Intentionality from structure: a non-relational account of the constitution of phenomenal intentionality
Kenneally, Blaine Gordon John
In recent decades, there has been a growth in the popularity of the view that there is a form of intentionality which is grounded in phenomenal consciousness. Some philosophers have argued that this form of intentionality is non-relational in nature. In this thesis, I consider what phenomenal conditions might ground a non-relational form of intentionality. I argue that this non-relational phenomenal intentionality is constituted by the structural organisation of phenomenal qualities. In Part I, I consider the mistakes we are prone to, and should avoid, when it comes to theorising about phenomenally conscious experience. I show that, in the debate over the ‘transparency’ of experience, disputants have overlooked the crucial distinction between metaphysics and phenomenology, which we should take care to respect. I then show that disputants have also conflated two different sorts of 'seeming', and as such have made a mistake about what is 'given' to us in experience. I explain in detail why we are susceptible to mistakes about what is 'given', in order that we might take steps to avoid them. With the avoidance of these errors in mind, in Part II I assess six suggestions as to what phenomenal conditions are constitutive of phenomenal intentionality. I identify, as a promising candidate, the suggestion that phenomenal intentionality is constituted by the structural organisation of more basic phenomenal elements. I then consider in more depth how mistakes about what is 'given' might be made in relation to phenomenal intentionality. I argue that the structural organisation account carries minimal risk of such errors, given that it commits only to phenomenological claims which are broadly agreed upon. In Part III, I flesh out the structural organisation account, articulating my own more detailed theory as to how non-intentional elements of phenomenal character— phenomenal qualities—come to constitute phenomenal intentionality when structurally organised in the appropriate way.