Hamid Taieb

Relatives and intentionality in Brentano?s last texts

In this paper, I will analyse the last texts of Brentano about the relational aspect of intentionality. I will show that Brentano goes more and more in the direction of a theory in which intentionality is a non-reducible real relative occurring even without an existing correlative. In other words, at the end of his life, intentionality becomes for Brentano what scholars call a “one-sided relation” (J. Haldane) or a “non-extensional relation” (R. M. Chisholm, A. Chrudzimski). To show this, I will use two series of manuscripts from the Nachlass. A first series is composed of unpublished texts, which are useful in understanding Brentano’s evolution concerning relatives and intentionality. A second series is composed of published texts used by A. Kastil in editing the Kategorienlehre. I will show that A. Kastil’s edition is not always faithful to the manuscripts. All the texts from the Kategorienlehre that I will use to support my argument will be compared to the sources in the Nachlass. A large number of scholars admit that Brentano’s last theory of intentionality is not a relational but an adverbial theory. The main source of this interpretation is a well-known text of 1911, in the Appendix to the re-edition of his Psychology, where Brentano says that intentionality is not a relative, but something relative-like (relativlich). Thus, since R. M. Chisholm, interpreters consider that Brentano has reduced, from an ontological point of view, the relational aspect of intentionality to absolute features of the subject, even if he maintained a relational « grammar » for intentionality (A. Chrudzimski, B. Smith). Nevertheless, it seems to me that interpreters provide no text where Brentano explicitly affirms the reduction of the intentional relative to absolute features. I will present a difficult text of 1908, unpublished, where Brentano discusses the interactions between the intentional relative and the absolute features of the subject. Regardless of this text, surely Brentano had an ontologically non-relational theory of intentionality in 1911, as he affirms it himself in the Appendix. However, I believe that things changed in 1915-1916. Indeed, in 1911, the reason for rejecting the relational aspect of intentionality was the absence of a correlative for some acts of thinking (some acts are directed upon non-existing objects, and no mind-dependent correlative can replace these missing objects). As we know, Brentano refused the existence of one-sided relatives in 1911. On the contrary, in 1915-1916, one-sided relatives are admitted: a relative exists even without an existing correlative. By the way, the relatives that were opposed in 1911 to the intentional act as being relatives having existing correlatives, namely the causal and the comparative relatives, will also become one-sided in 1915 (Brentano himself, in an unpublished text of 1915, uses the adjective “einseitig”). Thus, there is a reversal in Brentano’s ontology of relatives. I will show that the main text of the Kategorienlehre that establishes this reversal is a production of A. Kastil, who combined two different manuscripts. It is useful to emend this text, since scholars frequently quote it (L. Gilson, B. Smith, A. Chrudzimski, W. Sauer, M. Antonelli). Despite this emendation, the reversal can be proved.

Of course, one could object that this reversal does not imply that Brentano admits real one-sided relatives. One counterargument could be that Brentano generally reduces relatives to absolute features of their bearers (A. Chrudzimski); thus, the one-sided intentional relative cannot be real in the final analysis. This position seems to me to be questionable. I will show that there are many texts where Brentano says that relatives are as real as absolute entities. In fact, I think that Brentano increasingly affirms the reality of relatives. In an unpublished text of 1915, he considers that relatives are real, but reducible to the categories of the absolute accidents upon which they are founded. So, they do not form a proper category of accidents. But in 1916, in a text published in the Kategorienlehre, he affirms that relatives do form a proper category of accidents. Thus, the general reduction of relatives seems to be difficult to defend. Another argument against my reading could be that even if there is an increasing acceptance of the reality of relatives, this increase does not concern one-sided relatives, which can all be reduced to absolute features, even in 1916. I think that there are two reasons to reject this counterargument. First, Brentano, when he affirms in 1916 that relatives form a proper category of accidents, does not say that the category is limited to two-sided relatives. Second, in a text of 1916 published in the Kategorienlehre, Brentano gives the following list of relatives, containing mainly one-sided ones: categorial, causal, boundary, intentional and comparative relatives. Then, he says that the last class, the one of comparative relatives, is reducible to absolute properties of the bearer. Thus, by contrast, it is not the case for the other classes of relatives, including the intentional relative. Since in 1916 one-sided relatives are admitted, since they are real, since they are members of a proper accidental category and since only the comparative relatives are reducible to absolute features of their bearer, it becomes hard to explain how the intentional one-sided relative could be something else than a non-reducible real relative. I will provide criticism of this theory of intentionality.