Volume 17, 2008
Varieties of Intentional Objects
I propose a certain classification of entities which are introduced in various theories of intentionality under the label ‘intentional objects’. Franz Brentano’s immanent objects, Alexius Meinong’s entities ‘beyond being and non-being’, or Roman Ingarden’s purely intentional objects can serve as examples of such
entities. What they all have in common is that they have been introduced in order to extensionalise the so called ‘intentional contexts’ (‘intentional’ with ‘t’). But not all entities which function this way deserve the name of intentional objects. In particular, neither Frege’s senses nor mental contents of the early Husserl are to
be classified as intentional objects in my sense. Roughly speaking, to be properly called ‘an intentional object’ a postulated entity must be supposed to function as a quasi-target of the subject’s intention. In other words: intentional objects are supposed to stand ‘before the subject’s mind’, so that they, in a sense, ‘replace’ the common sense objects of reference. It turns out that the intentional objects that were introduced in the history of philosophy make up groups which,
from the ontological point of view, are very heterogeneous. Nevertheless it is possible to formulate certain systematic criteria of classifying them.