BRENTANO'S PROBLEM

BRENTANO'S PROBLEM BRENTANO'S PROBLEM John HALDANE University of St. Andrews By way of clarifying my title, and eorreeting an impression now widely held among analytieal philosophers interested in these issues, I should make clear at the outset my understanding of 'Brentano's Problem'. 1 Firstly, then, it is not what Hartry Field claims it to be in his influential essay "Mental Representation". There he writes as follows: "Many mental properties - believing, desiring, and so forth - appear to be relational properties: more precisely, they appear to relate people to non-linguistic entities called propositions. So any materialist who takes believing and desiring at face value - any materialist who admits that belief and desire are relations between people and propositions -any such materialist must show that the relations in question are not irreducibly mental. Brentano feit that this could not be done; and since he saw no alternative to viewing belief and desire as relations to propositions, he coneludes that materialism must be false ... the problem (which Brentano believed to be unsolvable) [is that] of giving a materialistically adequate account of believing and so forth."2 Brentano was an anti-materialist and was supported in this by his belief that thought is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Grazer Philosophische Studien Brill

BRENTANO'S PROBLEM

BRENTANO'S PROBLEM


BRENTANO'S PROBLEM John HALDANE University of St. Andrews By way of clarifying my title, and eorreeting an impression now widely held among analytieal philosophers interested in these issues, I should make clear at the outset my understanding of 'Brentano's Problem'. 1 Firstly, then, it is not what Hartry Field claims it to be in his influential essay "Mental Representation". There he writes as follows: "Many mental properties - believing, desiring, and so forth - appear to be relational properties: more precisely, they appear to relate people to non-linguistic entities called propositions. So any materialist who takes believing and desiring at face value - any materialist who admits that belief and desire are relations between people and propositions -any such materialist must show that the relations in question are not irreducibly mental. Brentano feit that this could not be done; and since he saw no alternative to viewing belief and desire as relations to propositions, he coneludes that materialism must be false ... the problem (which Brentano believed to be unsolvable) [is that] of giving a materialistically adequate account of believing and so forth."2 Brentano was an anti-materialist and was supported in this by his belief that thought is a non-physieal phenomenon. However, while he onee believed that mental aets are relational he never supposed that they relate their subjeets to propositions. Moreover, in his later work he abandoned the idea that intentionality is any kind of relation, and indeed even denied that there are relations at all. So Field's attribution is about as mistaken as it is possible to be. Nonetheless, Brentano's philosophy of mind does introduee a major problem, viz.; that ofhow to explain the eontentfulness of mental states without either lapsing 1. Some of the material contained herein was presented in the form of a talk as the opening session of the Inaugural Conference of the...
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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© Copyright 1989 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0165-9227
eISSN
1875-6735
D.O.I.
10.1163/18756735-90000410
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

BRENTANO'S PROBLEM John HALDANE University of St. Andrews By way of clarifying my title, and eorreeting an impression now widely held among analytieal philosophers interested in these issues, I should make clear at the outset my understanding of 'Brentano's Problem'. 1 Firstly, then, it is not what Hartry Field claims it to be in his influential essay "Mental Representation". There he writes as follows: "Many mental properties - believing, desiring, and so forth - appear to be relational properties: more precisely, they appear to relate people to non-linguistic entities called propositions. So any materialist who takes believing and desiring at face value - any materialist who admits that belief and desire are relations between people and propositions -any such materialist must show that the relations in question are not irreducibly mental. Brentano feit that this could not be done; and since he saw no alternative to viewing belief and desire as relations to propositions, he coneludes that materialism must be false ... the problem (which Brentano believed to be unsolvable) [is that] of giving a materialistically adequate account of believing and so forth."2 Brentano was an anti-materialist and was supported in this by his belief that thought is

Journal

Grazer Philosophische StudienBrill

Published: Aug 13, 1989

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