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  Intentionality (Latin, ‘tend onto’), in philosophy, is aboutness, or object directedness. The history book is intentional because it is about the development of the steam engine. And the picture is intentional because it is a picture of Windsor castle, because it is ‘directed at’ the object Windsor castle.

Most types of mental state are intentional. One cannot have a belief that is not a belief about something. Desires, hopes, fears and love are also essentially intentional. My intention to go to the shops is intentional; it is about something. But not all intentional mental states are intentions; beliefs are intentional but are not intentions. Nor should intentionality be confused with intensionality. A sentence is intensional just if substituting co-referring terms in it may change its truth value. But not all intentional phenomena are sentences; consider pictures and books. The sentence ‘Mary is blonde’ is intentional, it is about something, but it is not intensional. So intentionality is clearly different from intensionality. AJ

See also intensionality and extensionality; mental phenomena.Further reading R. Cummins, Meaning and Mental Representation; , J. Searle, Intentionality.



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Intensionality And Extensionality


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