Does Brentano´s Intentionality Thesis Necessarily Lead to Internalism?
In his criticism of internalism, Putnam takes himself to be attacking Brentanos heritage. But this conception of his own criticism is closely tied to a certain historical context: it is tied to a certain appropriation of Brentano by analytic philosophy; an appropriation that took the intentionality thesis to be a thesis about the intensional nature of – at least certain – mental states and their capacity to refer. In an historical context in which such an appropriation of the intentionality thesis was widespread, Putnams criticism of internalism could be considered a criticism of Brentanos intentionality thesis as such.In my paper, I want to revisit Putnams criticism so as to ask whether it is as opposed to Brentanos intentionality thesis as is commonly supposed. I would like to show that Brentanos thesis need not lead to the internalism that Putnam attacks and that there is indeed a side to Brentanos thesis that is far from hostile to Putnams criticism. This side, I will argue, is the anti-psychologistic side of Brentanos thesis. Brentanos claim that mental phenomena are intentional contains crucial elements for a criticism of a wide-spread conception of mental entities – in particular, it contains a potential criticism of psychologistic theories of meaning that recur to such mental entities. This aspect of Brentanos thesis was neglected in its appropriation by analytic philosophy but it was at the center of the debates led during Brentanos lifetime by his own students.I will begin my argument by presenting Putnams criticism of internalism and showing how it is framed as an attack on Brentanos heritage. I will then present the aspect of Brentanos intentionality thesis that is clearly hostile to the internalist interpretation that became predominant in analytic philosophy. To do so, I will not only refer to Brentanos own argumentation, but I will also show how the intentionality thesiss hostility to psychologistic theories of meaning was emphasized by two of his students, Twardowski and Husserl. In the light of this re-evaluation of Brentanos thesis, I will then return to Putnams criticism so as to show that they both in fact have more in common than one may think and that the basis of this convergence is a certain criticism of psychologism.