What is intentionality? Intentionality is a distinguishing characteristic of states of mind (such as beliefs, thoughts, wishes, dreams, and desires): that they are about things outside themselves. About this book: William Lyons explores various ways in which philosophers have tried to explain intentionality, and then suggests a new way. Part I of the book gives a critical account of the five most comprehensive and prominent current approaches to intentionality. These approaches can be summarised as the instrumentalist approach, derived from Carnap and Quine and culminating in the work of Daniel Dennett; the linguistic approach, derived from the work of Chomsky and exhibited most fully in the work of Jerry Fodor; the biological approach, developed by Ruth Garrett Millikan, Colin McGinn, and others; the information-processing approach which has been given a definitive form in the work of Fred Dretske; and the functional role approach of Brian Loar. In Part II, Professor Lyons sets out a multi-level, developmental approach to intentionality.
Drawing upon work in neurophysiology and psychology, the author argues that intentionality is to be found, in different forms, at the levels of brain functioning, prelinguistic consciousness, language, and at the holistic level of 'whole person performance' which is demarcated by our ordinary everyday talk about beliefs, desires, hopes, intentions, and the other 'propositional attitudes'. Written in a direct, clear, and lively style, the extended survey of contemporary debate in Part I will be invaluable to the student of philosophy of mind or cognitive science as well as to the scholars and graduate students who will find an original new theory to contend with in Part II.