Frank Brentano’s Two Theses on Consciousness Denis Fisette (Université du Québec à Montréal)

(Austrian/German Phil of Mind) B advocates a “Pre-reflexive”, intransitive C.

Thesis 1 Every mental phenomenon is (a) consciousness Jeder physische Akt ist (ein) Bewußtsein Thesis 2 Every mental act is conscious Jeder physische Akt ist bewußt

Revised (Denis) 1 every mental phenom is C of something 2 every mental phenom is object of C

B on modes - »zwei gänzlich verschiedene Weisen des Bewusstseins von einem Gegenstände« (Schriften I, p.223)

C ’in recto’ and c ’in obliquo’ (treating modes) Example. Sound = primary obj of hearing, act of hearing is secondary. Temporally identical, but sound is here prior.

Dretske crit. Rosental - (Mitempfinden: “concomitantly experienced”) Lark I. Blue sky, Armstrong’s inattentive driver: DF states that B would hold the driver is still implicitly aware of himself driving (in obliquo)- the secondary object

In recto is the relation of the primary object to C.

• On thesis 2 If thesis one and two are taken with the supposition that the initial mental state is numerically distinct from the ’targeted’ mental state (quotes mine)

If take wi thesis 2, we have threat of regression

Response: separation is only a conceptual abstraction. Presentations are conceptually divided into two, but form a single mental phenomenon ...”the mental act of hearing becomes at the same time it's own object and content, taken as a whole.” (Psych, p. 100; Schriften I, p.148)

3 kinds of relation: (Photo)

DF- problem of complexity: C of this 2ndary obj is threefold: involves presentation, cognition, and feeling towards - consequ, four aspects to mental act

B goes to collective as explanandum - whole & parts (more than? Unclear)

.... Does Brentano then help highlight the big argument on C vis a vis reducibility or no, ultimately a sorites problem of what the bottom limits of C are?

Two problems (DF) 1. What or who is this “unitary real being” .... Can’t a Kantian-style transcendental deduct. answer this? 2. How can C be the unifying principle for both complex mental states and their perceptual modes?

2ndary obj not a reference, but a mental activity

... If C is a willed act, then perhaps just having a C of C can lead to regress but doesn't, merely by virtue of requiring will - volition, really - to accomplish every further regressive iteration.


Q&A Dainton- is B dualist? (Cartesian) DF- not really enough material to answer, but definitely not Cartesian- agents are material

It was only the state that has to be conscious - an intrinsic predicate of a state?

Itay- how does C achieve unity? Why unity other than aggregation? DF- complexity of elements guarantees experience as a whole (comes despite complexity - so we presuppose there is a unifying principle) -we presuppose not only unity, but simultaneity (recent paper from Textor)