Rational Intentionality Study Sections

    I have begun discussing the nature of intentionality in order to understand what words and concepts are. I have shown that all things have natural intentionality in four ways: the purpose of a capacity or a thing, the existence of a thing, the perfection of a thing and the relationship of some feature to what it is related to. But rational intentionality is not the same as natural intentionality. It allows one thing to represent another without a natural intention linking the two. Rational intentionality can only be understood if rationality itself is understood first.

    Rational intentionality allows one thing to represent another without a natural intention linking the two. For example, imagine that there is a table with two stones on it. One of the stones is red and another is green. I claim that the red stone means war while the green stone means peace. If you indicate the red stone, then this means that you are saying “war”. But there is no natural link of any kind between a red stone and war. War has nothing at all to do with stones no matter what their color might be. Therefore, rational intentionality does not depend on the natural intentionality found in the representation.

    However, the representation only exists as long as human beings are representing things that way. The red stone means war only to those who have used the red stone to mean that. It does not mean that on its own. So if the humans representing things that way were to die or forget the representation, then it would no longer represent that. So it is human beings that are doing the representation and it is because of them that it continues to mean what it does.

    This means that understanding rational intentionality can only be done by understanding the power of rationality that human beings have. It is by this power that we are able to assign meanings to things that do not naturally have those meanings. Without that power, we would be unable to do so. Furthermore, those meanings exist only as long as that power continues to give them those meanings.

    In order to understand rationality, we have to ask what it is. There are several areas of interest. One is concepts. It seems that some concepts are ones that only rational creatures can have such as the concept of “war”, “life” or “brown”. Another is reasoning. It appears that only rational creatures can reason. Still another concept is that of knowledge. It appears that some conceptions of knowledge are limited to rational beings. In ethics, the concepts of responsibility and ethical action seem to require rationality as well. The best course of action is to examine each one of these concepts in order to determine what these concepts require that is related to rationality. Once those questions are answered, we might be able to determine why human beings have the power to create rational intentionality.

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