Sartre, consciousness, and intentionality

Rowlands, Mark 2013. Sartre, consciousness, and intentionality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12(30: 521-536.

All consciousness, as Husserl has shoown, is consciousness of something. This means that there is no consciousness that is not a positing of a transcendent object, or if you prefer, that consciousness has no 'content'.
The first, mundane, claim is that all consciousness is intentional. The claim is, of course, not utterly mundane: doubted by some, it nevertheless provides the starting point for philosophy in the Brentanian - hence philosophical - tradition, and is also widely accepted outside that tradition. Let us call this the Intentionality Thesis (IT). The second claim is far less mundane. Consciousness has no 'content'. Let us call this the No Content Thesis (NCT). This claim seems prima facie implausible. If consciousness has no content then, it seems, ther eis nothing in it. (Rowlands 2013: 521)
Oh my gawd, I hate phenomenology. There's no getting around it. How is the Intentionality Thesis mundane? Because phenomenologists keep repeating it as if saying it enough times makes it true? I have yet to see any substantial proof behind this thesis. That being said, there are certainly connections with Mamardašvili and Pjatigorski, who also wrestle with the content of consciousness.
No object of consciousness can be part of consciousness. That is:
(NCT) Necessarily, any object of consciousness is outside consciousness.
Sartre uses the term "transcendent" to refer to items that are outside consciousness. Thus, according to NCT, any object of consciousness is, necessarily, a transcendent thing. (Rowlands 2013: 522)
If you say so. Personally, I don't think consciousness can be studied through language and imagery games that pay lip service to logic. M. and P. are at least self-conscious of it.
To properly understand what NCT does and does not entail, we need, first, to observe the familiar distinction between acts and objects of consciousness. This distinction, in Sartre's work, corresponds to the distinction between two types of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself respectively. (Rowlands 2013: 522)
St ühel pool teadvuse mõismine, töö ja võitlus teadvusega; teisel pool teadvuse sfäär, seisund ja struktuur.
Acts of consciousness include things such as seeing (and perceiving more generally), thinking, remembering, desiring, imagining, emoting, anticipating, dreading, and so on. An object of consciousness is that of which I am aware when I engage in an act of consciousness. (Rowlands 2013: 522)
Seega ei, siin on teooria, mitte metateooria, tasand. Teadvuse tegevused on ikkagi nägemine, kuulmine jne.
Given that NCT is supposed to be an implication of IT, the rejection of intentional objects as contents of consciousness must, it seems, be grounded in an argument of the following sort:
  1. Consciousness is intentional
  2. No object of consciousness can be intentional
  3. Therefore, no object of consciousness can be part of consciousness
Claim 3 is, of course, NCT. Necessarily, any object of consciousness is outside of consciousness - a transcendent thing.
For the argument to work, a little tidying up is required. First, we should distinguish derived and non-derived or original intentionality. Derived intentionality is, roughly, intentionality that derives either from the minds or from the social conventions of intentional agents. Non-derived, or original, intentionality is intentionality that does not so derive. The Brintanian thesis, expressed as premise 1, is that consciousness is intentional in an original, or non-derived, sense. Moreover, the inclusion of derived intentionality would clearly make premise 2 false. We can, and often do, use symbols to stand in, or go proxy, for other things. (Rowlands 2013: 524)
Noneh. Kõige selle mõistmiseks tuleb vististi hakata Brentanot lugema. Tema intentsionaalsus on iseenesest müstiline - kui sellele lisada tuletatud intentsionaalsus siis muutub asi juba võimatuks ajuakrobaatikaks.
The hard work in defending premise 2 begins when the object is a mental one. Consider, for exampl, something that, prima facie, seems a very good candidate for object of consciousness with original intentionality: a mental image. Suppose I stare at a dog. Then close my eyes and picture it. I form a mental image of the dog. I am aware of this image. Therefore, it is an object of my consciousness. It is also about the dog. Therefore it certainly seems to have an original intentional status.
However, we can use an argument, generally associated with Wittgenstein rather than Sartre, to show why this is not, in fact, the case. The image, is, logically, just a symbol. In itself, it can mean many things, perhaps anything. It might mean - stand in for, be about - this particular dog or about dogs in general. It might mean 'furry thing', 'thing with four legs', 'thing with tail', 'thing with cold nose', 'mammal', and so on. In itself, the image can mean many things. To have specific meaning - to be about one thing rather than other things - it must be interpreted. And this, on the Sartrean scheme, is what consciousness - as act - does. More accurately, it is what consciousness, as act, is. Consciousness, in this context, is the interpretation of the image as being about one thing rather than others - in the mode, as Sartre would say, of not being it. The expression 'in the mode of not being it', signifies that it is not possible to assert that consciousness is interpreting activity. If the interpreting activity of my consciousness were, for example, to become an object of my consciousness, then it would no longer be part of my consciousness. The activity would be transcendent. (Rowlands 2013: 525)
Niiet teadvusel ikkagi on objektid? Teadvus on tõlgendus? Ma ei saa aru kas siin on konkreetsed vastused või mitte. Näib, et argumenteeritakse lihtsalt argumenteerimise pärast. Eriti häirib mind, et kujutluspildi (a mental image) tähendusele lähenetakse kui verbaalsele sümbolile, mis tundub lihtsalt kohatu. Kui sa vaatad koera, sulged silma ja kujutad sama koera pilti, siis see kujutis on ikkagi sama koera kujutis ja selle "tähendus", kui siin üldse saab tähendusest rääkida, on sama koer või pigem sinu suhe sellesse koera. Lühidalt, mind häirib, et siin usaldatakse keelefilosoofiat nähtuste puhul millel on vähe pistmist keelega.
The intentionality of consciousness, Sartre notes, has been understood in two ways:
All consciousness is consciousness of something. This definition of consciousness can be taken in two very distinct senses: either we nuderstand by this that consciousness is constitutive of the being of its object, or it means that consciousness in its inmost nature is a relation to a transcendent being. But the first interpretation destroys itself: to be conscious of something is to be confronted with a concrete and full presence which is not consciousness.
The first interpretation 'destroys itself,' Sartre has argued in the preceding pages, for the reasons ultimately grounded in NCT. No object of consciousness can be part of consciousness since consciousness is intentional (in an original sense) and no object of consciousness can be intentional (in an original sense). There is nothing in consciousness, and therefore there are no resources from which the being of transcendent objects could be construed. (Rowlands 2013: 527)
Niiet välistatakse võimalus, et ollakse teadvusel sellest, et ollakse teadvusel. Aga kui ma pärast rasket trenni jalutan spordihallist ühiselamusse ja olen nii väsinud, et ei mõtle mitte millestki ja ei pane tähelegi kuidas ma kohale jõuan - kas ma ei olnud siis teadvusel?
Consciousness of consciousness would, therefore, seem to be impossible. However, this is a claim that Sartre denies. Indeed. Sartre insists that self-consciousness - consciousness of consciousness - is essentially involved in every conscious act. (Rowlands 2013: 530)
Natukenegi mõistlik, aga tõestab jällegi, et loogikaga ei ole väga mõttekas teadvusele läheneda, sest see võib muutuda tundmatuseni ja korjata üles "järelikult" vidinaid mis ei vasta tegelikkusele vähimalgi kombel.


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