The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

Pär Sundström
Pages 215-220

Consciousness and Intentionality of Action

One much discussed issue in contemporary philosophy is the relation between consciousness and intentionality. Philosophers debate whether consciousness and intentionality are somehow ‘connected’; whether we have reason to be more optimistic about an ‘objective,’ ‘scientific’ or ‘third person’ ‘account’ of intentionality than about an analogous account of consciousness. This paper is intended as a limited contribution to that debate. I shall be concerned only with the intentionality of action. Not everything which is true of intentionality of action is true of intentionality of other phenomena, such as beliefs. I shall discuss the question, ‘What is the intentionality of action?’ More specifically, I shall discuss one partial answer to this question: that a necessary condition of an agent performing a certain intentional action is that the agent is conscious of performing that action. This answer is fairly unpopular in contemporary philosophy. In this paper, I shall try to say something about the ground for the rather wide-spread philosophical resistance to the answer, and I shall also outline the kind of considerations that I think are required to judge whether a wedge can or cannot be driven between consciousness and intentionality of action.