Speculative realism

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Speculative Realism is an emerging movement in contemporary philosophy which defines itself loosely in its stance of metaphysical realism against the dominant forms of post-Kantian philosophy or what it terms correlationism. Speculative realism takes its name from a conference held at Goldsmiths College, University of London in April, 2007. The conference was moderated by Alberto Toscano of Goldsmiths College, and featured presentations by Ray Brassier of American University of Beirut (then at Middlesex University), Iain Hamilton Grant of the University of the West of England, Graham Harman of the American University in Cairo, and Quentin Meillassoux of the École normale supérieure in Paris. Credit for the name "speculative realism" is generally ascribed to Brassier, though Meillassoux had already used the term "speculative materialism" to describe his own position.

A second conference, entitled 'Speculative Realism/Speculative Materialism', took place at the UWE Bristol on Friday 24 April 2009, two years after the original event at Goldsmiths. The line-up consisted of Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Graham Harman, and (in place of Meillassoux who was unable to attend) Alberto Toscano.



The Critique of Correlationism

While often in disagreement over basic philosophical issues, the speculative realist thinkers have a shared resistance to philosophies of human finitude inspired by the tradition of Immanuel Kant.

What unites the four core members of the movement is an attempt to overcome both “correlationism” as well as “philosophies of access.” In After Finitude, Meillassoux defines correlationism as "the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other."[1] Philosophies of access are any of those philosophies which privilege the human being over other entities. Both ideas represent forms of anthropocentrism.

All four of the core thinkers within Speculative Realism work to overturn these forms of philosophy which privilege the human being, favouring distinct forms of realism against the dominant forms of idealism in much of contemporary philosophy.

Factions within Speculative Realism

While sharing in the goal of overturning the dominant strands of post-Kantian thought in both Continental and Analytic schools of philosophy, there are important differences separating the core members of the Speculative Realist movement and their followers.

Speculative Materialism

In his critique of corelationism, Quentin Meillassoux finds two principles as the locus of Kant's philosophy. The first of these is the Principle of Correlation itself, which claims essentially that we can only know the correlate of Thought and Being, that is to say, that what lies outside that correlate is unknowable. The second is termed by Meillassoux the Principle of Factiality, which states that things could be otherwise than what they are. This principle is upheld by Kant in his defence of the thing-in-itself as unknowable but imaginable. We can imagine reality as being fundamentally different even if we never know such a reality. According to Meillassoux, the defence of both principles leads to “weak” corelationism (such as those of Kant and Husserl), while the rejection of the thing-in-itself leads to the “strong” corelationism of thinkers such as Hegel, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger. For such “strong” corelationists, it makes no sense to suppose that there is anything outside of the correlate of Thought and Being, and so the Principle of Factiality is eliminated in favour of a strengthened Principle of Correlation.

Meillassoux follows the opposite tactic in rejecting the Principle of Correlation for the sake of a bolstered Principle of Factiality in his post-Kantian return to Hume. By arguing in favour of such a principle, Meillassoux is led to reject the necessity not only of all physical laws of nature, but all logical laws with the exception of the Principle of Non-Contradiction (since eliminating the Principle of Non-Contradiction would undermine the Principle of Factiality which claims that things can always be otherwise than what they are). By rejecting the Principle of Sufficient Reason, there can be no justification for the necessity of physical laws, meaning that while the universe may be ordered in such and such a way, there is no reason it could not be otherwise. Meillassoux rejects the Kantian a priori in favour of a Humean a priori, claiming that the lesson to be learned from Hume on the subject of causality is that "the same cause may actually bring about 'a hundred different events' (and even many more)."[2]

Object-Oriented Philosophy

The central tenet of OOP is that objects have been given short shrift for too long in philosophy in favour of more “radical approaches.” Graham Harman has classified these forms of “radical philosophy” as those that either try to “undermine” objects by saying that objects are simply superficial crusts to a deeper underlying reality, either in the form of monism or a perpetual flux, or those that try to “overmine” objects by saying that the idea of a whole object is a form of folk ontology, that there is no underlying “object” beneath either the qualities (e.g. there is no “apple,” only “red,” “hard,” etc.) or the relations (as in both Latour and Whitehead, the former claiming that an object is only what it "modifies, transforms, perturbs, or creates"[3]). OOP is notable for not only for its critique of forms of anti-realism, but other forms of realism as well. Harman has even claimed that the term "realism" will soon no longer be a relevant distinction within philosophy as the factions within Speculative Realism grow in number. As such, he has already written pieces differentiating his own OOP from other forms of realism which he claims are not realist enough as they reject objects as "useless fictions."

According to Harman, everything is an object, whether it be a mailbox, electromagnetic radiation, curved spacetime, the Commonwealth of Nations, or a propositional attitude; all things, whether physical or fictional, are equally objects. Expressing strong sympathy for panpsychism, Harman proposes a new philosophical discipline called "speculative psychology" dedicated to investigating the "cosmic layers of psyche" and "ferreting out the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk, and stone."[4]

Harman defends a version of the Aristotelian notion of substance. Unlike Leibniz, for whom there were both substances and aggregates, Harman maintains that when objects combine, they create new objects. In this way, he defends an apriori metaphysics that claims that reality is made up only of objects and that there is no “bottom” to the series of objects. In contrast to many other versions of substance, Harman also maintains that it need not be considered eternal, but as Aristotle maintained, substances can both come to be and pass away. For Harman, an object is in itself an infinite recess, unknowable and inaccessible by any other thing. This leads to his account of what he terms “vicarious causality.” Inspired by the occasionalists of Medieval Islamic Philosophy, Harman maintains that no two objects can ever interact save through the mediation of a “sensual vicar.”[5] There are two types of objects, then, for Harman: real objects and the sensual objects that allow for interaction. The former are the things of everyday life, while the latter are the caricatures that mediate interaction. For example, when fire burns cotton, Harman argues that the fire does not touch the essence of that cotton which is inexhaustible by any relation, but that the interaction is mediated by a caricature of the cotton which causes it to burn.

Transcendental Materialism / Neo-Vitalism

Iain Hamilton Grant argues against what he terms “somatism,” the philosophy and physics of bodies. In his Philosophies of Nature After Schelling, Grant tells a new history of philosophy from Plato onward based on the definition of matter. Aristotle distinguished between Form and Matter in such a way that Matter was invisible to philosophy, whereas Grant argues for a return to the Platonic Matter as not only the basic building blocks of reality, but the forces and powers that govern our reality. He traces this same argument to the post-Kantian German Idealists Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, claiming that the distinction between Matter as substantive versus useful fiction persists to this day and that we should end our attempts to overturn Plato and instead attempt to overturn Kant and return to “speculative physics” in the Platonic tradition, that is, not a physics of bodies, but a “physics of the All.”

Other thinkers have emerged within this group, united in their allegiance to what has been known as “process philosophy,” rallying around such thinkers as Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, Schelling, Bergson, Whitehead, and Deleuze, among others. Reality is fundamentally unfixed for such thinkers, who claim that objects are the products of a more primordial process of becoming, which is connected to historical variations of matter, will, or drive.

Transcendental Nihilism / Methodological Naturalism

In Nihil Unbound: Extinction and Enlightenment, Ray Brassier maintains that philosophy has avoided the traumatic idea of extinction, instead attempting to find meaning in a world conditioned by the very idea of its own annihilation. Thus Brassier critiques both the phenomenological and hermeneutic strands of Continental philosophy as well as the vitality of thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, who work to ingrain meaning in the world and stave off the “threat” of nihilism. Instead, drawing on thinkers such as Alain Badiou, François Laruelle, Paul Churchland, and Thomas Metzinger, Brassier defends a view of the world as inherently devoid of meaning. That is, rather than avoiding nihilism, Brassier embraces it as the truth of reality. Brassier concludes from his readings of Badiou and Laruelle that the universe is founded on the nothing,[6] but also that philosophy is the "organon of extinction," that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all.[7] Brassier then defends a radically anti-corelationist philosophy since Thought is conjoined not with Being, but with Non-Being.

Thomas Metzinger

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Thomas Metzinger

Thomas Metzinger (born March 12, 1958) is a German philosopher. He currently holds the position of director of the theoretical philosophy group at the department of philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies. From 2008 to 2009 he is a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

He has been active since the early 1990s in the promotion of consciousness studies as an academic endeavour. As a co-founder, he has been particularly active in the organization of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), and sat on the board of directors of that organisation from 1994 to 2007. Metzinger is director of the MIND group and has been president of the German cognitive science society from 2005 to 2007. In English he has published two edited works, Conscious Experience (1995), and Neural correlates of consciousness: empirical and conceptual issues (2000). The latter book arose out of the second ASSC meeting, for which he acted as local organizer.

In 2003 he published the monograph Being No One. In this book he argues that no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists are phenomenal selves, as they appear in conscious experience. He argues that the phenomenal self, however, is not a thing but an ongoing process; it is the content of a "transparent self-model."

Metzinger is praised for his grasp of the fundamental issues of neurobiology, consciousness and the relationship of mind and body. However, his views about the self are the subject of considerable controversy and ongoing debates.

His interests include:

In the new field of neuroethics Thomas Metzinger is engaged by supervising the neuroethics web portal.

In 2009 he has published a public book for a general audience, The Ego Tunnel (Basic Books, New York, ISBN 0-465-04567-7).

External links

The Logic of Sense

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The Logic of Sense  
Author Gilles Deleuze
Original title Logique du sens
Translator Mark Lester
Country France
Language French
Genre(s) philosophy
Publisher Les Éditions de Minuit
Publication date 1969
Published in

The Logic of Sense (French: Logique du sens), a book released by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze in 1969, is an exploration of meaning and meaninglessness, or "commonsense" and "nonsense". It consists of a series of thirty-four paradoxes and an appendix that contains five previously published essays, including a brief overview of Deleuze's ontology entitled Plato and the Simulacrum. The English edition was translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, and edited by Constantin V. Boundas.[1]

Main Page

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You have arrived at the capitalismandschizophrenia.org construction site. This is a wiki for notes, articles, and other things connected to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

There is no center, and the wiki is intended to host as many strange projects as possible. Thus, there are no formal rules. Just write.

Note: The wiki is a bit broken and works in fits and starts. Thus database errors may occur, however, it usually works anyway.



Planned/active reading groups

Completed reading groups

List of interesting articles

Axiomatic Capitalism Clinamen Dayvan Cowboy Immanence Morphogenesis Panspectrocism Planomenon Rhizome Universal modulation Consistency Fascicular-book Intensity Morphogenetic Panspectron Arborescence Desiring-Production Fascism Molar Multiplicity Plane of Consistency Unconscious War machine

Becoming animal...
Becoming animal...


Introductory Links

Free online searchable, but not quite full text version of A Thousand Plateaus

Deleuze på svenska - lista

How does it work?

Paul Ricœur

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Paul Ricœur
Western Philosophy
20th-century philosophy
Full name Paul Ricoeur
Born February 27, 1913
Valence, France
Died May 20, 2005 (aged 92)
Chatenay Malabry, France
School/tradition Continental philosophy
Phenomenology · Hermeneutics
Psychoanalysis · Christian theology
Main interests Phenomenology
Moral philosophy
Political philosophy
Philosophy of language
Personal identity · Historiography
Literary criticism
Ancient philosophy
Notable ideas Hermeneutics · Philosophy of action
Narrative identity

Paul Ricœur (February 27, 1913 in Valence, FranceMay 20, 2005 in Chatenay Malabry, France) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation. As such, he is connected to two other major hermeneutic phenomenologists, Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer.




Ricœur was born in a devout Protestant family, making him a member of a religious minority in Catholic France.

Ricœur's father died in a 1915 World War I battle when Ricœur was only two years old. He was raised by his paternal grandparents and an aunt in Rennes, France, with a small stipend afforded to him as a war orphan. Ricœur, whose penchant for study was fueled by his family's Protestant emphasis on Bible study, was bookish and intellectually precocious. Ricœur received his licence in 1933 from the University of Rennes and began studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1934, where he was influenced by Gabriel Marcel. In 1935, he was awarded the second-highest agrégation mark in the nation for philosophy, presaging a bright future.

World War II interrupted Ricœur's career, and he was drafted to serve in the French army in 1939. His unit was captured during the German invasion of France in 1940 and he spent the next five years as a prisoner of war. His detention camp was filled with other intellectuals such as Mikel Dufrenne, who organized readings and classes sufficiently rigorous that the camp was accredited as a degree-granting institution by the Vichy government. During this time he read Karl Jaspers, who was to have a great influence on him. He also began a translation of Edmund Husserl's Ideas I.

Ricœur taught at the University of Strasbourg between 1948 and 1956, the only French university with a Protestant faculty of theology. In 1950, he received his doctorate, submitting (as is customary in France) two theses: a "minor" thesis translating Husserl's Ideas I into French for the first time, with commentary, and a "major" thesis that he would later publish as Le Volontaire et l'Involontaire. Ricœur soon acquired a reputation as an expert on phenomenology, then the ascendent philosophy in France.

In 1956, Ricœur took up a position at the Sorbonne as the Chair of General Philosophy. This appointment signaled Ricœur's emergence as one of France's most prominent philosophers. While at the Sorbonne, he wrote Fallible Man and The Symbolism of Evil published in 1960, and Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation published in 1965. These works cemented his reputation. Jacques Derrida was an assistant to Ricœur during this time.

From 1965 to 1970, Ricœur was an administrator at the newly founded University of Nanterre in suburban Paris. Nanterre was intended an experiment in progressive education, and Ricœur hoped that here he could create a university in accordance with his vision, free of the stifling atmosphere of the tradition-bound Sorbonne and its overcrowded classes. Nevertheless, Nanterre became a hotbed of protest during the student uprisings of May 1968 in France. Ricœur was derided as an "old clown" and tool of the French government.

Disenchanted with French academic life, Ricœur taught briefly at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, before taking a position at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1970 to 1985. His study culminated in The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning of Language published in 1975 and the three-volume Time and Narrative published in 1984, 1985, and 1988. Ricoeur gave the Gifford Lectures in 1985/86, published in 1992 as Oneself as Another. This work built on his discussion of narrative identity and his continuing interest in the self.

Time and Narrative secured Ricœur's return to France in 1985 as an intellectual superstar. His late work was characterised by a continuing cross-cutting of national intellectual traditions; for example, some of his latest writing engaged the thought of the American political philosopher John Rawls.

In 1999 he was awarded the Balzan Prize for Philosophy "For his capacity in bringing together all the most important themes and indications of 20th century philosophy, and re-elaborating them into an original synthesis which turns language - in particular, that which is poetic and metaphoric - into a chosen place revealing a reality that we cannot manipulate, but interpret in diverse ways, and yet all coherent. Through the use of metaphor, language draws upon that truth which makes of us that what we are, deep in the profundity of our own essence".

On November 29, 2004, he was awarded with the second John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences (shared with Jaroslav Pelikan).

Paul Ricœur died on May 20, 2005 in his home, of natural causes. French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin declared that "the humanist European tradition is in mourning for one of its most talented exponents".


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This page is about the philosophical term, or concept.
For the idea of doing something with a goal, see Intention.
For the property of phrases, see Intension.

The term intentionality was introduced by Jeremy Bentham as a principle of utility in his doctrine of consciousness for the purpose of distinguishing acts that are intentional and acts that are not [1]. The term was later used by Edmund Husserl in his doctrine that consciousness is always intentional, a concept that he undertook in connection with theses set forth by Franz Brentano regarding the ontological and psychological status of objects of thought. It has been defined as "aboutness", and according to the Oxford English Dictionary it is "the distinguishing property of mental phenomena of being necessarily directed upon an object, whether real or imaginary".[2] It is in this sense and the usage of Husserl that the term is primarily used in contemporary philosophy. The concept of intentionality has its foundation in scholastic philosophy with the earliest theory being associated with St. Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God and his tenets distinguishing between objects that exist in the understanding and objects that exist in reality [3].



The modern overview

The concept of intentionality was reintroduced in 19th-century contemporary philosophy by the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano in his work Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874). Brentano described intentionality as a characteristic of all acts of consciousness, "psychical" or "mental" phenomena, by which it could be set apart from "physical" or "natural" phenomena.

Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction towards an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself, although they do not all do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgement something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on. This intentional in-existence is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon exhibits anything like it. We could, therefore, define mental phenomena by saying that they are those phenomena which contain an object intentionally within themselves.
-- Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, edited by Linda L. McAlister (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 88-89.

Brentano coined the expression "intentional inexistence" to indicate the peculiar ontological status of the contents of mental phenomena. According to some interpreters the 'in-' of 'in-existence' is to be read as locative, i.e. as indicating that "an intended object [. . .] exists in or has ‘‘in-existence,’’ existing not externally but in the psychological state" (Jacquette 2004, p. 102), while others are more cautious, affirming that: "It is not clear whether in 1874 this [...] was intended to carry any ontological commitment" (Chrudzimski and Smith 2004, p. 205).

A major problem within intentionality discourse is that participants often fail to make explicit whether or not they use the term to imply concepts such as agency or desire, i.e. whether it involves teleology. Dennett (see below) explicitly invokes teleological concepts in the 'intentional stance'. However, most philosophers use intentionality to mean something with no teleological import. Thus, a thought of a chair can be about a chair without any implication of an intention or even a belief relating to the chair. For philosophers of language, intentionality is largely an issue of how symbols can have meaning. This lack of clarity may underpin some of the differences of view indicated below.

To bear out further the diversity of sentiment evoked from the notion of intentionality, Husserl followed on Brentano, and gave intentionality more widespread attention, both in continental and analytic philosophy. In contrast to Brentano's view, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness) identified intentionality with consciousness, stating that the two were indistinguishable. German philosopher Martin Heidegger (Being and Time), defined intentionality as "care" (Sorge), a sentient condition where an individual's existentiality, facticity, and forfeiture to the world identifies their ontological significance, in contrast to that which is the mere ontic (thinghood).

Other twentieth century philosophers such as Gilbert Ryle and AJ Ayer were critical of Husserl's concept of intentionality and his many layers of consciousness, Ryle insisting that perceiving is not a process and Ayer that describing one's knowledge is not to describe mental processes. The effect of these positions is that consciousness is so fully intentional that the mental act has been emptied of all content and the idea of pure consciousness is that it is nothing (Sartre also referred to "consciousness" as "nothing").

Platonist Roderick Chisholm has revived the Brentano thesis through linguistic analysis, distinguishing two parts to Brentano's concept, the ontological aspect and the psychological aspect. Chisholm's writings have attempted to summarize the suitable and unsuitable criteria of the concept since the Scholastics, arriving at a criterion of intentionality identified by the two aspects of Brentano's thesis and defined by the logical properties that distinguish language describing psychological phenomena from language describing non-psychological phenomena. Chisholm's criteria for the intentional use of sentences are: existence independence, truth-value indifference, and referential opacity.

In current artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind intentionality is a controversial subject and sometimes claimed to be something that a machine will never achieve. John Searle argued for this position with the Chinese room thought experiment, according to which no syntactic operations that occurred in a computer would provide it with semantic content. As he noted in the article, Searle's view was a minority position in artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind.

Dennett's Taxonomy of Current Theories about Intentionality

Daniel Dennett offers a taxonomy of the current theories about intentionality in Chapter 10 of his book "The Intentional Stance". Most, if not all, current theories on intentionality accept Brentano's thesis of the irreducibility of intentional idiom. From this thesis the following positions emerge:

Is Intentionality discourse a problem for science?

Roderick Chisholm (1956), G.E.M. Anscombe (1957), Peter Geach (1957), and Taylor (1964) all adhere to the former position, namely that intentional idiom is problematic and cannot be integrated with the natural sciences. Members of this category also maintain realism in regard to intentional objects, which may imply some kind of dualism (though this is debatable).

The latter position, which maintains the unity of intentionality with the natural sciences, is further divided into three standpoints:

Intentionality poses no problem for science

Proponents of the eliminative materialism, understand intentional idiom, such as "belief", "desire", and the like, to be replaceable either with behavioristic language (e.g. Quine) or with the language of neuroscience (e.g. Churchland).

Holders of realism argue, in contrast to those in support of C, that there is a deeper fact of the matter to both translation and belief attribution. In other words, manuals for translating one language into another cannot be set up in different yet behaviorally identical ways and ontologically there are intentional objects. Famously, Fodor has attempted to ground such realist claims about intentionality in a language of thought. Dennett comments on this issue, Fodor "attempt[s] to make these irreducible realities acceptable to the physical sciences by grounding them (somehow) in the 'syntax' of a system of physically realized mental representations" (Dennett 1987, 345).

Those who adhere to the so-called Quinean double standard (namely that ontologically there is nothing intentional, but that the language of intentionality is indispensable), accept Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of radical translation and its implications, while the other positions so far mentioned do not. As Quine puts it, indeterminacy of radical translation is the thesis that "manuals for translating one language into another can be set up in divergent ways, all compatible with the totality of speech dispositions, yet incompatible with one another" (Quine 1960, 27). Quine (1960) and Wilfrid Sellars (1958) both comment on this intermediary position. One such implication would be that there is, in principle, no deeper fact of the matter that could settle two interpretative strategies on what belief to attribute to a physical system. In other words, the behavior (including speech dispositions) of any physical system, in theory, could be interpreted by two different predictive strategies and both would be equally warranted in their belief attribution. This category can be seen to be a medial position between the realists and the eliminativists since it attempts to blend attributes of both into a theory of intentionality. Dennett, for example, argues in "True Believers" (1981) that intentional idiom (or "folk psychology") is a predictive strategy and if such a strategy successfully and voluminously predicts the actions of a physical system, then that physical system can be said to have those beliefs attributed to it. Dennett calls this predictive strategy the intentional stance.

They are further divided into two thesis:

Advocates of the former, the Normative Principle, argue that attributions of intentional idioms to physical systems should be the propositional attitudes that the physical system ought to have in those circumstances (Dennett 1987, 342). However, exponents of this view are still further divided into those who make an Assumption of Rationality and those who adhere to the Principle of Charity. Dennett (1969, 1971, 1975), Cherniak (1981, 1986), and the late Putnam (1983) recommend the Assumption of Rationality, which unsurprisingly assumes that the physical system in question is rational. Donald Davidson (1967, 1973, 1974, 1985) and Lewis (1974) defend the Principle of Charity.

The latter is advocated by Grandy (1973) and Stich (1980, 1981, 1983, 1984), who maintain that attributions of intentional idioms to any physical system (e.g. humans, artifacts, non-human animals, etc.) should be the propositional attitude (e.g. "belief", "desire", etc.) that one would suppose one would have in the same circumstances (Dennett 1987, 343).

Basic intentionality types in Le Morvan

Working on the intentionality of vision, belief, and knowledge, Pierre Le Morvan (2005) has distinguished between three basic kinds of intentionality that he dubs "transparent," "translucent," and "opaque" respectively. The three-fold distinction may be explained as follows. Let's call the "intendum" what an intentional state is about, and the "intender" the subject who is in the intentional state. An intentional state is transparent if it satisfies the following two conditions: (i) it is genuinely relational in that it entails the existence of not just the intender but the intendum as well, and (ii) substitutivity of identicals applies to the intendum (i.e. if the intentional state is about a, and a = b, then the intentional state is about b as well). An intentional state is translucent if it satisfies (i) but not (ii). An intentional state is opaque if it satisfies neither (i) nor (ii).

Intentionality vs. intensionality

Intentionality should not be confused with intensionality, a concept from semantics though it is related to the modern understanding of intention.


  1. ^ Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Chapters VIII and IX. 1780
  2. ^ "intentionality, n." Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series. 1993. OED Online. Oxford University Press. 17 Aug. 2008.
  3. ^ Chisholm, Roderick M. (1967). "Intentionality" in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 4, p. 201.

See also


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Dasein is a German word famously used by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time.



Original meaning, Heidegger's interpretation

The word Dasein was used by several philosophers before Heidegger, most notably Ludwig Feuerbach, with the meaning of human "existence" or "presence". It is derived from da-sein, which literally means being-there/there-being, though Heidegger was adamant that this was an inappropriate translation of Dasein. In German, Dasein is the German vernacular term for existence, as in I am pleased with my existence (ich bin mit meinem Dasein zufrieden). For Heidegger, however, it must not be mistaken for a subject, that is something definable in terms of consciousness or a self. Heidegger was adamant about this distinction, which carried on Nietzsche's critique of the subject. Dasein, as a human being that is constituted by its temporality, illuminates and interprets the meaning of Being in Time. Heidegger chose this term as a synonym for "human entity" in order to emphasize the critical importance "being" has for our understanding and interpretation of the world. Some scholars have been confused on this issue, arguing that for Heidegger "Dasein" denoted some sort of structured awareness or an institutional "way of life"[1] but the textual evidence for this claim is not strong.

This entity which each of us is himself…we shall denote by the term “Dasein.” (BT 27)

[Dasein is] that entity which in its Being…(BT 68)

In the question about the meaning of Being, what is primarily interrogated is those entities which have the character of Dasein. (BT 65)

…it is possible to individualize [the question of the meaning of Being] very precisely for any particular Dasein. (BT 63)

…Dasein is essentially an entity with Being-in…(BT 84)

As we can see from these quotations, the replacement of "Dasein" with "awareness" or "way of life" would render the ontological difference between entities and the being of entities incoherent. Establishing this difference is the general motif running through Being and Time.

Heidegger used the concept of Dasein to uncover the primal nature of "Being" (Sein) which Descartes and Kant left unexplored. Like Nietzsche, Heidegger criticized the notion of substance, arguing that Dasein is always a being engaged in the world. The fundamental mode of Being is not that of a subject or of the objective but of the coherence of Being-in-the-world. This is the ontological basis of Heidegger's work. There can be no Cartesian "abstract agent" - the agent emerges out of his environment.

On Heidegger's account, traditional language, logical systems, and beliefs obscure Dasein's nature from itself. Beings are Dasein even when they are ontologically wrapped up in a tradition which obscures the authentic choice to live within and transmit this tradition. In this case Dasein still authentically chooses the tradition when it is confronted by a paradox within the tradition and must choose to dismiss the tradition or dismiss the experience of being confronted with choice.

Heidegger attempted to maintain the definition of Dasein as we all are, in our average everydayness. Dasein does not spring into existence upon philosophical exploration of itself. Heidegger intended Dasein as a concept, in order to provide a stepping stone in the questioning of what it means to be. When Dasein contemplates this, what seems (absurdly) circular in ontic terms, is recursive in ontological sense, because it brings the necessary appearance of time to the center of attention.

In Being and Time, Heidegger opens by positing that the potentialities of Dasein's Being extend beyond the realms disclosed by positive science or in the history of metaphysics. "Scientific research is not the only manner of Being which this entity can have, nor is it the one which lies closest. Moreover, Dasein itself has a special distinctiveness as compared with other entities [...]" What distinguishes Dasein from other existent entities is that "[...] in its very Being, that Being is an issue for it." Dasein's very nature poses a philosophical (or ontological) problem for it. Thus, we see Heidegger, being Dasein, attempt to tackle this innate dilemma in his philosophical works.

Karl Jaspers' Dasein and Existenz

For Karl Jaspers, the term "Dasein" meant existence in its most minimal sense, the realm of objectivity and science, in opposition to what Jaspers called "Existenz", the realm of authentic being. Due to the drastically different use of the term "Dasein" between the two philosophers, there is often some confusion in students who begin with either Heidegger or Jaspers and subsequently study the other.

In Philosophy (3 vols, 1932), Jaspers gave his view of the history of philosophy and introduced his major themes. Beginning with modern science and empiricism, Jaspers points out that as we question reality, we confront borders that an empirical (or scientific) method can simply not transcend. At this point, the individual faces a choice: sink into despair and resignation, or take a leap of faith toward what Jaspers calls Transcendence. In making this leap, individuals confront their own limitless freedom, which Jaspers calls Existenz, and can finally experience authentic existence.

But if Existenz is a subjective state of being, how can it be evaluated and analyzed by the individual? Jaspers suggests social interactions offer guidelines that individuals either adopt or reject. In other words, Existenz is a solitary state derived from the values of society. As with Sartre’s idea of “mirrors” (“Hell is other people!”), Jaspers writes of the self as “reflection in someone else’s authentic self.” Unless we know what others think and expect of us, we cannot decide who we are or want to be.

Jaspers, therefore, presents a view in which all people depend upon society for self-definition, even if the act of definition is a rejection of society’s values. No one is truly apart from society. In the extreme, a hermit defines his or her self as a complete rejection of social structures, but there is no “hermit” without a society from which to seek shelter. As a result, individuals experience a constant sensation of conflict: a desire to define the self freely while requiring society for that definition.[2]

Other applications

The term Dasein is much exploited in Existential Semiotics by Eero Tarasti.


  1. ^ See John Haugeland's article "Reading Brandom Reading Heidegger"
  2. ^ source

Modern philosophy

As with many periodizations, there are multiple current usages for the term "Modern Philosophy" that exist in practice. One usage is to date modern philosophy from the "Age of Reason", where systematic philosophy became common, excluding Erasmus and Machiavelli as "modern philosophers". Another is to date it, the way the entire larger modern period is dated, from the Renaissance. In some usages, "Modern Philosophy" ended in 1800, with the rise of Hegelianism and Idealism. There is also the lumpers/splitters problem, namely that some works split philosophy into more periods than others: one author might feel a strong need to differentiate between "The Age of Reason" or "Early Modern Philosophers" and "The Enlightenment"; another author might write from the perspective that 1600-1800 is essentially one continuous evolution, and therefore a single period. Wikipedia's philosophy section therefore hews more closely to centuries as a means of avoiding long discussions over periods, but it is important to note the variety of practice that occurs.

A broad overview would then have Erasmus, Francis Bacon, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei represent the rise of empiricism and humanism in place of scholastic tradition. 17th-century philosophy is dominated by the need to organize philosophy on rational, skeptical, logical and axiomatic grounds, such as the work of René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Thomas Hobbes. This type of philosophy attempts to integrate religious belief into philosophical frameworks, and, often to combat atheism or other unbeliefs, by adopting the idea of material reality, and the dualism between spirit and material. The extension, and reaction, against this would be the monism of George Berkeley (idealism) and Benedict de Spinoza (dual aspect theory). It was during this time period that the empiricism was developed as an alternative to skepticism by John Locke, George Berkeley and others. It should be mentioned that John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke developed their well known political philosophies during this time, as well.

The 18th-century philosophy article deals with the period often called the early part of "The Enlightenment" in the shorter form of the word, and centers on the rise of systematic empiricism, following after Sir Isaac Newton's natural philosophy. Thus Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Kant and the political philosophies embodied by and influencing the American Revolution are part of The Enlightenment. Other prominent philosophers of this time period were David Hume and Adam Smith, who, along with Francis Hutcheson, were also the primary philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment.

The 19th century took the radical notions of self-organization and intrinsic order from Goethe and Kantian metaphysics, and proceeded to produce a long elaboration on the tension between systematization and organic development. Foremost was the work of Hegel, whose Logic and Phenomenology of Spirit produced a "dialectical" framework for ordering of knowledge. The 19th century would also include Schopenhauer's negation of the will. As with the 18th century, it would be developments in science that would arise from, and then challenge, philosophy: most importantly the work of Charles Darwin, which was based on the idea of organic self-regulation found in philosophers such as Adam Smith, but fundamentally challenged established conceptions.

Also in the 19th century, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard took philosophy in a new direction by focusing less on abstract concepts and more on what it means to be an existing individual. His work provided impetus for many 20th century philosophical movements, including existentialism.

Contemporary philosophy

The 20th century deals with the upheavals produced by a series of conflicts within philosophical discourse over the basis of knowledge, with classical certainties overthrown, and new social, economic, scientific and logical problems. 20th century philosophy was set for a series of attempts to reform and preserve, and to alter or abolish, older knowledge systems. Seminal figures include Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Edmund Husserl. Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, and its basis was a central concern, as seen from the work of Heidegger, Russell, Karl Popper, and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Phenomenologically oriented metaphysics undergirded existentialism (Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Albert Camus) and finally poststructuralism (Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida). Pragmatist Richard Rorty has argued that these and other schools of 20th-century philosophy, including his own, share an opposition to classical dualism that is both anti-essentialist and antimetaphysical.[1] The psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, and others has also been influential in contemporary continental philosophy.

A notable phenomenon of the latter half of the century was the rise of popular philosophers who promulgated systems for dealing with the world but were isolated from academic philosophy, such as Ayn Rand, who were radical critics of traditional philosophy and psychology and relied on unorthodox methods. Conversely, some philosophers have attempted to define and rehabilitate older traditions of philosophy. Most notably, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Alasdair MacIntyre have both, albeit in different ways, revived the tradition of Aristotelianism.

The 21st century's philosophy is difficult to clarify due to the short span of time that has lapsed since the start of the new millennium. Only nearly one decade has passed since its beginning, however it is usually seen as being defined by the prominent 20th-century philosophers who still survive today. These include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Saul Kripke and Jürgen Habermas, whose work as professors and educators in the field of philosophy have allowed them to reach prominence in the mainstream media. The 21st century continues to carry with it much of the philosophical debate seen in the former one, with continental and analytic traditions still reigning in major debate. A variety of new topics, however, have risen to the stage, resurrecting ethics into the modern philosophical discussion. For instance the implications of new media and information exchange, such as the Internet, have brought back interest in the philosophy of technology and science.[citation needed]