Brentano's Mind

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Brentano is one of the ‘grandfathers’ of philosophy of mind. His work influenced analytic philosophers like Russell and Chisholm as well as phenomenologists like Husserl and Sartre and continues to shape debates in the philosophy of mind. Brentano made intentionality a central topic in the philosophy of mind by proposing that ‘directedness’ is the mark of the mental. The book’s first part investigates Brentano’s intentionalism and attempts to improve or develop it. I argue that there is no plausible version of this doctrine and reject it in favour of a mark of the mental proposed by Brentano’s student Husserl: mental phenomena have no appearances. The book’s second part develops and defends Brentano’s metaphysics of awareness. Awareness of a mental activity and this mental activity are not distinct mental acts, the first representing the second. They are one and the same activity directed on several objects. Brentano’s basic insight is that intentionality is plural: directedness is always directedness on some objects. I will assess Brentano’s arguments for this view and argue that the plural conception of intentionality solves thorny problems about perceptual consciousness (II.1). I will go on to articulate Brentano’s distinction between awareness and observation in the proposed framework (II.2). In the next part (II.3) I use enjoying an activity as a model for awareness of it and explore the intentionality and nature of pleasure. The book’s final part (II.4) extends the plural view to the conscious mental life of a thinker at a time (the unity of synchronic consciousness): it is one mental act with many objects.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages320
ISBN (Print)9780199685479
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2017


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