Review: A Critical Study of Husserl and Intentionality
This review was published in The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 19, No. 2, May 1988 (pp. 186-198) and Vol. 19, No. 3, October 1988 (pp. 311-322). Numbers within "<>'s" indicate page numbers in those volumes.
This remarkable book is one of the most significant studies in Husserl's philosophy to appear in recent decades. It is a major expression of a tendency in Husserl interpretation that has been developing for some time, rooted primarily in the work of Dagfinn Føllesdal, but involving a number of his students and others — such as Jaakko Hintikka and Hubert Dreyfus — who were at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, during the 1970s. It is one of the most clearly written works in philosophy that I have ever read, even when dealing with the more abstruse topics. Its interpretations are unfailingly challenging and illuminating of fundamental issues, even on points where one is inclined to disagree.
The book as a whole is an essay on the nature of intentionality: "The property of a thought or experience that consists in its being consciousness 'of' or 'about' something." (xiii) Intentionality is "the theme of our study," the authors tell us, and "the focus of our study is the theory of intentionality developed ... by ... Edmund Husserl." (xiii) They estimate that approximately half of their work is devoted to exposition of Husserl's theory of intentionality, and the other half to evaluating and extending that theory. Of this latter half, it seems that about three-fourths is devoted to explaining the semantical views of Frege, Tarski, Carnap, Hintikka and various other authors who philosophize along similar lines — "analytic" philosophers, if that description is still usable for purposes of communication — as their views bear upon the general nature of intentionality or meaning and upon the main distinctions among intentions or meanings. The book is, accordingly, a treatise on intentionality. But I think that its significance for current philosophical research will, nonetheless, prove to lie in its interpretation of Husserl.
The overall structure of the book is as follows: Its opening chapter begins with a preliminary characterization of "acts" of consciousness, proceeds to a specification of the main characteristics of their intentional relations (existence-independence, conception-dependence, transcendence, definiteness or indefiniteness (Maclntyre and Smith [hereafter "MS"] pp. 10-21; cf. 147151), and moves onward to a discussion of the peculiarities of intensional contexts in language especially the failure of substitutivity of identity and of existential generalization. These familiar matters are carefully explained because of the essential relationship which the authors believe to hold between intentionality and intensionality. They hold ". . . that the problems of intensionality in [mental] act sentences are at base <187> themselves due to the peculiarities of the intentional phenomena they describe or report and to the conception of these phenomena as intentional that is inherent in our language about them." (24; cf. 33) Accordingly they believe that "a well developed theory of intentionality should enable one to develop a semantics for act contexts that would explain their intensionality." (33) They note that, for Husserl, linguistic reference "is itself a species of intention," and that ". . . theory of reference and semantic theory generally (in the tradition of Frege), turn out to be subparts of Husserl's theory of intentionality." (34-35)
On the other hand, as we shall see, it is a primary thesis of the book that intentionality is itself made possible by intensional components of mental acts. Accordingly, the significance of intensionality for the investigation at hand is further developed in Chapter II, which distinguishes between "object" and "mediator" theories of intentionality. On theories of the former type (Meinong and Brentano are taken as representatives), it is the object of the act — in some sense of "object"— that determines what the act is of or about. This view is, for very good reasons, shown to be untenable (47-61), and Frege's theory of Sinn as determinative of referent in language is introduced. Fregian Sinne turn out, as is well known, to be intensional entities that are supposed to mediate or establish the relation between linguistic expressions and their referents. It is observed that Husserlian "noemata" or "noematic Sinne" are also intensional entities, and are moreover "the cornerstone of Husserl's theory of intentionality." (69) For both Frege and Husserl, then, the Sinn of an experience or thought makes its referring or intentional direction possible and specific, but in the usual case it is not the object of the experience or thought. Thus: "Our short study of Frege is the transition that leads our discussion away from the object approach to intentionality and into a study of Husserl." (82)
Chapters three, four and five (87-265) constitute the heart of the book, so far as the interpretation of Husserl and his phenomenology are concerned. We will shortly return to examine crucial points in the authors' interpretation of Husserl on Sinne and intentionality; but, to complete our outline of the book, we now note that two fundamental theses emerge as their discussion progresses: One is that "occasional" or — in the language of Reichenbach, "token reflexive"— expressions and mental acts have their reference or intentionality determined by the facts of the occasion in which they occur, as well as by certain "background" beliefs. The authors contend that "Husserl says nothing that suggests an adequate answer" (218) to the question of how this works: of how, for example, the "occasional" or context-dependent nature of a perceptual intention upon precisely and only this pen is to be accounted for. The 'this', the ‘X’ which presents just this identical object, appearing in many ways in various experiences, is held by them to remain a mystery. "Husserl simply does not tell us how, via its X, a perception intends the right object. For Husserl, it seems, the mystery and mystique of intuition resides in that special sense, an X. We are forced to conclude that although Husserl sharply indicated the occasional nature of perception, he did not offer an account of perception that adequately explains or even properly addresses that important feature of perception. Nor, it seems, did he fully comprehend the problem it poses for his basic theory of intentionality." (219)
The other fundamental thesis emerging from the discussions in Chapters three through five is that Sinne and intentionality can only be adequately analyzed in terms of possibility. This very plausible thesis is advanced on the basis of the essential connection, for Husserl, between the Sinn of an act and what he calls the act's "horizon". This second thesis is then placed into relationship with the <188> contemporary doctrine of possible worlds, and with the later Carnap's analysis of language meanings in terms of meaning functions between extensions and possible worlds. The authors regard the possible worlds interpretation of possibility and the Carnapian analysis of linguistic meaning as at least suggestive of how Sinne are to be more clearly understood than provided for in Husserl's own expositions, and not inconsistent with them.
Thus, the occasional or indexical aspects of certain intentions or meanings require the introduction of pragmatical considerations into intentionality, and the horizontality of intentions or acts leads to the introduction of possible worlds, all in order to provide necessary extensions of Husserl's account of intentionality. These extensions are the main task of Chapters six, seven and eight, completing the book.
We now turn to a statement of Husserl's mature (Ideas I) theory of intentionality, as the authors understand it. Proceeding from the general Husserlian thesis that the intentionality of an act is entirely determined by "the act's own intrinsic character" (92) — that is, by what is contained in it, its 'content'— the act's contents are exhaustively divided into those which are "reel" (reelle) and those which are ideal. (The authors seem to take the "irreelle," the intentional and the ideal contents of the act to be the very same things.) These two types of contents taken together constitute the "phenomenological content" (92-93, 104, 115, 136) of the act. The reelle contents are individual, dependent phases or "moments" which, like the whole act itself, are non-shareable and non-repeatable — the noetic phases as well as the hyletic. The ideal contents, by contrast, are repeatable and shareable, identically the same in many acts, and hence are universals, of a special type. In the Logical Investigations (1901) Husserl held that the universal intentional contents were instanced or exemplified in corresponding reelle contents, as their essences. (117) By the time of Ideas I, however, as is generally assumed today, "Husserl had changed his mind about the ontological category of intentional contents and the relation of real to intentional contents ... [and] no longer took intentional contents to be essences or types [of the real contents], but a special category of ideal entities, which are 'correlates' of real contents in an appropriately different way" (117), without being predicates or properties of them.
On the L.I. model there is just the act and the intentional property of the act — viz. precisely that property common to all acts which are of or about the same objectivity in the same manner and same propositional attitude. The specific intentionality ("matter" + "quality") of the act consists precisely in this complex property. The authors correctly remark that, on the L.I. position, — an act's being intentionally related to a certain object just consists in its having the property of being directed in a certain way, that is, its having a certain intentional essence. . ." (141-142) In a parenthetical comment immediately following this remark, and deeply revealing of the differing philosophical positions of the authors and Husserl, they ask us to "Note that there is no interesting relation between the ideal content or essence, and the object of an act." (142) As this passage continues, Husserl's L. I. theory is (for the most part rightly) classified with the contemporary 'adverbial' theories of intentionality, according to which "intentionality is a nonrelational property of an act, a complex quality or type that receives no further ontological analysis." (Are the elaborate eidetic analyses which Husserl brings to bear upon intentions and intentionality in the L.I. not to count as ontological? <189> Surely nothing is more so.) Then the claim is made that "if in the Investigations Husserl holds that intentionality is in some sense relational insofar as consciousness is 'of' or 'about' something, then the analysis he has offered is simply incomplete. Ideas, in fact, offers a further analysis."
We must pause immediately to make three comments upon this important passage. First of all, it is true that the account of intentionality in L.I. is incomplete, and that Husserl later realized it to be so. However and this goes to the heart of the difference between the authors and Husserl — Husserl found his account in L.I. to be descriptively incomplete. That is, he found that it was not a full presentation of the essential aspects and interrelations which are open to reflection upon the act of thought (or the meaningful use of linguistic expressions). But this, I believe, is not the incompleteness which concerns the authors. Rather, they want a "further ontological analysis," to avoid being left in the position where an act's being directed as it is is due just to its having the property of being directed in that way. (142) Reference to "intrinsic nature" is not to be taken as illuminating.
But yet, secondly, only two paragraphs later the authors return, precisely, to intrinsic nature — not of the act, now, but of the act's noema specifically, its Sinn. It will be helpful for the remainder of this study to quote them at length;
The highlights of Husserl's mature theory of intentionality in Ideas we might summarize as follows. Intentionality is analyzed in terms of an act's real and ideal content: the real content of an act includes the act's noesis; the ideal content is the act's noema, which centrally includes a Sinn. By virtue of its noesis, each act bears a characteristic relation to a unique noema, and so to the Sinn in its noema. Husserl says the noema is the "correlate" of the noesis; and of the relation between the noesis and the Sinn he says that the noesis "gives" the Sinn, or that the noesis "bestows" the Sinn on the act. Let us say instead, using a neutral term, that the act entertains its noema, and specifically its Sinn. Further, a Sinn bears a characteristic relation to an object (to at most one existing object), inasmuch as it is the Sinn’s intrinsic nature to 'point to', to 'represent', to present' that object; let us say a Sinnprescribes an object. The intentional relation of an act to object is then analyzed as the composition of two relations, the relation of act, or noesis, to noematic Sinn (the 'entertaining' relation) and the relation of Sinn to object (the 'prescribing' relation): an act intends, (is directed toward or is intentionally related to) an object if and only if the act (or its noesis) entertains a certain noematic Sinn and that Sinn prescribes that object. (142-143)
Thus a mediator between act and object is found, providing a "further ontological analysis" of act intentionality. It is from this new mediator ontology for the mental act that we are to receive "explanations of the traditional problems of intentionality." But with regard to one point an immediate question arises: Why is it not as unilluminating to say that "a Sinn bears a characteristic relation to an object . . . inasmuch as it is the Sinn’s intrinsic nature to 'point to', to 'represent', to 'present' that object," (cf. 107) as it was to say the similar thing about the mental act itself? If an adverbial theory of the act's intentionality is unilluminating and incomplete, why is not the same true of an adverbial account of the noema or its Sinn? What is it about the intrinsic nature of Sinne, or of the 'X's in noematic Sinne, which allows them to do what the intrinsic nature of acts cannot? If "pointing" or "aboutness" is going to be ultimate at some point, as it certainly is for Husserl (Logical Investigations, II, subsection 31 ["L.I." hereafter referring to the English edition]), what is it about the act which disqualifies it for this ultimate property, and what is it about the Sinn that qualifies it'? One hopes that these questions will be answered. Perhaps an adverbial interpretation of the Sinn’s intentionality will be avoided.
But (third comment) the issues here run very deep, touching upon the question of how the enterprise of analyzing or giving an account of intentionality <190> is to be conceived, and of how philosophical inquiry proceeds. It is the radical difference on this point which must, above all, be kept in mind when comparing Husserl and Frege, and which leads one to think that Frege's views perhaps have little use in the exposition of Husserl. It is, I think, not clearly true that "The goal of a Husserlian theory of intentionality is to tell us just what kind of entity an act's content [read "noema"] is and to convince us that an experience's involvement with an entity of that kind is both necessary and sufficient for the intentionality of the experience." (105) The goal for Husserl is, instead, to describe intentionality in terms of its essential characteristics and differentiations, and in relation to the internal complexities of the acts upon which, in its various forms, it is founded or essentially depends — the descriptions to be guided by intuition of those characteristics, differentiations and inner founding structures themselves. (See, for example, the statements in the last paragraph of Subsection 134 of Ideas I and in the third paragraph of Subsection 90, in the Boyce Gibson translation, hardbound edition [hereafter "BG"], pp. 373 and 262.) Maclntyre and Smith's procedure seems, by contrast, to be to postulate an intensional entity, a "meaning," of the now familiar Fregian sort, and then to show how that sort of entity, along with postulated relations of "entertaining" and "prescribing," permits explanation of the admitted features of intentionality, such as existence independence, concept dependence, transcendence, and definiteness/indefiniteness. In a note to an earlier paper by the authors ["Intentionality via Intensions,"Journal of Philosophy, LXVIII, '18 (Sept. 16, 1971), p. 543] they comment that "exactly what intensions, as abstract entities ['of the same kind as meanings'], are like is no less (or more) a mystery with Husserl than with Frege, Church, et al. All that we presume to know of noemata is what Husserl tells us they do in his theory of intentionality." [Emphasis the authors'.]
Certainly Husserl did not regard noemata (or "intensions" as he would understand them, or, more generally, universals) as mysterious at all. He repeatedly discusses the nature of these entities, as well as the empiricist and (for him) consequently skeptical principles that make them and all knowledge seem mysterious or impossible. (See L. I., "Prolegomena to Pure Logic," Appendix to Subsections 25 and 26, and all of chapter 7, along with chapter two of Part One in Ideas 1.) Frege and Church are, to be sure, no empiricists. Nevertheless, their invocation of abstract entities (and of reference to or consciousness thereof) looks much more like some form of transcendental argument, from the requirements of semantic analysis or of scientific knowledge generally, than anything to be found in Husserl. Husserl, by contrast, claims to do his work on the "conditions of the possibility of knowledge"— which of course, in his own way, includes all the standard semantical issues — by returning the concepts of logic and epistemology to the "things themselves"— to intentionality or meaning, to concepts, propositions, truth, logical relations, Evidenz, fulfilment (verification), and so forth. He very well understood the difference between his work and Kant's, and even claimed superiority of his "critique" over Kant's on the very basis that:
Kant never made clear to himself the peculiar character of pure Ideation, the adequate survey of conceptual essences, and of the laws of universal validity rooted in those essences. He accordingly lacked the phenomenologically correct concept of the a priori. For this reason he could never rise to adopting the only possible aim of a strictly scientific critique of reason: the investigation of the pure, essential laws which govern acts as intentional experiences, in all their modes of sense-giving objectivation, and their fulfilling constitution of 'true being'. Only a perspicuous knowledge of these laws of essence could provide us with an absolutely adequate answer to all the questions regarding our understanding, questions which can be meaningfully raised in regard to the 'possibility of knowledge'. (L.I. 833-834)
<191> If such remarks carry any weight at all, they seem to me to apply equally well to the Frege tradition in semantic analysis and its extensions or modifications through the use of pragmatics and possible worlds.
Husserl does his work, at least on his own interpretation of it, by turning his attention to essences themselves. As he says over and over, his aim is not Erklärung but Aufklärung, not explanation but illumination. And there certainly is, for him, an "interesting relation" between the meanings of L.I. and the corresponding objects. That relation — essentially involving noemata, it later becomes clear — is to be opened up to insight precisely by directly comparing the essences which make up, which are, the intentional qualities in the act with the essential qualities and other components in the relevant object or objectivity. This is done by reflectively living through the process of fulfilment (or else 'disappointment'), where the "empty" intentions found in the "mere meaning" of the linguistic or other cognitive act are seen to come into congruence (or else contradiction) with relevant objectivities. But why intentions are of such a general nature as to "agree" or "disagree" with select objectivities is not something which Husserl will explain by invoking more general laws or definitions. That pattern of explanation is appropriate in various ways to the various sciences, but, on his view, not in clarifying the very possibility of science or knowledge. (L. I. 264-265.) The fundamental concepts of the theory of knowledge — and the concept of the relation between meaning or intention and its object is certainly one of these — can only be clarified by bringing one's talk and thought involving them over against "the things themselves," and allowing the former to be adjusted to the latter.
We shall return below to this point about the general nature of Husserl’s analysis of intentionality, where we consider the extensions of Husserl's theory of intentionality proposed by the authors by means of contemporary concepts of pragmatics and possible worlds. For now, however, we turn to the question: Is it true that the noema is the ideal content of the act, on Husserl's matureview, and that the noesis falls wholly within the reele content? (MS 119, 121) The following preliminary reflections must give us pause in accepting what seems to be McIntyre and Smith's position on this question. First of all, we should notice that the noetic dimension of the mental act was introduced long before the Noema and was never regarded by Husserl merely as that in which L. I. meanings are exemplified. The noetic is introduced by Husserl as "the ideal conditions whose roots lie in the form of subjectivity as such, and in its to knowledge" (Subsection 32 of the "Prolegomena" of 1900, L.I. 136); or the "Ideal ... noetic conditions which have their grounds, a priori, in the Idea of knowledge as such, without any regard to the empirical peculiarity of human knowledge as psychologically conditioned." For example, "it is evident a priori ... that thinking subjects must be in general able to perform, e.g., all the sorts of acts in which theoretical knowledge is made real. We must, in particular, as thinking beings, be able to see propositions as truths, and to see truths as consequences of other truths, and again to see laws as such, to see laws as explanatory grounds, and to see them as ultimate principles, etc." (Sub section 65 of "Prolegomena," L.I. 232-233. Cf. Subsection 145 and the end of Subsection 147 or Ideas.) Thus the noetic consists in the ideal, intrinsic nature of mental acts which makes it possible for propositions, theories and logical relations, along with objectivities generally, to be grasped in them (but not by buttons and tree leaves), thus making human and any other knowing possible. Noematic Sinne do <192> not do this, though they have a role in it. Accordingly, the noetic is an essential part of Husserl's account of human knowing, with regard to its intrinsic nature not to be confused with the essence of theory as such, dealt with by pure logic (L.I. 233), nor with the real conditions of the possibility of human knowing, the psychological." (p. 232)
Now there is surely some serious reason to think that Husserl always retained this conception of the noetic as a domain of ideal entities and structures, and indeed that it became even more prominent as he moved toward the great works of his last years, concerned ever increasingly with the cultural fate of reason. Here we cite the whole of the "Fourth Section" of Ideas 1, especially p. 399 where the phenomenology of reason is described as "noetics in a pregnant sense of the term. "
But we should also note that the term "noesis" is first introduced into Ideas I to refer to "what forms materials [hyla] into intentional experiences and brings in the specific element of intentionality" (BG 249), which is explicitly identified (244) with the "act character" of L. I. (Cf. BG 284 where the noesis is identified with the 'animating apprehension" of sense data, as in L. I.) Although the "sense-giving" realized through the noetic moment is of many types, the giving of sense to the hyletic is the fundamental one, attaching itself to the "pregnant" concept of Sinn (249), and never changed in Husserl's career. (I cannot help but think that the authors are quite mistaken to cite (MS 120) Subsection 85 of Ideas I to support the view that the sense "given" to the act by the noesis is the noema. This section is a discussion of how the act character (also called "noesis") confers a sense, an ofness, on otherwise dead sensa by forming them, giving them the character of "pointing beyond themselves,' which certainly will be accompanied by the emergence of a noema. (Cf. L.I. 594 and Husserliana XXII, pp. 306-307.)
In any case, we can say that there is nothing that is just reale or reelle on Husserl's view. If indeed the noema is not the essence of the act, the act must still have an essence, and in that sense also an ideal content. The authors would agree with this, I think, though their insistence that the noema is the ideal content of the act might mislead us. For his part, Husserl comments upon the "historical and natural" movement of thought which leads us at first to "take the immanent study of pure experience, the study of their own proper essence, to be a study of their reellen components," whereas "on both sides [noetic/noematic] in truth there open up vast domains of eidetic inquiry, and these are constantly related to each other, though it turns out that they keep separate for a long stretch." (BG 36) Further, to suggest that, in general, meaning is not a necessary constituent in the essence of the act is surely to allow nothing less than that you could have the same act as is present in a given case, but that act be of or about something other than what it is or about. Conversely, to suggest that one could analyze the intentionality of an act without regard to its essence would be quite odd, for that would mean that the meaning or aboutness of an act is indifferent to the kind of act it rests upon. Consequently, to say that the noema or Sinn of an act is not its type or essence — which, for good reasons, Husserl does say in his later years — must be to say something quite different than simply that the intentionality of an act is not of the essence of that act. The intentionality of an act has to be in its essence. Yet how can this be if the intentionality or meaning of an act is exhausted by its noematic Sinn?
With these preliminary reflections in mind, and continuing to focus upon the claim that the noema is the ideal content of the act on Husserl's mature view, let us turn to what he actually says about the noeses in Ideas 1, and bring that over <193> against what is in effect, on the tradition of Husserl interpretation now under discussion, the dismissal of the noesis from the analysis of intentionality apparently on the grounds that, being reele, it necessarily fails to be intensional, and hence can be of no use in accounting for intentionality. Let us give the noesis its long-awaited day in court.
When we look at Ideas I as a whole, we immediately see that Phenomenology finds much more to do than to account for the intentionality of acts in terms of noemata and their Sinne. The distinction between noesis and noema is but one of those "most general peculiarities of the essential nature of the pure sphere of experience" (BG 215) which survive the various "reductions" and, according to Husserl himself, provide the "main themes" of phenomenology. (214) Before coming to that distinction Husserl discusses reflexion (Subsections '77-79), the relation of experiences to the pure ego ('80), phenomenological temporality ('81-82), the unity of the stream of experience as a Kantian "idea" ('83), intentionality ('84), the relation of intentionalities to the sensa which they inform or animate and thus "use" in intending an object ('84), and the "functional" aspects of consciousness, the use of all sorts of elements (including whole acts) within consciousness itself in the further intention of objectivities of various appropriate kinds ('86). Finally, as one more "general feature of pure experience," Husserl comes upon what he later describes as "the essential two-sidedness of intentionality. " (BG 359)
Now it is important to notice that it is intentionality which is said to be bilateral (Doppelseitig), and not just that acts of consciousness have two correlated aspects. I believe it to be Husserl's view that two intentionalities— two strata of ofnesses and aboutnesses— run side by side in essential interdependence within the flow of mental acts which make up our conscious life. (BG 294) The parallelism involved is fundamentally a parallelism of noetic and noematic characters (290), and then, and only in virtue of that, a parallelism of reelle and irreelle phases or "moments" of the whole mental act or act stream — the entire structure in the concrete act resting upon an appropriate, though somewhat less parallel, accompaniment of hyletic data. Thus in every experience, every whole act, there are three types of moments: hyletic, noetic and noematic. The latter are "irreelle," the meaning of the term deriving wholly from a specific contrast with the other, reelle aspects of the act — the irreelle is that "das dem Bewusstsein selbst ein Gegenüber, ein prinzipiell Anderes, Irreelles, Transzendentes ist." (285). The irreellen, though belonging to the act, are not parts of the act, and appertain to the object in a distinctive way reellen aspects do not (BG 286, 291); and hence their properties, their essences, are not communicable to the act itself, as are those of the reelle "moments."
The ideal content of the act then consists of the three interlocking ranges of essences embedded in the three ranges of moments which, in their distinctive ways, make up the act. Correspondingly, we have three pure or eidetic disciplines: pure hylectics (253), along with pure noetics and noematics. (287)
Hence, if our view is right, noetic intentionality (298-299), the intentionality of an act to its (usually transcendent) object is to be understood very much as presented in the L.I. It seems to me that Husserl explicitly says this in Ideas Subsection 94, in his remarks about the L.I. doctrine of the "intentional" and the "epistemological" essence. Noematic intentionality is, then, a supplement to, not a replacement for, noetic intentionality; and, as Ideas moves along, noetic intentionality is presented as prior to noematic intentionality in several interesting respects: (i) In the order of research, of course, the psychological interests saw to it that the <194> noetic was initially overemphasized, and that a one-sided presentation of intentionality emerged which overlooked noematic intentionality altogether. (36; cf. 256) (ii) Ontologically, the noema — though not, we emphasize, its essence — is wholly dependent, and hence is "abstract," in a sense painstakingly clarified in the IIIrd L.I. It exists or has being, however. One of the expressions of Husserl's ontological genius was his clean separation of being from independence, tying it solely to the possession of qualities or "true predicates. ""The seen trees as such ... is indeed itself, logically speaking, an object." (287) That is precisely to say, it is a subject of true predicates. However — injecting a special type of dependence again to make an illuminating historical contrast — "Its essence consists exclusively in its 'percepi', except . . . here the percipi does not contain the esse as a real (reelles) constituent. " (287) (iii) Eidetically, "the Eidos of the noema points to the eidos of the noetic consciousness; both belong eidetically together. The intentional object as such [noema] is what it is as the intentional object of a consciousness which is articulated thus or thus, and which is the consciousness of it." (BG 287) There is, Husserl insists, "a noematic intentionality over against the noetic. The latter carries the former in itself as a correlate of consciousness, and its intentionality passes in a certain way through the noematic intentionality and beyond it." (294) Nevertheless, the noema and its intentionality permits of being considered, descriptively analyzed, on its own account: "As we go more closely into ... [the 'meant as such'], we become aware that in fact the distinction between 'content' and 'object' must be drawn not only in the case of 'consciousness', of the intentional experience, but also in that of the noema taken in itself. Thus the noema also refers to an object and possesses a 'content', 'by means of' which it refers to the object, the object being the same as that of the noesis; so the 'parallelism' is once again thoroughly verified." (363) Although the noematic correlate of consciousness is Sinn only "in a very extended meaning of the term" (258), still, in ways which open up to further study, it shares with the intentional experience itself the property of having a meaning, of "having something in mind [im Sinne zu haben], . . . the cardinal feature of all consciousness, that on account of which it is not only experience generally, but meaningful, 'noetic'." (261-262; cf. 249) (Note that in Husserl's presentations it is the noema, not the noesis, which "also" has a Sinn or refers to an object and possesses a content. Cf. BG 360: "The noema itself has an objective relation through its own proper Sinn.)
Assuming the specifically noetic intentionality portrayed above, we are then prepared for a specifically noetic phenomenology, especially the phenomenology of reason (399) and of reason's claim to valid relations to an object. This is no science of reelle, but of ideal, contents of the mental act. (The "Fourth Section" of Ideas 1.) We are also prepared to hear of noetic predicates (305), nucleii (267, 262), ideas and judgments (274), phenomena (418), Eidos (287), Evidenz (382), and even noetic formal apophansis (408; cf. 274): — with the understanding that in every case we are dealing with ideal contents of experiences, from the viewpoint of eidetic description. And on the other hand we are prepared to hear Husserl speak of the "noesis" as being the whole concrete act (279, 289), as well as being the noetic phase or moment in the act (249), for we understand that these are both being dealt with solely and only as incorporating the pure noeses (289), which are the ideal objects and structures of noetic phenomenology. He is making what he calls "judgements of eidetic generality. " (BG 58).
Can the interpretation of the noesis presented by Maclntyre and Smith do justice to these "textual facts"? Surely on that interpretation the "huge field" of eidetic research into "the essential relations between the noetic and the noematic"<195> (BG 285-286), "a parallelism which must be described on both sides" (288), just disappears; and Husserl's statement, repeated many times over in discussing various act types, that ". . . with the new noetic phases new noematic phases, on the correlative side, also appear" (327), is rendered trivial — or possibly even false, since, as just reellen, new noetic phases might well have "the same" noema (in essence). For the authors, we recall, "Noesis is Husserl's mature version of an act's real phenomenological content, and noema is his mature version of intentional, or ideal, content." (MS 119: cf. 135) The "noesis ... is a temporal phase of an experience" (143) in which the noema (Sinn) is "entertained," somehow guaranteeing a strict parallelism (not specified in detail) between noetic and noematic phases of the act. (125) Of the precise nature of this relation of entertainment and its foundation in its terms, the (reelle) noesis and the corresponding (ideal) noema, we are told very little, and certainly nothing that would justify Husserl's great concern about it. We are told only that the noesis entertains exactly one noema, while the same noema may be entertained by many noeses, and that entertainment is not intentionalistic (the noema is not the object of the act (121, 146)).
To seek a presumably "neutral" term (MS 143) to designate that relation, rather than attempting a description of it, further indicates, I believe, the essentially constructionist — therefore non-phenomenological — intent of this interpretation. I must add that "entertains" seems to me very far from a neutral term, since it has a considerable philosophical history, having served Russell and others in the earlier part of this century as a name for one of the "propositional attitudes," in addition to carrying a rich array of common sense associations — most of which are strongly intentionalistic and run flatly contrary to the authors' repeated insistence that the noema is "in no sense an object." (122)
In any case, after stating the foregoing view of the noesis and its relation to the noema in several passages in the first chapters of the book, the authors indicate that they have "already said much of what Husserl tells us about these entities," noesis and noema, and add: "In fact, we have nothing further to add on noesis." (143) The Index lists no entry under "noesis" after pp. 142-146, where the basic doctrine of noesis/noema, as they understand Husserl, is set down in sequence of eleven numbered propositions. The remainder of the book deals with the interpretation and extension of Husserl's doctrine of "the inner structure of noematic Sinne," providing "some further analysis of the relation between Sinne and the objects they prescribe." (143) The "vast domain of eidetic inquiry" into the noesis and its interrelations with the noema (BG 360) disappears from the horizon of research.
We shall shortly look more closely at the account of the "prescribing" relation posited by the authors between the noema, or its Sinn, and the corresponding object. But first a further comment relevant to the "entertaining" relation between the act, or noesis, and its noema. The authors rightly insist that the noema is not the object of the act in which it functions as noema. This insistence is, I believe, a fundamental part of their realist interpretation of Husserl's views (MS 40-41, 89-90), rejecting object theories of intentionality generally, and the phenomenalistic or idealistic interpretation of Husserl by Aron Gurwitsch in particular. I believe that the realist interpretation of Husserl is the correct one, and the only one which captures the basic motivation of his life's work from beginning to end. Of course there are various understandings of realism, and not all fit within Husserl's views. But he did believe that how the world is and what it is known to be do not depend upon any knowing mind — even God's — and that in the usual case <196> the object of the conscious act lies wholly outside of the act itself.
But to secure this point it is not required that the noema, "the object as cognized," be "not in any sense an object that is intended in the act, an object of which the subject is conscious in the act." (MS 87) The authors try to force, in relation to noemata, the alternative: "Either not conscious of them, or only in a special kind of reflexion. " (122) But merely to be conscious of an object in an act is not by any means the same thing, on Husserl's views, as the object in question being the object of the act. What is missing in the account of Husserl under consideration are his doctrines of apperception and of the founding relations between the parts, including sub-acts, within most of our ordinary acts of consciousness, with the resultant massive internal complexity of those acts. The usual act of consciousness is not simply one intentional beam, so to speak, or even several unidirectional beams (noematic Sinne with the same ‘X’). Rather, it is a tissue of interlocking intentionalities upon which there emerges an intentionality that is the intentionality of the act as a whole upon its own objectivity. It is a consistent theme throughout Husserl's career that — in varying degrees and manners — subordinate, marginal, non-thetic and non-focal awarenesses of elements ("contents" in one or more senses) immanent to our experience are a condition (eidetic or synthetic a priori, no less) of the emergence of an intention upon the object of that one unified experience. This is most obviously true of all acts of "higher order." But then most acts of any scientific or cultural significance are of higher order, including every "logical" act in Husserl's special sense, associated with "expressions." (Ideas 1, subsection 124) But it also applies to hyletic data and noemata, neither of which are, of course, acts, but only "found" acts. We are aware of them, however, not unconscious of them, when they function in the usual way; somewhat as we are not unconscious of the marks on the page when we read, though in reading we are not looking at marks; or as we are not unconscious of sounds at the symphony, though in hearing the symphony we are not listening to sounds. It is, I believe, Husserl's view that this "marginal" type of subordinate awareness alone makes possible the functioning of hyla and noemata in the act and, simultaneously, their universal availability to reflexion in a cogito proper to them. They lie in one essential dimension of the horizon of the act in which they serve.
One might suppose that the very language in which Husserl describes noemata would forever settle it that they are present to the mind in those acts where they function as "senses," for they are described as "the perceived (remembered, judged, willed, preferred) as such" (BG 258, 287, etc.), the "intentional object" (261, 263, 287, etc.), the "object simpliciter". (266) But if, beyond this, more is required — and certainly it is in response to the authors — we have his explicit assertion that the conscious act in which the noema functions as "intentional object" is, whatever else, "consciousness of it." (287) And we have his further explicit assertion that "in the continuous or synthetic process of consciousness we are persistently aware of the intentional object [das intentionale Objekt ... immerfort bewusst ist]," as
in this experience the object is ever 'presenting itself differently'; it may be 'the same', only given with other predicates, with another determining content; 'it' may display itself only in different aspects whereby the predicates left indeterminate have become more closely determined; or 'the' object may have remained unchanged throughout this stretch of givenness, but now 'it', the selfsame, changes, and through this change becomes more beautiful or forfeits some of its utility value. (BG 365)
We must keep in mind that this use of quotation marks indicates the noema <197> and that "intentional object" usually refers in Ideas I to the noema (recall 287). The "identity of the actual and intentional object," so dear to the realist heart, is an important point to make, and Macintyre and Smith make it well. But it has to be handled carefully in interpreting Ideas I, or it will inexorably lead back to the idealistic interpretation once again.
We cannot here enlarge at length upon this point. But it is just this essential correlation (BG 366) between the various types of objects and the consciously grasped appearances through which they are intended — and even, in further development, shown to be reality or illusion (BG 253) — that is said to be "the ultimate source for the only conceivable solution of the deepest problems of knowledge affecting the essential nature and the possibility of objectively valid knowledge of the transcendent." (284; cf. 377, 399, etc.) The present point of emphasis is simply upon the fact that the functioning of the whole structure of consciousness depends upon, among other things, an awareness of the appearances of those (usually transcendent) objects which are, indeed, the objects of our conscious acts. This is, I believe, Husserl's explicitly stated view.
Now the authors acknowledge that the language of "the perceived as such," and so forth, "poses a problem for our interpretation." (MS 157) They respond to this problem with one of those numerous excellent passages of exposition and critique which make their book so valuable: this time demonstrating the radical error in the Gurwitschian identification of the object of the act with its noema or noematic structure. (157-165) But it does not follow from the errors of Gurwitsch's interpretation that we are not in some essential way conscious of the appropriate noema when we, through its mediation, grasp an object all the while quite distinct from it. So far as I can tell the authors reason as follows: The noema is an ideal content with "an intrinsically pointing character" (107, 143), an "intension" in the contemporary semantical sense. The Sinn (contra Gurwitsch) is not the object of the act. "Thus, since Husserl calls the Sinn'the intended as such', we also take this expression and its kin to denote the ideal content of an act and so not to have the more or less intuitive, descriptive meaning that Gurwitsch's interpretation assumes." (160) "... The noematic Sinn is an immanent, ideal meaning-content. Accordingly, Husserl's identification of the Sinn with the intended as such is not the key to discovering what the Sinn is; in fact, the identification is less informative about the Sinn than about Husserl's use of the expression 'the intended as such': 'the intended as such' denotes the noema and, hence, the ideal content of an act." (163)
It is intriguing to observe here how a common assumption may lead to such different positions. The common assumption is that if the noema is an object in a relevant act of consciousness, it must be the object of that act. Gurwitsch, to speak loosely, concludes that the object of the act is noematic. McIntyre and Smith conclude that the noema cannot be an object at all. Our previous discussions of the intentional and other complexities within the act, on Husserl's view, make it clear that our course must be to reject the common assumption. The noema is an object. We are aware of it within the act. But it is not therefore (indeed, is therefore not!) the object of the act. And the fact, if it is a fact, that the noema is what the authors say it is — namely, "an immanent, ideal meaning-content" with an "intrinsically pointing character"— makes no difference one way or the other in this regard.
Now at this point one might just be prepared to turn one's back on Husserl, with a "who cares anyway" about his views on the relation of the noesis to the noema and its Sinn. After all, the book under consideration is an essay on intentionality, and if no sense can be made of Husserl, so much the worse for <198> Husserl. But then we have to think about alternatives; and, it seems to me, semantical theories and theories of intentionality of a, roughly, Fregian inspiration do not have very much to offer us concerning the relationship of meaning intensions to mind. I am not sure that we can even say that Frege, for all his elaborate theory in other respects, really has a theory either of how senses relate to words or how they relate to experiences (his Vorstellungen?). It seems to me he does not. His preoccupation with how Sinne relate words or experiences to objects makes him ignore the question of how they themselves relate to words and experiences. But in what sense, then, can he be said to have a semantic theory or theory of intentionality at all? He certainly has much to say about how Sinne relate among themselves and how they relate to objects. But that is about all there is to his theory, and the account of intentionality by Macintyre and Smith appears to be a true heir of Frege in this regard. They are aware of the problem, but their resolution for it is to posit a relation of "entertaining," providing only the meager information indicated above concerning its nature. Husserl, by contrast, at least does have a full blown theory about how Sinne are related to words and to acts, and he defends a methodology of direct inspection of the (very complex) essential connections through which words and mental acts come into intentional nexus with their objects — one which is, needless to say, utterly out of fashion now, and extremely hard to make attractive.
<311> If we are right, then, analyses of intentionality along Fregian lines characteristically do not cast much light upon the relation of intentional quality or intensions to mental acts, as opposed to their objects. The "entertaining" relation introduced, though not really analyzed, by McIntyre and Smith seems to fit this pattern.
But let us suppose that we now have the act and the mind (and of course language) satisfactorily tied to the Sinn, and turn our attention to the "prescribing" dimension of the intentional nexus between act and object. How does a Sinn pick out precisely the object it does pick out? The answer to this question is located mainly in subsection '3 of chapter IV. (MS 194-222) The task here, according to the authors, is "to understand more fully just how an act's entertaining a Sinn is what makes the act intentional" (195) — that is, makes it about a specific object as having certain determinations. Not surprisingly, the answer is sought in terms of what the two parts of the Sinn do: the part, the ‘X’, which picks out, or 'prescribes', the object, and the part which picks out, or 'prescribes', the relevant determinations of that object. It is only "as the composition of these two components of sense [that] the whole Sinn is a sense that prescribes a specific object and prescribes it as being propertied, or 'determined', in a certain way." (196-197) Conversely, once we know how the parts do their job, there is to be no further question of how the whole Sinn of the act does its job. So what is left to explain is how the two parts of the whole Sinn prescribe or pick out their objects.
Even this, however, is not quite right, for no question is raised about how the conceptual or predicational side of the Sinn picks out the corresponding properties or determinations of the object. One really wonders why this is so — that is, why the same questions about how the ‘X’ picks out its exact object do not arise about how the 'as being P' part of the Sinn picks out P (as well as the exemplification relation between X and P?). Apparently, with reference to 'P' the authors are content to accept the unilluminating adverbial theory of aboutness previously mentioned, and to leave unexamined the existence-independence, conception-dependence, transcendence and definiteness/indefiniteness of the aboutness of 'P’. It is somehow assumed that the selection relation between 'P' and P is just obvious, and so much so that the only serious question about ‘X’ itself is how it can pick out Xwithout going through the relation of 'P' to P. Indeed, this latter is the only really significant question pursued by the authors in their discussion of how the Sinn gives the act its object.
Now there can be little doubt that, for Husserl, "the X is a fundamental and unique kind of sense that presents an object directly." (MS 201 and elsewhere) <312> That is, the subject component of the Sinn, the ‘X’, is "of" the objective entity that has the properties picked out by the other parts of the Sinn, without also being "of" or "about" any of those properties. This is consistent with its being able to do that only when accompanied by some predicate Sinne— even certain specific ones — and would seem to allow Husserl to accommodate the cases which Donnellan, Kripke and others have brought up in recent years to the embarrassment of "description" theories of reference. (203-211) But it leaves open the question of how if not through property Sinne, the ‘X’Sinn selects its definite object from among all others.
The effort to answer this question produces the all-important section 3.4 of chapter IV, with its discussion of "The Sinn of Perception as 'Demonstrative'." (213) The idea here is that perception, on Husserl's view, directly intends its object, and thus has the same kind of Sinn as the linguistic demonstrative "this." We shall, then, "seek in demonstrative reference a model or analogue for perceptual intention." (216) Our basic question is once again transformed, to read: "If perceptual intention is analogous to demonstrative reference, how does demonstrative reference work?" (216) This would seem to bring the inquiry on to well-worked ground of contemporary semantics and pragmatics.
The current dominant view of demonstrative reference is that "the referent of 'this' on an occasion of utterance is determined by the context of utterance, by the speaker's de facto physical relations to the referent." (216) Such a manner of determination is then extended to perception: "which object is perceived would be determined by the context of the perception." (217) But the authors quickly point out that this violates fundamental principles of intentionality on Husserl's view, by allowing something external to the act to determine the intentional relation. "Intentionality would no longer be . . . a purely phenomenological property of consciousness." (217) Husserl's theory of intentionality is said to break down entirely at this point:
He consistently maintains that a perception is directed toward its object solely in virtue of its Sinn, indeed, we presumed, in virtue of its X.... But how would the occasional nature of perceptual intention be accounted for, then? How does the 'demonstrative' content, the X, in a perception prescribe the particular object before the perceiver on the occasion of perception? Husserl says nothing that suggests an adequate answer.... f two perceptions with two different Xs are directed toward what is in fact the same object, what is it about the Xs in virtue of which the perceptions reach the same object? Or do perceptions apprehending what is in fact the same object all share the same X? That is, is there in the noematic realm a unique X corresponding to each object in the transcendent world? Surely that is implausible. Husserl simply does not tell us how, via its X, a perception intends the right object. For Husserl, it seems, the mystery and mystique of intuition reside in that special type of sense, an X. We are forced to conclude that although Husserl sharply indicated the occasional nature of perception, he did not offer an account of perception that adequately explains or even properly addresses that important feature of perception. (218-219)
The criticism of Husserl advanced here is radical and devastating, if it is sound. We must be careful to emphasize the exact nature of the problem as Macintyre and Smith see it. They read Husserl's position that the intentionality of an act must wholly rest upon its immanent contents to mean that it rests "merely on its abstract and eternal noematic content." (219) To account for the "occasional" nature of perception in "strictly phenomenological terms" can then mean only to account for it through a discussion of the "abstract and eternal noematic content" alone. How then can the eternal include the "occasional"? Obviously the physical circumstances of the perception do not fall within its "eternal content." But even if Husserl did indeed conceive of the "phenomenological content of the <313> act" to be just its abstract and eternal noematic content, I think it still might be possible to save his general thesis that the intentionality of an act is determined wholly by its phenomenological content and to show that the problem for which he, allegedly, has no account, just does not arise for him.
It seems to me that the difficulty raised here is caused by attempting to assimilate perceptual intentionality to demonstrative reference in language, and perhaps also by seeing in mere perceptual ofness too much of Evidenz, in Husserl’s special sense of that term, or too much of something like Russell's acquaintance, as associated with his "logically proper names"— names which inherently guarantee the uniqueness of that to which they refer. (but cf. MS 357f) Demonstrative reference as a communicative act does indeed presuppose a shared, real physical world, such as cannot survive the reductions and remain available for use in the description of intentional acts. Only the actual relations between the particular utterance of the demonstrative term and its physical context permits the hearer to assign it its referent, or the speaker to intend something as its referent. But this simply has no bearing upon the "direction" of nonlinguistic intentionalities, such as the perception of this desk upon which I now write, nor upon that of the relevant Sinne. There is no similar cause for dependence of aboutness of Sinn components in a perception or memory, for example, upon an existing, particular physical context; and independently of the suggested analogy with demonstrative utterances, there is no reason given by the authors to suppose that there is. (Though more on this latter, relevant to MS 364-365.) The appearance of a reason may come from the assumption that the mere intention of the noematic X in perception is a true laying hold of X itself — as with Evidenz or with the "logically proper name"— and that consequently apparent sameness of object across a range of ‘X’s’ guarantees an actual sameness. Thus a tie between mere meaning and individuated existence would be established. But there is nothing in Husserl's presentation of the aboutness of the mere noematic ‘X’ in the usual sort of perception which guarantees the existence or reveals the identity of that to which it refers, or which secures the actual sameness of things referred to in various ‘X’s’ as the same. The existence and actual identity of the X (not just of the ‘X’ of course) are important matters for Husserl, and are dealt with at great length, but they cannot be read off of the noematic Sinne as can simple aboutness and sameness (or difference) of aboutness in different Sinne.
[It is rather important to realize, I think, that the ‘X’ (or the Fregian individual Sinn also) is not something over against reference to, or direction upon, a certain correlative object, about which we could then speculate or inquire concerning the foundation of its intentionality. There is here a very great disanalogy with demonstratives. "I,""here," and "this" are, as words, entities over against their aboutness and reference. But nothing comparable is true of noematic Sinne. They are not tiny images or tiny words or tiny anything elses to which reference or aboutness may (or may not) attach. To overlook this pins us into a regress of the wellknown Bradleyan type, or else to an arbitrary termination of mediators mediating mediators.]
The issue for Husserl is: What are the phenomenological conditions under which things do and do not present themselves as the same? This is to be settled by examination of experiences (including their noemata) in which things do present themselves as the same, and, so far as possible, by subsequent insight into the essences of those experiences, utilizing comparison and eidetic variation to search out limits within which "appearing objects as such" would no longer be appearings of the same things, thus requiring the ‘X’ to have a new intentional direction. It is of course true that things appear to be different when they are not and appear to be <314> the same when they are different. In the former case the ‘X’s’ in the appearance really are of different things, a different Aristotelian tode ti (BG 74) is referred to in each case (BG 74-75), which is why they are "mistaken" and the "appearances are misleading", while in the latter case they really are of the same thing, which is why they are mistaken. We find out whether the appearances of sameness or difference present in the form of noematic Sinne are correct or incorrect, should we wish to do so, by carrying through with the relevant synthesizing activities, the specified developments, of consciousness — those indicated precisely by the noematic ‘X’ in question, along with its accompanying predicate Sinne. But what the ‘X’s’ are of or about (not to be confused with th