.

Background, 54ff., 65, 69f.

blind sight, 47

direction of fit of, 42f., 49, 88

Intentional content of, 43, 47, 49, 57, 60

as intrinsically Intentional, 40

Network, 54ff., 65, 68

nonintentional (phenomenal) features, 43. 6l

shared visual experiences, 70f.

visual object, 38, 48, 57f., 59, 87

volition (Des)

as basic category, 30, 33, 35, 88, 104



Austin, J. L., 58n, 60


Bennett, D., 83, 109 Berkeley, G., 59

Brentano, F., 14

Bruner, J., 53

Burge, T., 210, 210n, 211f.


Carlson, N. R., 270n

Chisholm, R. M., 82, 82n, 94, 108, 115n


Danto, A., 98n

Dascal, M. 102, 102n

Davidson, D., 83, 83n, 108, 113n, 114n, 182, 189

Deecke, L., 269n

Dennett, D., 21, 21n Devitt, M., 235, 235n, 246

Donnellan, K., 234, 236f., 238, 240, 242, 244, 246, 247, 247n, 248, 252, 253


Evans, G., 64, 237, 237n, 239n


Feinberg, J., 98n

Follesdal, D., 117, 117n

Frege, G., 64, 153, 182, 181f., 193, 197f., 222, 229, 229n, 232, 242, 244, 255


Grice, H.P., 48, 161, 161n, 233n

Gruengard, O., 102, 102n


Hume, D. 53, 65, 74, 115, 131

'Hume's problem', 21f.

Humean theory of causation, 116, 120, 122, 124f., 128

Husserl, E., 65


James, W., 89


Kant, I., 76, 115, 131

Kaplan, D., 218, 218n, 219, 228, 238, 238n, 258n

Kornhuber, H. H., 269n

Kripke, S., 253, 233n, 234ff., 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 243n, 244, 245, 246, 248, 249, 251, 255, 256, 257n


Leibniz, G. W., 267, 268, 208n

Locke, J., 204


Meinong, A., 17

Merleau-Ponty, M., 44

Michotte, A., 115, 115n

Mill, J. S., 133, 242

Mohanty, J. M., 13n

Moore, G. E., 9, 184


Peacocke, C, 139, 139n

Penfield, W., 89

Perry, J., 218, 2i8n, 219, 219n, 228

Piaget, J., 115, 115n, 127f.

Plantinga, A., 258n

Polanyi, M., 150, 150n

Postman, L., 53

Prichard, H. A., 89

Putnam, H., 62, 6;, 200n, 200-8, 248, 254, 254n


Quine, W. V., 209, 209n, 210, 215, 217n


Reid, T., 124, 125

Rorty, R. 237

Russell, B., 19n, 220


Scheid, P., 269n

Skarda, C, 62n

Smart, J. J. C., 265, 265n

Stone, J., 238n


Van Inwagen, P., 225n


Von Wright, G. H., 94n, 124, 125


Walk, R., 53n

Warrington, E., 47

Weiskrantz, 47, 92

White, S., 136n

Wittgenstein, L., 16, 51, 65, 87, 153, 153n, 169, 170, 175


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