Ibn Sina and Husserl on intention and intentionality

Philosophy East and West 54 (1):71-82 (2004)
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Abstract

: The concepts of intention and intentionality were particularly significant notions within the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic medieval philosophical traditions, and they regained philosophical importance in the twentieth century. The theories of intention and intentionality of the medieval Islamic philosopher and physician Ibn Sina and the phenomenological philosopher and mathematician Edmund Husserl are examined, compared, and contrasted here, showing that Ibn Sina's conception of intention is naturalistic and, in its naturalism, is influenced by the medical professional culture to which Ibn Sina belonged. As well, Husserl's anti-naturalistic conception of intentionality is influenced by his background as a mathematician and by his desire to ground mathematics and the empirical sciences in a truly scientific philosophy. In conclusion, an argument is presented for the superiority of the Husserlian transcendentalist account of intentionality over the Avicennian naturalistic account, on the grounds that the latter falls prey to psychologism and reductionism, the two specters that according to Husserl must haunt all naturalistic accounts of consciousness.

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