Volume 10, Issue 2, Fall 2016
Piotr K. Szałek
Thomas Reid, Sensations, and Intentionality
The paper attempts to examine whether Reid adopts, but does not articulate explicitly, a philosophical theory regarding intentionality, or rather if intentionality remains an unexamined assumption within Reid’s philosophy. In the recent interpretations, Reid is perceived both as the proponent of the notion of intentionality and at the same time as a forerunner of the anti-intentional view. I will argue that the crucial element to solving this puzzling opposition in the interpretations is an analysis of the relation between sensations and perceptions. Perceptions are intentional in Reid’s view, while sensations are not intentional. However, what seems to be missing in this dichotomy is Reid’s firm assumption about the role of ‘common sense’ in sensations. Both sensations and perceptions as two separate operations of the mind contain an immediate conviction on the part of the observer about the existence of some item that is apprehended. In that sense, sensations exhibit themselves intentionally, as do perceptions. Moreover, this view of sensations argues for Reid’s position as proto-Brentanian as regards the notion of intentionality, because Brentano also assumed an essential role of an assistant judgment in the formation of sensations of items that are apprehended.