© J. Glenn Friesen 2003-2006
Glossary of Terms
The structure of our theoretical thought, which is characterized by the Gegenstand-relation, is "only an intentional one; it does not have an ontical character." (NC I, 39). What does Dooyeweerd mean by only "intentional?"
For an extensive discussion of Dooyeweerd's meaning of 'intentional' and how this differs from the meaning of the term as used in phenomenology, see my article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,” (2006). When acts are “purely intentional,” they are directed inwardly. That is, they are directed to our functions within our temporal body, without reference to what is happening outside. In the case of theory, our own temporal functions of consciousness are analyzed in the Gegenstand-relation. When they are directed outwardly, our acts become actions. Our acts of imagination are directed intentionally in this way. In our imagination, we discover the figure, the anticipation of what an individuality structure in the temporal world may become, but which is presently only a potential reality. In finding the figure within the temporal world, and in realizing it and embodying it, we form history, and we fulfill the reality of temporal structures. God’s law or Wisdom gives the connection between this internal figure of our imagination and the modal aspects in which our body and other temporal structures of individuality function.
Our acts have three intentional directions: thinking, willing and imagining. (NC III, 88). Theoretical thought is then certainly an act that, like other acts, proceeds out of our center. Dooyeweerd says that the intentional character of the “acts” lies their “innerness” [innerlijkheid]. It is the performance (activity) which actualizes (realizes) the intention of the act. (Proposition XIV, “32 Propositions on Anthropology”). Thus, an intentional act still needs to be actualized or realized in temporal reality. What else can be said about intentionality insofar as it relates to theory?
Dooyeweerd’s view of intentionality, and of the Gegenstand-relation generally, have been seen as connected with his acknowledged dependence on Husserl’s phenomenology (NC I, v). For Husserl, intentionality is related to his idea of epoché, which is an attempt to get at the "things themselves." But Dooyeweerd specifically rejects Husserl’s epoché (NC II, 73). Husserl's view of intentionality also conflicts with Dooyeweerd’s view that the Gegenstand-relation does not point to an ontic reality at all. Dooyeweerd emphasizes that our theoretical splitting apart of the temporal systasis of the aspects into a dis-stasis is only epistemological, and not ontical. The temporal coherence of the modal aspects, as it gives itself to our experience of individuality structures of temporal reality, is a systasis. In his last article, Dooyeweerd says,
In the same article, Dooyeweerd refers to the antithetical relation between the logical function of thought and the non-logical aspects as merely intentional (p. 83). The logical function of thought is actual, but the abstracted non-logical aspects are non-actual:
See also Dooyeweerd's Transcendental Problems of Philosophic Thought, (Eerdmans, 1948), 69.
For Dooyeweerd, the Gegenstand-relation is rather an “intentional inexistence,” to use Brentano’s terminology. The concept of intentionality is a central point of Franz Brentano’s ontology of mind. Brentano’s classic statement of intentionality [ Intentionalität] is found at: Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874):
This has been translated as:
This statement has caused much discussion among phenomenologists. In particular, the meaning of ‘intentional inexistence’ has been unclear. I believe that part of the confusion has been caused by the English translation, which does not distinguish between Gegenstand and object. A further confusion has been caused by the fact that most of the discussion of ‘intentional inexistence’ has centered on our ability to imagine fictitious objects as such unicorns, or ‘the gold mountain’ or even of impossible objects, such as ‘the round square.’ But although intentionality includes such fictional objects, that is not the main point of the meaning of Inexistenz. Brentano’s point is that all ‘objects’ of thought have this quality of intentional inexistence. He applies it to ‘every mental phenomenon.’
Brentano specifically says that by the ‘object’ of thought we are not to understand a reality. It is an ‘immanent Gegenständlichkeit.’ This has frequently been seen as ‘immanence within thought’ as opposed to an existence outside of thought. But ‘immanence’ can also contrast our temporal existence to the transcendence of the supratemporal. This fits with Spiegelberg’s interpretation of ‘intentional inexistence.’ Spiegelberg says that the original scholastic meaning of ‘intentional inexistence’ was not nonexistence but ”the existence of an "intentio" inside the intending being, as if embedded in it.” (Herbert Spiegelberg: The Context of the Phenomenological Movement, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969, p. 40).At p. 39, Spiegelberg gives this translation of the passage where Brentano introduced his idea of intentionality:
Spiegelberg refers to the use of the term by Acquinas. In scholastic philosophy, 'intentio' ”signifies the peculiar image or likeness formed in the soul in the process of acquiring knowledge, thus representing, as it were, a kind of distillate from the world outside.” Spiegelberg says that, although traces of this meaning exist in Brentano, he uses the term 'intentio' only in conjunction with the idea of intentional inexistence. He says that this usage of 'intentional' is completely original to Brentano, and that Brentano later abandoned it. At p. 107, Spiegelberg says that when Husserl's took over the idea of directness towards objects, he abandoned the idea of their immanency in the act. It is Husserl's idea of directness or intentionality that has been improperly used in attempting to interpret Dooyeweerd.
Whether or not Brentano was original in his use of 'intentio,' Franz von Baader also relates Inexistenz to immanence. For example, he says that Inexistenz is a synonym of the immanence of all things in God:
The temporal world as Inexistenz inheres in, dwells in, or subsists in our own existence. As existent beings, it is our mission to descend to the temporal world and to raise it up to its true existence. When we do that, the temporal world is eternally revealed to eternal creatures, such as the angels (Fermenta VI, 17). Baader relies here on Böhme, who says that the world was in eternal Wisdom as a figure invisible to intelligent creatures. The world reaches its true end only by Man (Fermenta VI, 15). Whether Baader’s ideas of Inexistenz influenced Franz Brentano (1838-1917) deserves further research. Baader did influence Franz Brentano’s uncle, the poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842).
This interpretation of ‘intentionality’ as a descent to temporal Inexistenz also fits with Dooyeweerd’s view of theory. He says that the Gegenstand of our thought does not have a real or ontical status because it is an abstraction from the full reality.
In his "32 Propositions on Anthropology" Dooyeweerd says that by "intentional" [bedoelend] he means that we direct ourselves to states of affairs in [temporal] reality or in our imagination. We relate these states of affairs to our [supratemporal] I-ness in order to "make them our own." Phenomenology improperly elevates this theoretical, merely intentional abstraction to reality, and to interpret Dooyeweerd in that way is a mistake. For Dooyeweerd, the intentional, the theoretical, is not ontical or real.
Dooyeweerd says that we were created as the supratemporal root of temporal reality. We have no existence except in relation to our Origin. But temporal reality has no existence except in relation to humanity, its religious root (NC I, 100; II, 53).
To say that the temporal world has ‘no reality’ apart from its root in humanity means that it can be said have ‘inexistence’ (or what Baader refers to as ‘Inexistenz’).
The states of affairs (which are different from facts) are intentional. They must be related back to our selfhood in order to recognize these states of affairs as our own. This is a very different view of intentionality than has been acknowledged in other Dooyeweerd studies. It refers to movement or relation between the supratemporal and the temporal. [Only the supratemporal root has true existence; we make a movement of intentional Inexistenz. These intentional states of affairs must then be related back to our supratemporal I-ness].
My interpretation of Dooyeweerd and Baader is therefore that in our theory, we must actively and freely [intentionally] make the movement from enstasis to exstasis, from our supra-temporal Existenz to that of immanent Inexistenz. None of the objects of our theoretical thought have real ‘existence’; they have a lower level of reality than our Selfhood, and we must make a conscious and intentional movement from the higher level to a lower level of being.