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Intentionality in Medieval Augustinianism

Zurück zum Heft: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2018-2
DOI: https://doi.org/10.28937/1000108200
EUR 16,90

Since Brentano, intentionality has become a key feature of debates within philosophy of mind and epistemology, expressing the directedness and the aboutness of mental acts. In recent decades, a wide range of studies has shown the historical background of this concept beyond the historical sources Brentano himself acknowledged. Augustine (354–430) has been prominently mentioned in some of these studies, the focus of which has mostly been on the aboutness aspect, that is to say on how this mental event is about a particular thing. I think there is yet another side to Augustine’s account of intentionality and this is the general undetermined directedness of the soul to the world, which results from its way of being in the body. Such an account commits Augustine to a certain account of perception, one which does not accept that we are causally acted upon by material things, but rather suggests that we are the agents, and causes, of our own cognitive acts. This is true not only of Augustine but also of many medieval authors within the tradition of Augustinian philosophy of perception. The focus of this article is how this position is elaborated in some thinkers of the Middle Ages, namely Henry of Ghent (1217–1293) and Peter John Olivi (1248–1298).