Intentionality Bifurcated: A Lesson from Early Modern Philosophy?

In Martin Lenz & Anik Waldow (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives on Early Modern Philosophy: Nature and Norms in Thought. Springer (2013)
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This paper examines the pressures leading two very different Early Modern philosophers, Descartes and Locke, to invoke two ways in which thought is directed at objects. According to both philosophers, I argue, the same idea can simultaneously count as “of” two different objects—in two different senses of the phrase ‘idea of’. One kind of intentional directedness is invoked in answering the question What is it to think that thus-and-so? The other kind is invoked in answering the question What accounts for the success of our proper methods of inquiry? For Descartes as well as Locke, the two kinds of “ofness” come apart as a result of strong rationalist commitments. However, I will suggest that even if we reject such commitments, we go wrong if we assume that a single kind of intentional directedness suffices to address both questions.

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Lionel Shapiro
University of Connecticut


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