Schopenhauer already defined "intentionality". It's called Representation.

He separates representation into subject and object and says that neither can exist without the other.

No object without a subject. "The World as Will and Representation", Vol. 1, App. Critique of the Kantian philosophy.

To be Object for the Subject and to be our representation, are the same thing. - Delphi Collected Works of Arthur Schopenhauer (Delphi Series Eight Book 12) (p. 63). "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason", §16.

All knowledge presupposes Subject and Object ... Proposition “I know” is identical with “Objects exist for me,” and this again is identical with “I am Subject,” - Delphi Collected Works of Arthur Schopenhauer (Delphi Series Eight Book 12) (p. 191).

Then he nailed it here:

A consciousness without an object is no consciousness. - Delphi Collected Works of Arthur Schopenhauer (Delphi Series Eight Book 12) (p. 969). "The World as Will and Representation", Vol. 2, Chap. 1.

Which is a thing known as "intentionality" in philosophy.

I am not familiar with modern philosophy but I had to ask was it necessary to create term "intentionality" and spend various lifetimes on writing PHDs about it?

Why philosophers did not use this simple definition of Schopenhauer but instead had to create weird conceptions?

  • 3
    Please restate which term has been defined and how the definition explicity reads. Also a reference to the corresponding section of "The World as Will and Representation" would be helpful; thanks.
    – Jo Wehler
    Feb 7 at 17:17
  • I am not sure what is not clear? I just expressed my frustration about modern philosophy. Anyway I did changed as requested. Hope it helps.
    – Alexa
    Feb 7 at 17:28
  • Bullialdus, Halley, Wren and Hooke already formulated the inverse square law of gravity, what Newton is remembered for is fleshing out evidence that made it broadly accepted and developing a theory based on it. At the vague level you cite, intentionality of mind long predates Schopenhauer, the name and the concept go back to medieval scholastic authors. Brentano (and Husserl) are remembered for fleshing out phenomenological evidence for it and building comprehensive theories of conscious experience with it as a centerpiece.
    – Conifold
    Feb 7 at 18:51
  • @JoWehler why did you change my question? Please don't mix Schopenhauer with "intentionality" charlatans
    – Alexa
    Feb 8 at 9:00
  • @Alexa I apologize if the changed title does not represent your intention. If I remember right the original was "intentionality vs Schopenhauer" which is neither a question nor makes sense as a confrontation. But you can edit again and reset the title as you prefer, sorry for that. - I also added precise references, because just giving the page number from over 2000 pages of a complete edition - not the critical edition - was not enough help. - Whom do you mean by "intentionality" charlatans?
    – Jo Wehler
    Feb 8 at 9:16

2 Answers 2


SEP - Intentionality


‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher’s word: ever since the idea, if not the word itself, was introduced into philosophy by Franz Brentano in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it has been used to refer to the puzzles of representation, all of which lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language.

How should one understand the relation between the content of an individual’s mental state and the meanings of external symbols used by the individual to express her internal mental states? Are representations of the world part of the world they represent?

Philosophy in One Lecture

Daniel Bonevac


In this lecture an object in the mind is depicted as a triangle and the questions of how these representations in the mind relate to the objects in reality and to the objects in the minds of others is inherent in skeptical philosophy. This goes back to ancient philosophers. Language is the expression of a sign, symbol, or gesture with the effort to communicate meaning. All communication efforts map to representations in the mind and raise questions of intentionality.


Lexicography is the compiling of dictionary definitions. Every philosopher (person) is ultimately their own lexicographer - the meaning of any expressed word, sign, gesture, symbol maps to states in their mind which are not necessarily the same meaning(s) in the minds of others.

  • Since knowledge presupposes Subject and Object, what is object will depend on knowing Subject. In another words object can have different properties depending on a context. See term bounded context from Software engineering.
    – Alexa
    Feb 11 at 10:07

First, that's not a definition; it's an observation about the significance of intentionality to consciousness. Second, there is a lot more to be said about intentionality beyond that simple observation. Is the observation true? Is intentionality or anything like it present in the non-mental part of nature? Can intentionality be reduced to something else? What particular things count as intentionality? Are there mental states that are not intentional? Etc.

  • Why something needs to be defined to be true? My point was that instead of using incomprehensible jargon we could instead just accept Schopenhauer description which is very clear.
    – Alexa
    Feb 11 at 10:05
  • 1
    @Alexa, who said something had to be defined to be true? It was you who called it a definition. And my answer explained the point of the jargon. It seems that you don't really want an answer, you are just arguing for a particular point of view. Feb 11 at 13:14
  • The definition is that it's called Representation.
    – Alexa
    Apr 1 at 7:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .