Volume 9, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2002
Dennett and the Quest for Real Meaning
In Defense of a “Myth”
In several recent pieces, Daniel Dennett has advanced a line of reasoning purporting to show that we should reject the idea that there is a tenable distinction to be drawn between the manner in which we represent the way things are and the manner in which "blessedly simple" intentional systems like thermostats and frogs represent the way things are. Through a series of thought experiments, Dennett aims to show that philosophers of mind should abandon their preoccupation with "real meaning as opposed to ersatz meaning, 'intrinsic' or 'original ' intentionality as opposed to derived intentionality. " In this paper, I lay out the case that Dennett builds against original intentionality, with the aim of showing that, once it has been properly clarified, the notion of original intentionality isn't nearly the myth that Dennett makes it out to be.