intention

intention

[in-ten-shuhn]

In Scholastic logic and psychology, a concept used to describe a mode of being or relation between a mind and an object. In knowing, the mind is said to “intend” or “tend toward” its object, and a thing as known, or in the knowing mind, has “intentional being,” as with squaring the circle, which, though impossible, can be an object of intention. In action theory, intention is taken in a different but related sense, as in acting with the intention of accomplishing a specific purpose. An important question in action theory is that of the relation between having a specific intention in doing something and doing the same thing intentionally. Is an intention necessary for intentional action and, if so, is it a cause of such action or some other kind of ground of it?

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An agent's intention in performing an action is his or her specific purpose in doing so, the end or goal that is aimed at, or intended to accomplish. Whether an action is successful or unsuccessful depends at least on whether the intended result was brought about. Other consequences of someone's acting are called unintentional. Intentional behavior can also be just thoughtful and deliberate goal-directedness.

In Philosophy

G.E.M Anscombe made the topic of intentional action a major topic of analytic philosophy with her 1957 work Intention. She argued that intentional action was coextensive with action of which one could ask "why were you doing that?" In the sense that Anscombe meant her question, it was "refused application" by the answer "I was not aware that I was doing that," but not by "for no reason at all." Therefore Anscombe held that it was possible to act intentionally for no reason at all. She also claimed that intentional action was subject to "knowledge without observation."

Related terms

  • In the philosophy of mind, intentionality is the property of being "about" something else, or to have some subject matter, in a certain way. Many states of mind, such as thinking about the pyramids, are characteristically about things (in this case the pyramids). Other things, such as words and paintings, can also have kinds of intentionality. Rocks and tables, in general, do not have intentional states.

See also

References

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