Does Brentano’s characterization of intentionality presuppose a certain grammar?


Does Brentano’s definition of intentionality as intentional inexistence presuppose a subject-object grammar?

I’m not sure, but let’s look at a few philosophical exercises I’ve concocted in thinking about this.

  1. The ball appears red to me.
  2. The ball is red to me
  3. Ben thinks that the ball is red.
  4. I assumed you meant that I hadn’t heard you completely.

1 and 3 are classical examples of “intentional propositions”.  4 is a bit trickier in a most fortunate way–it is fortunate because it is a counterfactual and thus specific to the English language (Mandarin, for example, “has no formal [that is, corresponding] translation for counterfactual expressions).  It is also intentionally rich—the expressions “I assumed” and “you meant” are clearly intentional phrases in the sense that ‘intentional’ means ‘to seem as if’–think of a simile.

Intentional inexistence says that all intentional acts obtain independent of the truth of their object(s).  We can have thoughts without our thoughts “actually referring to” something.

The question is, does this sort of characterization presuppose a function of language, namely, “the subject-object” function?

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