T h e Intentionality of Sensation: A Gra~nrnatical Feature

G. E. M. Anscombc

Berlteley calls "colours with their variatiorls and different proportions of light and shade" the "propcr" and also tile " i ~ n ~ ~ l e d i a tobjects of sight.' T h c first a t any c" rate long seemed obvious t(o everyone, both before Berkcley and since his timc. But Berkeley's whole view is n o w in some disrepute. Sense-data, a thosouglily Berkeleyan conception givcn that name by Russell, 11ave hccoinc ol2jects of r i d i c ~ ~ l e and contempt a m o n g many 1-i.esent-day philosophers. T h a t w o r d "object" wllicii comes in the phrase "object of sight" has sufferccl a nncl s o has tlic connectccl certain reversal of rncaning iii t11c Iiistory of 12Iiilos0l~liy, w o r d "subject," though the t \ v o reversals aren't historically connected. TIie subject used to I>c \vhat tile prol~osition, say, is ; ~ \ x > L I ~ tlic tliing itsclf as it is in rc;~lit~,: unprocesseci by being conceived, as w e might say (in case there is some sort of processing there); objects 011 tllc otlicr hand wcsc formerly a l w ~ i y s objects of -----. Objects of desire, objects of rhought, are not objccts in one conimon modern senyc, n o t indivtlual things, such as [he ol~jccls Jbirtld it2 11~c accrtsed rtlntt's pockcts. I might illustrate the tloublc 1.eversa1 by a true scntcnce constructed to accord w i h the old meanings: subjectively there must be s o m e dcfinite ~ ~ l u m b of lcrtves o n a cr spray that I sce, but objecti:~ely tlicrc necd not: that is, tlierc necd not bc sol-i~c number. such that I see tliat number of leaves o n the spray. When Descar-tes said that tile causc of a n idea must have a t least as much f o r n ~ a l 11 reality as the idea had objecrive reality, he meant that the cause I I I L I S ~ havc a t Ic;lst, , as much t o it as w h a t the iclc:~was of would have, if w h a t the idea w a s of acti~ally j existed. The " ~ e n l i i n sohjeciiiio" of a n idea thus meant w h a t w c slioulcl call irs "content"-namely w h a t it is of, but considercd as belonging purely to thc idca. " W h a t a pict~11-e of" cnn c:isily be sccn to have t w o meanings: w h a t servctl as a is

i

ruoclel, w h a t the picture w a s taken fronl-and w h a t is to be sec~x thc picture itself, in which may not even have had a n original. Thus formerly if s o ~ n c t h i i ~w a s called a n object that woulcl have raised the g question "objcct of w h a t ? " It is harclly possible to usc the w o r d "object" in this way nowatlays ~ ~ i l l c s s actually occurs in such a phrase as "object of desire" o r it "objcct of t l i o ~ ~ g l i t .S ~ ~ p p o s e " somebocly says that the object of clesire, o r clesirccl objcct, nccd n o t exist, ancl s o there nccd not bc a n y object which one desires. I-Ic is obviously switching f r o m one use of the w o r d "objcct" to anotllcr. If, I~owever, w e speak of objects of sight, o r s e e ~objects, it will usually be assulned that "objects" l has the mo1.c nloc1c1-n s c ~ ~ s thcsc will I J C ol~jccts,tliings, entities, which one sccs. c: N o w to p~.cvcntco~iflisioiiI will i~ltroclllcethe phrase "intentional~ol~jcct" niean to "objcct" in the oldcr sense \vhicll still occurs in "objcct of clcsire." "Intentional" in these contexts is ofteii spelt with a n s. This was a n idea o f Sir Willianl I-lamilton's; lie wanted t o turn the old logical w o r d "intention" into one that looltcd more liltc "extcnsion." I prefer to lteep thc older spelling with t w o ts. For the word is thc same as the one in c o m m o n use in con~lection with action. T h e concept ol intention which we use there of course occurs also in connection with s a y i ~ g T h a t maltcs tlic hriclgc to the logician's use. . Tlicre arc thrcc salient things a h o u t intention which are relevant for my sul~ject. First, not a n y tl-LIC clesci-iption of w h a t you d o clescribes it as the action you intcndcd: only LIIICICS certain of its clescriptions will it be intentional. ( " D o you mean to IJC ~ising that pen?"-"Why, w h a t a b o u t this pc~l?"-"It's Smith's pen."-"Oh L.orcl, no!") Scconcl, the dcscril,tions under which you intend w h a t you d o can be vague, indctcr~ninatc.(You mean to put tllc I,ool< clown o n the tahlc all right, anci ~ O L Id o SO,1)11t O L I cIo not Incan to put it d o w n anywlicrc in particular o n thc table-thougli Y you clo it clown somcwlicrc in partici~lar.) T'liirtl, tlcscriptions under which you i i intend to d o w h a t you d o inay not come truc, as w l i c ~ y o ~ inaltc a slip ol'the tongue o r pen. You act, but your intended act does n o t happen. Intentionality, whose n;lmc is taltcn from intention ancl cxprcsscs tlicsc characteristics of the conccpt ii~rclliiorz,is fount1 also in connection with inany other concepts. I shall argue that amolig thcsc arc conccpts of sensation. I,iltc many conccpts marltecl by intentionality, though unlilie intention itself, these are expressed I>y verbs commonly taking clircct ohjects. I shall speak of intentional verbs, taking intentional objects. I have mentiortcd t l ~ c history of thc w o r d "object" to forestall any impression that "an intentional objcct" ~ n e a l i s" a n inte~ltionalentity."

of Obvious e x a ~ n p l e s inteiltional verbs are " t o think of," " t o worship," " t o shoot at." ( T h e verb "to intetlcl" comes by nletaphor froin the last-"ilztclzdere arcill12 in," leading t o "ilztel~dereatii~liut?z ilz.") W h e r e w e have such a verb taltiilg a n objcct, features analogous to the thl-ee features of i n t e ~ l t i o ~ l a l ~ l in s e s action rclate t o some descriptions occurring as ol~ject-phrases after the verb. T h e possible n o n - e x i s t e ~ ~ c e the object, which is thc analogue of tlie possiblc of non-occurrence of tlie ilztel~tfzd action, is w h a t has cxcitccl most attention a b o u t this sort of verb. "Thiillting of" is a verb for which the topic of the non-existent object is full of traps and temptations; "worshipping" is less dangerous and inay hell> us to ltecp o u r heads. Considcr the cxprcssion "object of thought." I f I a n thinking of Winston Churchill then he is tlie object of illy thought. Tliis is lilte " W h a t is the object of these people's woi-ship?" Answer: "The moon." But n o w supposc thc object of m y thought is Mr Pickwicl<, o r a uilicorn; a n d the object of my worship is Zeus, o r unicorns. With the proper nanles I named n o m a n a n d n o gocl, since they n a m e a fictitious lilall a n d a false god. Moreover Mr Picltwiclt and Zeus arc nothing but a fictitious man a n d a false god (contrast tlie moon, which, thoug11 a false god, is a perfectly good heavenly body). All the sanle it is clcar that "The Greeks worshipped Zeus" is true. T h u s "X worshipped " and "X thoirght of - are not to be a s s i ~ ~ i i l a t e d "X bit - For, supposing "X" to bc " to ." the n a m e of a real person, tlle name of s o m c t h i ~ i g real has to bc p ~ l in tllc bIc~n1< t space in "X bit - if tlie completed scntencc is to have s o much as a chance " of being true. Wliereas in "X worsliippecl - -" and "X thought of - ~ l i ; l t is not so. Tliis fact is readily ol~sc~il.ccl u s bcc:lusc wit11 "X t h o ~ ~01'---~ l ~ t I'ol " tl~c 111ol.c frequent filling-in of thc l>l;~nI< a name o r clcscription of sornc~llin~: IOI.~ \ , l i c ~ l is sc;~l; the blanlt is filled in s o in ;i ti-uc scntcncc, it is thc real tlling itself, not sonlc intermediary, that X thought oi. Tliis ~ilaliesit loolc as if the reality of tlic objcct inattered, as it does for biting. Nevertheless, it is obvious that vacuous names can complete such sentence-fraincs. So perhaps they stand in such frames for somctiiiny, with a sorl of reality. T h a t is the hazy state of mind one inay bc in a b o u t the mart-ce A n o t very happy move to clarify it is t o say, "Well, X had his idea of Zeus, or unicorns, o r M r Pickwick, a n d that gives you the objcct you want." Tliis is a n uilliappy niolre 011 sevel-a1 C O L ~ I IFirst, it maltes it seen1 that the idea is w h a t X was ~S. worshipping o r thinking of. Second, the mere fact of real existence (is this ~ i o w beginning to be opposcd to existence of s o n ~ e other ltind?) can't make s o very 11ii1c11
"

difference to the analysis of a sentence like "X thought of - So i f the idea ." is to be brotigiit in when the object doesn't exist, then equally it should be brought in when tlic ohject ciocs exist. Yet o n e is thinking, surely, of Winston C h ~ ~ r c h i l l , not of the idea of Iiin~,nncl just that fact started us off. When one reads Locke, one wants to protest: "The niincl is not employed about ideas, but a b o u t things-unless ideas arc what w e happen to be thinking about." Whatever purpose is served by introclucing ideas, by saying, "Well, tiley hacl a n idea o f Zeus," w e cannot say that the idea is tlie object of thought, o r worship. It will not be right t o say X worshippecl an idca. it is rather that the subject's having an idca is w h a t is neecled to give tile proposition n chance of being true. This limy seen1 helpful lor "worshipping," I~lrtn o t lor "tliinlting oT"; "thinlcing of" ancl "having ari idea of" arc too sinlil:~r; if the one is j>roblematic, then s o is the other, I.et us concentrate o n tlie fact that Illany ~ x o l x ~ s i t i o containing intcntioilal vcrbs ns arc true, ancl Ict LIS not be hypnotizccl by the possible non-existence of tlie ol,jcct. There arc other Ccatt~rcstoo: 11on-sul?stitutaI,ility of clifferent descriptio~isof the objcct, whcre it does exist; arid possible indeter~ninacy tlie objcct. In fact all three of f e a t ~ i r e s conncctetl. I call think of a Iiian without thinl<ing of a m a n of any parare ticular Iicight; I cannot hit a Inan without hittillg a m a n of sonle particular height, because there is n o such thing as a Inan of n o particiilar height. And the possibility of tliis intletcrnii~iacymakes it possible that when I an1 thinlcing of a particular man, n o t every truc descriptio~l hirii is one under which I a m thinlting of him. of I will n o w define a n intentional verb as a verb taking a n intentional object; intentional objects are tlie sub-class of direct objects characterized by these three connected f e a t ~ ~ r eBy this clefinition, "to believe" and " t o intend" are rlot thelnselves s. intentional verbs, which nlay seem paracloxical. But, say, " t o believe-to be a scoundrel" will accorcl with tlie definitioil, s o that it is not s o paradoxical as t o leave o~lt belief ancl intention altogether. But n o w co~lles cluestion: ought w e really to say that the intentional ohject is a a bit o f language, o r may w e speak as if it wcre what the bit of language stands for? As grammarians ancl linguists use tlie w o r d s nowadays "direct object" allti "indirect objcct" stancl for parts of sentences. So if I call intentional objects a sub-class of dircct objects, that niay seen1 already t o determine that an intentional object is a bit of l a n g ~ ~ n ~ c . I-Iowevel; tlie matter is not s o easily settled. Of course I d o not w a n t to oppose the practice o f grammarians. n u t it is clear t h ~ l t concept of a ctircct ol,ject-;~nd the hence tlie identificatio~lof tlie sentence-part n o w called the direct object-is leariiccl

somewhat as follows: the teacher takes a senrcnce, say "John scnt M a r y a boolt" and says: "What did Jo111l senel M a r y ? " Getting the answer "A book" he says: "That's the direct object." N o w the question does not really suppose, and tlie 12~~pil, if he goes along with the teachel; does not taltc it, that any particular pcoplc, o f who111 the sentence is true; are in question, and s o we Inay say rhat when the tc:icl~ing is S L I C C ~ S S ~ L I ~ qllestioil is unclcrstood as equivalent to "What clocs the senthe tence 'John sent M a r y a book' say John scnt M a r y ? " T h e gramrnatic:il concept ol' a clircct objcct is acquired by one w h o can answer any such question. T h e co~.i.cct answer to such n q ~ ~ c s t - i gives (in olclcr ~ ~ s ; l go r) itself is (it1 11io1.c~.cc.ctltt~s,l!:c) or c the direct object. N o w suppose tliat someone wcre to ask: "What is co~nnlunic;itccl t o us by the phrase tliat \vc get in a correct answcr? Is the p h r ~ i s cbcing 11scii o r mentioned?" It is clear tli:?t nothing is settled a b o u t this question by n clioicc whether to say, lollowing cilclcr usage, tliat the plirasc gil~esthe dircct objcct or, i'ollowing more mocIcr11 usage, that "clil-cct objcct" is a name tor a scntcl1cc-l>nst. I propose-for a purposc which will appear-to adopt the older ~lsngc. Thcii the question " W h a t is the direct object o f the verb in this sentence?" is the sal-nc a s "What does the sentence :.ay J o h n sent M a r y ? " ;111cl the question " W h a t clocs thc phrase which is the ariswer to that q u e s t i o t ~ o m ~ i ~ u ~ ~ i o a t e i.c. is it being i~sctl c t c us, or ~iientioned?" can bc aslced in thc forru "Is the direct objcct a hit of Ianguusc o r rather w h a t the bit of l a ~ i j i i ~ a g e statlds for?"--and this is n o w not a mere question of terminology, but a slibsta~ltive-seeti~i~ig question of curious perplexity. For someone pondering it may argue as follows: It won't d o t o say that in this cxamplc a boolc is tlic clircct ol)jcct. I:or i f we say that we can bc asltccl: "Wllich bool<?"; but the sentence isn't being considered as true, and thcrc is no answer to the cji~cstion "Which book?" except " N o book"; ancl yet without d o u b t the verb has a tli~cct ohject, given by tlie answcr "A b o o l ~ "So it must be wrojzg, and not just a ni:~ttcr of terminology, to say that the g r a ~ n ~ n a t i c phrase "direct object" stands for, 11ot al a bit of language, I ~ u rather w h a t the bit of language stands for. And, if intentional t objects are a sub-class of direct ohjects, the j>lil-asc "intentiolial object" too will stand for a bit of lang~lagerather than w h a t the language stands for; we arc cvide~itlyriot going to have to plunge into tlic I,og made by tlic fact that in tlie most i ~ l i p o s t a ~a n d stsaiglitlor\.\:;iscl sense the pllrasc giving the intcntiorinl ol3jccr Inay it stand for nothing. which is the intcntionnl 13ut wait-in that case f~lrrstw e not say, " t l ~ c rat]icr than "the p l ~ r a s c giving tile iritc11tion:ll ol,jcct"? This is indccci 3 diTficulty. For the intentional object is told in answer 1-0 a cl~rcstion" W h a t ? " Bur the

,

answer t o " W h a t d o they worship?" cannot be that they worship a phrase any more than tliat they worship a n idea. A similar point holds, of coursc, for direct (and indirect) objects in general. It may be argued that this is n o a r g u ~ ~ l e n tPerhaps w e cannot say "What John .2 is said to have scnt is 21 phrasc." But then n o inore can we say "What Jolin is said t o have sent is a direct object"--for tlic sentence did not say J o h n sent M a r y a ciircct object. W h a t this shows is that there is a w a y of taking "The ciirect object is not a direct objcct" which iilaltes this true; namely, by assimilatillg this sentence to "The dircct object is 11ot 1 girl." ( O n e coilld imagine cxplai~ringto a cliiltl: "Tllc g i ~ - l isn't tlic 1 dircct object, but the book that J o l i n sent.") Frcgc's c o ~ ~ c l u s i o"Thc concept 1101-scis not a conccj>t" was l>asccl on tlic saliic n sort of troublc a b o u t different uscs of c x p r e s s i o ~ ~ W h a t "cheval" stancls for is n s. conccpt, ancl wliar "cbcual" stands for is a Ilorsc; these prcmisses d o not, however, yield tlic result that i f Buccphalus is a I ~ o r s c is a concept. Sin~ilarly, h a t J o h n is hc w said t o have sent Mary is a book, a n d w h a t J o h n is saicl to have scnt M a r y is a tlirect object; these prcillisses d o n o t yield tlie result that if J o h n gave M a r y a book, he gave her a tlirect object. Frege cvcntually proposed to dcal with the trouble by stipulating that such a plirase as " W h a t 'cheval' stands for" should oitly be used predicatively. i parallel ' i stipulation in o u r case: " W h a t John is said to have sent M a r y is . . ." may ollly be coiupleted with such cxpressiovls as could fill the blank in "John sent Mary. . . ." T h e stipulatioil, while harmless, woulrl be based o n f a i l ~ ~ of ear for the clift'crre ent use of thc phrase " W h a t John is saicf to have sent M a r y " in tlie explanatior~ " W h a t J o h n is saicl t o have sent M a r y is the direct object of the sentence." But a n car for a differclit use cannot bc dispc~isedwith, a s the further coursc of thc argument shows. T h e argulncnt bcgan with stating reasons why a clircct object can't be somctliing that the direct-object phrase stancls for. Yet one can, one correctly docs, sap "A book" in answer to the qucstiori "Wlzat does the sentence 'John sent M a r y a booli' say JoI1i-r sent- Mary?" which asks the same thing as "What is the dircct ol>jcct in that s c ~ ~ t c n c c ? " Ncvcl-tliclcss thc way the p 1 i 1 . a ~ ~ 11ook" is being ~isetl such that ''a is one can't sensibly ask "Which hook?" Wc niust cctllcl~~clc "ol~jects" (tlirect, iliciivect a n d likewise intentional) that tlie of object is neither the plirase 11or w h a t the phrase stancis foc W h a t then is it? The

qucstioil is based o n a mistake, ~lalllely that a n cxplailatory answer running say "i )n intentional (dircct, indirect) object is such-and-such" is possible and rcquisitc. Rut this need not be so. Indeed rile o ~ i l y reasonable candidates t o be answcrs are tlic ones w e have failed. Rut whnt is the actual use o f the tcrm? Given n sentence i l l which a verb takes a n obicct, one proceclure for replying to the question: "What is the object in this sente~ice?" t o recite the objcct phrase. is If putting the object phrase in quotes inlplies tliat tlie object-i.e. what Joh11 is said t o have scnt Mary, w h a t the Greelts worshipped-is a piece of language, that is wrong; if its not being in quotes iiilplies that something rclerred t o by the objcct phrasc is the objcct, tliat is wrong too. T o avoicl the Inttcr st~ggcstiono n c nligli~ insist o n putting in quotes; tci avoicl the forlner o n c lnight w a n t t o leave them oilt. O n e is inclincd to invcnr i spccial sort of c l ~ ~ o t ch11t tlic clucstion is h o w thc plirnsc s; within such new quotes wo~ilclfunction-ancl il wc ~ ~ n c l c r s t a ~ ~ d w e don't ncccl that, a new sign. So elids the argument. To repcat, I aln not opposing the practicc of grammarians a~icllinguists for whnni the expression "direct object" is defined as a n expression for a plirasc; they usc tlint as I use the expression :'dirc.ir-object plirase." But, as I have arguecl, thc qucstioii "Whar does the sentelice say Jolill gave?" is fundalnentnl for ~ ~ l ~ c l c r s t a n c leirlicr il~g "direct objcct" o r "direct-object phrasc" as I a m using those cxprcssions; and he~icc for ~ ~ ~ l d e r s t a n d"ciirecr object" w l i e l ~ is used for a phrase. And though the cluesi~ig it tion is answered (like many qiiestions) by uttering a phrase-in this case "a booknthe phrase has a special rise in answer t o that questioxi " W h a t does the scntence say J o h n gave?" I t can name neither a piece of language, n o r anything that thc piccc of lang~lagenames o r otherwise relates to, nor inctcecl anything else. T h e interest ol the questioil and answer is tlic rather special interest of getting grallimatical unclcrstandi~ig.Grammatical understanding a n d g r a r n ~ l ~ a t i c a l concepts, evcn the most familiar ones like sentence, x r b , noun, are not s o straightforward ai~clciown-toearth a matter of plain physical realities as I believe pcople sometimes suppose. T h e c011cej1t of a noun, for example, is far less of a physical conccpt than that of a coin; for someone might be traineci to recognize coins with fair success tliougl~he Icncw nothing of money, but no onit coulcl I)c traincd t o i.ccoj;nize Ilorlns \vitlio\~t;igrc;\t familiarity \vitJi langungc; ancl yct tllc conccpt of n notti1 is not one wl~icllIic \ \ ) i l l a u t o ~ i ~ a t i c a l have througli (li;it fa~niliarity, lie will havc that o l a coil1 if l ~ oj7cr.ly as c ates with coined moncy. hdcccl tlie explanations of granlmatical tcrlns 2rc only hints a t w h a t is really grasped from examples. TIILISo one should thi~ilcthat by merely n

:

a t l o l x i ~ ~ g usage o i inoclcrn glammai.ialis, for who111 tile direct ollicct is a ivorcl tlic o r worcls, Iie lias avoideel llaiicllil~gclifficult concepts ai;tt reru;li~lcd in a plain iilaii's worlcl of plaiil thillg. "Tlie c l ~ t c object is wliar John sent'' (= "wirat the sentence iayr jo1111 r c ~ i t " ) . i~ v F h e ~ ew o seiltences arc pamllel. It is for tlie srLe of l ~ a r a l l e l i s ~ ~ i rve optcii t tliat for thc olci fashiollccl Llsagc of "cli~.cctol~jcct."For cvc11 in that Ltsagc, n o olie will be tenipteci t o t11i11k that tliucct ohjects as such arc a special ty!>c clf entity, J u s t this t c i i ~ p t a t i c )exists very strongly for objccts of t h o ~ ~ g laiiti scnsatiui~;~ l l a tis, ~~ it for intentional objects, which appear as entities uncler the names "idea" a ~ ~ d , ~mprcssion." It may I)e ol~jecteci:the context "The sentence says John sent Mary - . ,, 1S itself i~lrcntio~~:ll. then, can lily considerations a b o u t tlirecr objects throw light I-Iow, o n intcntional ohjects? 12\lllyspcllcd o u t they arc thcmselvcs merely examples of scntcnccs whose objects arc intentional objects.' T h e answer is tll:it what is said i l l the o l > j c c t i o is~trtle. 13~1t ~ thcsc cxa~n~,les, \ ~ l l e ~ - c ~ wc talk a b o u t tlirccc objects, arc I~arinlessancl profitable because certain so1.t~of suggestion : ~ l ) o t ~ t clircct ol>jccts arc patcut nonsense. For cxaml,lc no olle would tllil~b that if a seiltcoce says Joliii sent M a r y a book, w h a t it immediately and directly says he scnt Ilcr w a s a direct objcct, a l ~ d only in some illdirect fashion, via this inlmeiliare object. cloes it say lie sent her a buol<. I want, that is. to use s comparisoii y i t h patent nonsense a b o ~ i t clircct objects in orcler t o exllose as l a t e ~ nonsense of ~t just the same I<i~ld some very persuasive views a b o u t iclcas ancl impl-cssion. N o t that icicns allti ilnprcssions are t o be cxcluclecl from considcration; but as thcy enter into cpisternology they will be rightly regardcil as grammatical notions, whose role is readily ~ n i s u ~ i d c r s t o o d . "grammatical" is here being used in its o r d i ~ l a r y Aiicl scnsc. We must n o w ask: does any plirase that gives the direct object of a n intcntional vcrb in a sentence nccessal.ily give all ir~ter~tional ohject? N o . Consider: "Tllese people worsllip Ombola; that is t o say, they worship a n-iere h u n k of wood." (cf. "They worship sticks and stoilcs.") O r ''They worsliip the sun, that is, tbey worsilip w h a t is ~lothjligbut a great inass of frightlully hot s t ~ ~ f f T"h e w o l - ~ h i ~ ~tllcm. ~crs selves will not ackiiowlcdge tile descriptio~ls. Tileis idol is for them a clivinizeci piece of w o o d , one that is ~ ~ l l l also a god; and sii~iiiarlyfor the surl. ~ h ~ w
I'

1

i

An intentional object is given 1,y a w o r d

(11phrase

which gives

:I

descriptiotr ~rirrler.

j wlyich.

It will help if w e consider shooting at, aiming. A man aims a t a stag; but the tIii17j: he tool< for a stag was his fa!lier, a n d he shoots liis father. A wit~icssreports: "I-ic a i ~ i ~ e a t his father." N o w t1-11:;is a ~ i i b i g ~ ~I o ~ ~ s s c ~ i s c wllicll give11 the situ,icl n the . in tion as w e have describeci it, this report is true, tllc pllrase "his father" cloes 11!1t give all intcntional objcct. Let iis introduce the term "material ol,jcctn: "liis fathci-" gives, w e sliall say, the inntci.iizl object of the verb in tlic sentence "I-Ie aimed a t his father" in tile sense in which this w a s trrle. N o t because hc hit I ~ i s father-he might after all luerely have gonc w i c l e of the ~liarlt.But \xcause the thing he tool< f o l . a stag actnally w a s his father. \TIC can asli w h a t he was cloing-what he w a s ai~nii~!: at-in that he was aiming a t a stag: this is to ask for another tiescription "X" stich that in "IHc was aiming a t X" w e still have a n intcntional ol~jcct,hut the clcsc1-il7tion " X " gives us something cliat exists in the situation. For example, he w a s aimiiig a t tliat dark p t c h against thc i'oliagc. T h e dark patch against tlic foliage w a s in fact his father's h a t with his fathcr's head in it. Thus, the given intention:il object (tlie stag) being nonexistent in the situation, w e looltcd for another intenrioiial objcct until w e founcf o n c 1i1;lt c \ i ( \ c s i s ~ I'licn . the phrase giving that intcnr-ionfllobject, nncl arly o~licr. r ~ clcscriptio~~ 1 1 1 ~ .exist ~c oi tent t h i t ~ gin q~lestion,gives the ,itntcrial objcct o i "I-Ic ;~ilnccl . . ." at. Iloes this account ctepcnd on the report's being true? N o ; but i f the witness l ~ c s o r is q ~ ~ iniistalien, all the s,inle hc call be q~~cstionccl o u t w h a t his rcport meailt. tc ab Does hc mearz the phrase "his father" to give the intentional, o r only tllc material; object? If only the ~ n a t e r i a l ol~jcct, h a t does hc lncar~by "I-lc :limed at . . . " ? ' T l l ~ t w yo11 COLIICI see that tlie Inan \vas taltiug aim, ancl wlicrc his targct lay? T1-icr.c migilt not be t r ~ i c answers to tllcse i j ~ ~ c s t i o nh t, ~ the witness h:~sgoc to 171-etcndtl1cl.c :11-c s t o r be confoiil~decl. Ancl now, for greater ease of expression, I will speali, as is natural, of the IIicitcrial and il~telitioi~al object:; of aiming, of worshipping, of thilil<ing. 7'his slioulcl always I,e interprctahlc in tei.i~isof the vcrhs ar~clthcir objects. There l ~ e c d be a m;ltcl.inI objcct (]I aiming. If a rnan wcrc totally I~allucinatcil, not a n d , sliooting a t s o n ~ e t h i l ~ g his h a l l u c i ~ ~ a t o scene, hit his Iathcl; thlit w o ~ i l d11ot i~i ry make his father the ~ ~ l u t e r i n i objcct o f liis a i l i ~ i ~ i Similarly, if tl1cl.c is n o tlcscrii>g. tion, still giving the inte~ition:iIobjcct of worship, which cicscrii>cs allything a c t ~ i ~ ~ l , the worshippers, rnatcrially s,ic;ll<itlg, worship a nothing, so~llethirtgt h a t clocs 11ot exist. N o t that it ivill thcii tio I ( , say "Tlicy worship nothing," h u t only: "Wllat thcy \vorshil~is ~ l o t i ~ i n g .For '"I'iiey worship ~iothing" woultl imply t h a t 110 scntcllic "

Ihe)! wo~.sllip sr~cli-;inti-sucl~" will be tl.i~e;a114 is1 chc case sr~pposedsome silch 1 sentence is true.
1

'',

j

Q ~ ~ c s t i oa~ lo u t thc identity of an intentional object, when this cannot be reci~lcetl bs I to the identity of n lllntcvinl object, arc obviously of solile interest. H o w clo we ; dcciclc that t w o peol>lc 01. ~>coples worshil7 o r clo not worship tile same g o ~ 1 ? /\gain, I i when a proper name is ol>scure ancl remote in its historical ~.clcl-cncc, like "Al-tll~lr," / t h e qlrcstion may arise whetlicr t w o people arc tllil~ltingof: the same man-if tiley

i have dificrcnt, incompatihlc, pictures of
!
i

hi~ii. But I perceive that my saying "when this cannot be reduced to tile identity of a

1 u~o~cviill ol>jcctn]nay mislead: fclr by rr~nlerinlo[>jccts I clo not n-rean what asc now ! called "material ol?jccts"-tables, planets, I~umps butter ancl s o on. 'To give a clear of ! . installce: a clcbt of five clollars is not a matcrial objcct in t l ~ i slatter sense; hut givcri I that someone hacl contractecl such a debt, 111y t h o u p l ~ t"tllat dcht of five dollars"

I Iwoultl linvc as its niatel-ial object something dcscrihecl a n d inclicatcd by the phrase
I '

,grving tlie intentional ol>ject of my thought. W h e ~ iit is I~eyondcluestion that tlie ~ p h r n s cgiving a11 intentional objcct does describe a n d indicate a matcrial object i i i 'this scnsc, tile11 the qocstioil 2s to rile idc~itityof tlie iotcntional objcct redoces to 1 I question as to tlic iclentity o f the matcrial object. Arc we referring to the same jdckt? T h a t is, ~ ~ c r h a pnot t o o cliffic~lltto establish. But when either there is no real s, debt or it is very obsci~l.ewhether tlicre is, the case is altcrcti. I lie fact t l ~ a rwe can ~ ~ the cconcept of identity i l l co~lncctionwith intentional s I iubjccts slioulci not lent1 11s to tilink there is ally sense in qr~cstions to the kind ol. as I ~ c s i s t c ~ ~ c c - t honrological status-of i11tcntion;ll objccts a s such. /Ill s l ~ c h c clucstiotis arc nonsensical. Once 111ol-cwe can clear o ~ Iic;tds I>y thinlting of direcr ol>jccrs. ~ r j'rlic answcr t o ''What is the clircct objcct in 'John scnt Mal-y a I ~ o o k ' ? "is "i\ book." !This is the right answer as r n ~ ~ cwhen the s e ~ l t c ~ l c c false as whcn it is true, ~incl li is also whcn it is only nlaclc up, 3s it is i l l this c;ise, to illustrate a point. It is cviclent ,~ionsensc ask al>outtlic no tic of existence o r o ~ ~ t o l o g i cstatus of tlie clirect object to al a s such: o r t o aslz w h a t lzincl of thiiig LI boo/< is, as it is thought of in answer t o tlie :cluestion a l ~ o u tthe direct ol~jcct.

/tile

I

_

In the philosophy of sense-j~crccptionthcrc are t w o opposing positions. O n e says that what w e arc immediately a w a r e of in sensation is sense-imprcssio~is,callecl
"iclcas" by IScrlielcy ancl "scnsc-clata" l ~ y I<iisscll. T h e otlicl; taltcn i ~ ~ l o w a d a y s p Ily

"ortlinary l a n g ~ ~ a g e " philosopl~y, says tliat 011 thc contrary wc a t ally r : ~ scc ol>jccts ~c (in the iciide n l o d c r ~ isense whicll w o ~ l l dinclutle, c.g, shadows) without any sucll intermediaries. It is usually part of this positioil t o insist that I can't scc (or, feel, heal; taste o r smell) somct!iiilg that is ~ i o licrc, any more t h a ~ I can liit somct i thing that is not there: I ciln only tl~ilzkI see (ctc.) something i l it isn't there, o r oilly ill s o ~ n e extcnclecl usage of "scc" d o 1 scc wll;~t isn't there. I shall say most a b o ~ i t seeing, as most people d o in tiiscussing this topic. T'lie other vcr11s arc for goocl reasons (which aren't very relevilnt to 11ly topic) often treated rathcr tliffercntly, espccially by orcli~larylar~guage philosophy. I wish to say that both these positio~lsarc wrong; tliat both nlisuncierstancl v e r l ~ s of sense-perception, because th,:sc verbs are inte~ltionalo r essentially I ~ a v c isitenan tional aspect. Tile first position ~ ~ i i s c o n s t r u e s i~itentionalobjects as matcrial objccts of sensation; tile other allows only 17zater.inl objects of sensation; o r a t any ratc docs not allow for a description of w h a t is seen which is c.g. neutral as betwccsl its being a real spot ( a stain) o r an aftel--image, giving only the content of a n expcrie~iccof seeing concerning which o n e docs not yct k n o w whether one is seeing a real spot o r an after-image." To see the intentionality of s e ~ r s a t i o ~ l is only necessary to look a t a few cxnmit ples which bring it out.

( I ) " W h e ~ iyo11 screw from it."

L

I

your eyes Ioolzing at a light, you scc rays shooting out ~
III~ eyes?"

(2) "I scc the print very 1)lurrcc.i: is it blurrccl, o r is it

(3) "Move these handles until yoti see the bird in tlie i ~ c s t . "(Squint-testing apparatus; thc hiril ancl thc liest arc o n scparatc cnrcls.)

(4) "I scc six buttons on tliat 1n21n'scoat, I mercly see a lot of s n o w flakes framccl by this window-frame-no defiiiite n ~ ~ ~ n h c r . "
(5) ". . . a mirage. An approacliing pedestrian may have n o fcet (they arc replaced by a bit of sky).'"

(6) "With this hearing aid, w1:cn y o ~ ltalk I heal some screeching noises; n o low tolies and the consonants arc ucsy indistinct."

(7) "I hear a ringing in m y ears."
(8) "I heard a trcmcndous roal-ing noise outsiile, and wondercd with alarm for a moment what great machine or floodwater could be malting it. And then I rcalizccl that it was only my little d o g sr~oriug close a t hai~cl.""

1

(9) "Do you I<now Izow a taste call sonletlmes be qulte ~ndeternlrnateunt11 you k n o w what you are e a t ~ n g ? "
(10) "I keep o n smelling tllc a~ilellof h ~ ~ r n ~ n g wben, as I fii~ilout, rhere 1s ilibber n o such t h ~ n g . "

Someonc w h o wislies to say that the verbs of sense are used right in normal cases otzly with real things as objects, and even with real things correctly characterizeti, lnay say that these arc exceptional uses. Either the context (eye-testing apparatns) o r what is saicl, with thc tone of voice and special cmphasis appropriate to it, siiows this. There w a s p r c s ~ ~ m a b a ytlcfinite nunlbcr of snowflal<cs falling s o as to he seen l from a certain position, a n d that w a s the number seen; only the subject did not ltnow liow m a n y tlierc were, was n o t able to tell by looking as he could tell the number of buttons o n the coat. Me expressed this by saying he did not see a definite number of snowflaltes; but this is a n ocid LISC of "see," cliffererit from the more normal use w e gct in the following example:
( I 1) "I saw somcone 111 the study lust now." "Nonsense! You can't have, because there isn't anyone thcre." "Well, I wonder w h a t I saw, then."

N o w this may hc; o n the other h a n d the oculist testing the degree of a squint docs not have t o teach a new usc of "see" o r of "I see a (picture of a ) bird in a nest" before he can ask " D o you see the bircl in the nest?"-the bird-picture and the n e s t - p i c t ~ ~ being in fact spatially separated. To call such a use "new" simply means rc that s o ~ l i c difference bctwcen it a n d w h a t is being called the old use strikes ~ r s as iml)or.tfint. 'These is intleed a n important difference; though it is wrong to regard the uscs which it marks as, s o t o speak, rlcvia~zt,for o u r concepts of sensation are built u p by our having all tliese uses. T h e difference w e are attending to is that in these cases, object phrases arc ~rsedgiving objt:cts which are, wholly o r in part, merely illtentional. This corlles o u t in t w o features: neither possible non-existence (in the situation), nor i~zcleterlninacy,of the object is any objection to the truth of w h a t is said. N o w "ordinary l a n g ~ ~ a g e " vicws and "sense-daturn" views m a k e the same niistalte, that of failing to recognize the intentionality of se~lsation,though they take opposite positions in conscqucnce. This failure comes o u t clearly o n the part of a n ordi~lary-languagep11ilosophe1-if: he insists that w h a t I say I see must really hc there if I aln not lying, rnistaltcn, o r ~ ~ s i l i g language in a "quecr," extendeel (and therefore discountable) way. maltes the same mistake in his insistence T h e Bcrl<eleyan sense-datum that, c,g., one sccs visual i~llprcssions,visual data. I w o ~ ~ say that sucli a pl~ilosold

pher maltes a n incorrect inference from the truth of the grammatical statement that tlie intentional object, the imp~:ession,the visual object, is w h a t you see. I-Ie takes the expression "what yo11 sec" materially. "Thc v i s ~ ~ i~iipressionis w h a t y o u sec," al which is a p~.opositionlike " T l ~ e dil-cct object is w h a t hc sent," is ~iiisconstrueclso as to lead to "You sce a n i~iipression," as the other ncvcr would be rnisconstrl~ctl so as to lead t o "I-Ie sent her a direct object." This is a rliore interesting and permanently tempting mistakc t l ~ a nthe o t i ~ c ~ . , whose appeal is merely that of a comlnon-sense revolt against a Bcrltelcyan type of view, B L Iboth doctrines havc a great deal of p o i n t . To calic rhc "orcIin;lsy l a ~ i g l ~ a g ~ " ~ doctri~ie: Firsi, w h a t I shall call the material use o l verbs of scnsc exists. T h e material ~ i s c of "see" is a use which demai-icis a ~rzaterial object of the verb. "You can't havc secn a unicorn, u ~ ~ i c o r n s don't exist." L ' Y ocan't have seen a lion, there wasn't any lion. ~~ there to see." These uscs arc quite commonplace. It is not ~ n e r c l ythat the ohjcctphrase is taken materially---IS w e have seen, that may be the case with all intcntional verb without reflectills on its intentionality. Here the vcrh " t o sec" is not allowed t o t a l e a t ~ ~ ~ r e l j l i~ltciltionalobject; non-existence of thc object (absolutely, o r in the situation) is a n objection to the trutll of the sentence. We see tlie doublc use of the verb "see" hy coi~trastingit wit11 "worship." No one wo~ilclcvcr s;ly: "They cannot have worshippecl unicorns, because thcrc are n o sucli things." Second, the words giving the object of a verb of sense arc ~ ~ e c c s s a r i most oftcil ly intended as giving 17iaterial i)l~jects sense: for this is their prirnn~.)lalll?lic;~ric~rl. of To see this, co~isidcrthc follo\\ii~lg. Suppose 11 I,rigllt red ~>l;~stic clcl,li;irl~ looks coy greyish-brown to me in a cest;ii~l light. Only if I clo not ltnow tliut the j;rcyish-bro\vn colour is merc appcaraucc tlo I say without ally special context (c.g. that of cicscribitlg impressions), o r apology, o r Iiurnour: " I see a greyish-brown plastic toy elephant." This is because:. we undcrstancl the clescril>tion-ol-a~~-;~pl~car.nncc "greyish-brown" by understailding the description "greyisll-bro\vnn: this dcscrii~cs \vhat the a1,pearance is of. To d o that, it I I I L I S ~in the first i~istancebc a tlcscsiption of such a thing as it woulcl bc true of (for t l ~ c appearance is an appcarance of that)really, and not merely in aplwara~icc: this will he its primary application. But, being a description of a sensible property, it must also i r i its primary application cntcr into the object phrases for tlie appropriate verbs of scnsc, since w e get t o k n o w sensi1)Ic properties by the appropriate: senses. Fi~rther,w e ought to say, not: "Being red is loolting red in normal light to tlte normal-sigllted," b ~ l t rather .'Looking scd is looking as a thing that is red loolts in normal light to the normal-sighted." For if we ought rathcr to say the first, tlicn

how d o we uncierstand "loolting red"? N o t by understa~lcli~ig "red" and "looking." It would have to be explained as a simple idea; and so would looking any other colouc It may be repliecl: Tllcse all are simple ideas; "loolting yellow" and "looking recl" are the right expressions for what you show someone when you sho\v hi111 yellow and red, for he will only learn anci "~:cd"from the examples if they 1001< yellow ancl look rctl; so it is loo1:ing-jlcllo~u ant1 lool~itzg-rccl that he really gets holtl of allcl has Occn i ~ ~ t r - o d ~to, e ~ l t l l o ~ ~ gYOLI SCIY y o ~ lare explaining ~ c eve11 h "yellow" ancl "recl." This woulcl come to saying that in strictllcss " l o o k i ~ ~ gshould " be part of every colour worcl ill rcports of perception: it will the11 cease to pcrform the actual functio~l tlie worcl "loolting." It was plausible to say: O11ly if it loolts of reti to hi111will he Icarn what is 11ica11t;but wrong to infer: What he then grasps as the correlate of tlic word "red" is a rccl look. Even granted that hc Itnows lie is to learn the name of a coloul; still it invites ~i~is~~tlclerstaliciillg to rely on sometliing that only looks red to teach hini tlie word; if lie notices that it only loolts recl, liow l i a t ~ ~ u for him to suppose that "red" was the name of the colour that it actually al is. If you tell him: "It's tlie c o l o ~ ~ r this 'loolts,'" this presupposes that "looks that C" ancl "C" are originally, anci not just subsequently, distinct: that, in short, "being red" is not after all to he explained as a certain Ioolti~lg-red. Again, things do not always loolc the same shape, colour, size and so on, hut we com~iionly look at and tlcscribe thcm, saying, e.g., "It's rectangulal-, black and about six foot in height," without paying attention to how they look-indeed we might say that often things look to us, strike us, not as they look but as they are! (Cotiviction that 0111j1 so is "loolts" used riglitly was the cause of confusion to an ovcrconfident ordinary-langt~agc pl~ilosophcr an occasiorl famous i l l Oxforcl: I. Ciofli on ; brought in a glass vessel of water with a stick in it. "Do ~ O L mean to say," he aslted, I "that this stick docs not look be~lr?" "No," said the other bravely: "It loolts like a straight stick in watcs." So Cioffi took it out and it ~uirsbent.) So m ~ ~ cat lleast there is to bc saicl on the side of the "ordinary-larigu~~ge" l philosophc1: But, tnr~lingto the sense-ilnj~rcssio~~ philosophy, how much it poi~itso ~ and t ~ can investigate which often gets querulously dis~liisseclby the other side! Tliere is such a tliing as simply rlcscribing impressions, simply describing the sensil3le appearances that present thcnlsclves to one situated tlius ancl thus-or- to t~~yself. Seconrl, tlie sense-i~llprcssio~l pliiloso~~hy be right in its way of taking tlie will I'latonic dictl~m:"I-Ie who sees must scc something." Plato co~-riparecl this to "I fc who thinlts must tliinlt so~nething,"and has sometimes been criticized on the ground that "seeing" is a relation of a subject to an object in the nod ern sense of that last

1

I

word, wliile thi~ikingis diilerent: that such-anel-such is the case isn't a thing. i\ut "I-Ie who sees must see something" is being wro~iglyralten if taken as meanii~g: "Whenever anyone can rigl~tiybe saicl to see, there must be something there, which is wliat he sees." Taken in that sense, it is not true; to say it is ~ S L I Cis to Icgislilte against all except the material use of "see." The sense in which it is true is that if somcone is seeing, these is some conccnt of his vis11al cxpcricncc. I I Ilc saps hc can see ("can see" is English iclion~for "is sccing") we can aslc him "What can you scc?" I-Ie may say "I tlon'r it no\\^." l'erhaps that mealis that he doesn't know what the material object of his seei~ig perhaps simply that he is at a loss to make out lO/lOt is; what he (in any sense) sees looks like. Rut then we can say: well, at any rnte, dcsc~.i\)c what colours, wliat variation of light ancl clarlt you see. He may say: "It's fri~:litfully difficult, it all cliangcs so fast, so many colours shifting all tlic time, I c;lii't describe it, it doesn't stay long enoughn-and that's a description. Rut he car>~iot say: "how do you i-neali, what I see? I o~ily said I could see, I didn't say I could scc something-there's 1-10 need of a 'tuhat' that I see." That woulcl be unintclligiblc. This brings out the tliirtl point in favour of the sense-impressio~lphilosoi~Ii)r, which offers it sollie support even in its strict Bcrkeleyan form. The m i ~ l i ~ l ~ u r n descriptioli that must l e possible if someone can see, will he of colours with their variations of light ant1 darkness. One cannot say "Coloul; light and dark? N o q~lcstion of any such things," irr response to a j1rese71t enquiry about what one sees. That is to say, it is so wiih us. Perhaps we coulcl imagine people whose Iangunge has no colour vocabulary, though they are sighted, i.e. they use eyes and need light to get about s ~ ~ c c e s s f ~ ~ l l y'4 man of such a people, taught to read by sight, le~irrls etc. , names of letters, could r.eail o ~ wortls which were black on white, but coulcl not ~ t unclerstand the worcls "black" ancl "wllite." We'cl say we clo not know "ho\\~he tells" the vvords, tlie sliapcs. But is that to say anything but that for us appeal to colo~lrs used in an accou~il- how we tcll sliapcs? Whcrcas is of for Iiim tlicre is in this sense no such thiiig as a " l ~ o w tells"-any more than there is for us he with the colours t l ~ e m s e l ~ ~We. don't ask for- a "how we tell" it's red, as we ask es for a "hom~ tell" it's the ivord "recl" and accept as part of the answer "by sccirlg we these sl~apes,i.e. colour p~itchesof tllcsc shapes". We may wontlcr "How coultl there be such recognitio~~ n thing lilte the pattern of a worcl-rrr~t~~cdiaterl of rccognition? I-Tow could it huc bc irlediatcd by perception of colour?" (One of the origins of the notion of simple ideas, clemcnts.) But although i n this case we have an account of the perception of the pattern as mcdiatcd by the j,crccption of colour, thinl; of our recognition of hu~l-ran cspressions. We feel that this is the kitzd of thing to be

L -

- - -

70

(I.

I.,

kl / l ~ r s ~ o i ~ r l ~ ~ ~

mediated, but fail in o u r attempts t o describe tlie elements and their arrangelllents, secing which we recognize a c h e e r f ~ o rl ironical expression. But, one niay say, opti~ cally speaking he must 11e being affected by light of the wavelengths helonging to tlie cliffcrent colours. Yes-but cloes t11:lt s h o w that, s o to speak, thc content of a colour c o ~ i c c p tis 17us11cclinto him, s o that all he has to d o is litter it in a name, whose use he will later malte to fit with other people's in its range of application? I believe this is thought. (cf. Quine a b o u t "square" a n d each man's retinal projcct1o11 of a ~~~~~~~e rile.)' I ; o r m ~ ~ l a t e d , loses its plausil~ility.For one thing, the optical this process cloes 11ot cxhibit anything to the mall in who111 it takes place. For ;lnother, no concept is si~iiply given; every one involves a complicated t e c l i n i q ~ ~ c applicaof tion o the w o r d for it, which c o ~ ~ l 11ot ~ ~ 1ljc t prcscntccl by a n cxllericncc-content. C cl s The fact that thcrc is 110 " h o w w e tell" a b o u t colo~11--recognition does not mean that training in practices-most striltingly the practices co~nprisingthat tecliniq~ieof app1ic;ition-is n o t as necessary for tllc acquisition of colour concepts as those of substances o r squ,i.e roots. l Pursuant to this false conception of the primitively given, Berkeley-and Russellthouglit that all else in descriptiorl of the seen, all besides the arrarlgemetlt of colour patches in tlie visllal field, w a s inference ancl construction. This is not acceptable. There are impressions of clistancc and size, f o r example, independent of assumptions a120~1t w1i;it a thing is. O n e may be utterly perplexed w h a t a thing is just because o n e is sccing it ns a t a different distance from the right one, ancl hence as the wrong sizc. O r vice versa. I once opened 111y eyes and s a w the blaclt striking SIII-fncc of il latchbo box wliicll was stiinding o n one cnd; thc otlicr sicles of the Imx wcre not visible. This w a s a few inches from my eye a n d I gazed a t it in astonish~nentwondering w h a t it could he. Aslted t o describe the i m p r e s s i o ~ ~ I remember it, I say: as "Something black a n d rectangular, o n end, some feet away, and some feet high." I took it for three o r lour lcct tlistant, ant1 it loolwd, if anytlling, like a thick post, but I I<new there could be n o such thing in niy beciroom. O r I have tal<et~ small a blaclt praycr book for a great family Biblc s o r t of v o l u ~ n c ,judging that it lay on a footrest solnc fcct away inste;lcl of a oea1.1~y Icdgc ticarer eye-level. These wcre not judge~ncntsof tlistancc bnsccl on itlentifications of things-the s~p17c)sitiorl wh;it of thing it might 11e was hascd o n a n i~nprcssion sizc which went with a false irnj>resof sion of dist311cc. Departing, then, from P,erlceley, w e can note that tiescriptions of visual i ~ n p r e s sions can l)e vet-y rich ancl various. Tlicre c a n Ile i~iipressionsof clcpth and clistancc

and relative positions a n d sizc; of Itinds of things and kinds of stuff ancl texture aiid even temperature; of facial esi~i-ession emotion and mood and thought and charand acter; of action and movemc.i-it (in tllc stntiotinry impression) and life and deatll. Even within the compass of rhe description "colours with their variations of liglit asid shade" there are diverse kinds of impression. It r e ~ n a i n st o sort out tlie ~ e i a t i o n s between thc intentional ancl material objects, of sensation; as I have clone most of the time, I will concentrate on seeing. While there must be a n inceutional object of seeing, these need n o t ; ~ l w a ) ~ s a I)c nlaterial object. T h a t is to sa), "Xs a w A" where "saw" is used ruaterially, iniplics some proposition "X s a w ---" where "saw" is ~ ~ s e intentionally; but thc concl verse docs not Iiojcl. Tliis Ici~clsto tllc Cocling chat rlic intentional use is so~iicllow prior to the material use. T h c feeling sccnls to r u n contrary to the rccognitioti, the feeling, that for descriptions of objects of sight the material ; ~ p l ~ l i c : ~ t iis n prior o the one. Both feelings are-legiti~ilatcly-satisfied by allowing tliat a n intentional objcct is necessarily involvecl in seeii~g, while granting that this docs not confcr c l ~ i s t c n ~ o logical priority on purely intentional sentences, which inclcccl, in a host of the most ordinary cases of reportetl sccing, are never f o r m ~ ~ l a t e or cotisiclcrcd. ct J o h n Austin, w h o opposed the view that there are t w o senses of "see" according as the seeing has to be veridical o r not, remarked casually that there were perhaps t w o senses of "o\,jeii- of sight." I think it w a s it1 this c o ~ l ~ l e c t i o n he that co~ltrastcd"Today I saw a m . ~ u born in Jerusalem" ancl "Today I saw a man shavctl in Oxford"-both said in O ~ l o r c l At a n y rate, o u c says, you clidn't see him born . today; perliaps you did see someone 11cing shaved. So the one clcscription, w l ~ i l c true of w h a t you saw, in a sL:ilsedocs not givc w h a t you saw. A clescription cvhisli is true of a material object L I the verb "to see," b ~ l t ~ which states something thnt absolutely 01- in tlie circumst-,111ces "you can't liave scelz," ncccssarily gives olzly a ~liatcrialohicct of sccing. I11 speaking of the nlatcrial object of aiming, I saicl tliat if a llian aimed a t that dark patch against the f o l i a ~ ~and that patch was his father's hat with his fathe~.'s c, head in it, thcn liis fathcr w ; ~ s 111i1tcrialolljcct of liis ai111;I)LI[ if' hc iiirtlctl ;it S O I I I C a patch in a totally hallucinatory sccnc, ancl hit his father, you coulti not s ; ~ y tllat. N o w if w e try t o al-rply this explanation to tlie case of sceing w e r u n into difiiculties which reflcct bacli 011 ~ l casc ol aiming. But in the casc consitlcrccl the n1;i~ c terial ohject of aiming was a~.~:uably n irz~eiitiotlnlobject of seeing. F o r w h a t clsca it might 11e asked-is a dark patch against the foliage?

This may seem to plurigc 11s into confusion. For surely w h a t is oirly a n intentional object of seeing can't be a ~ n a t e r i a lobject o f aiming? Then when cloes a dcscril>tioil givc a ntatcrial object of sight? O n e Itind of case w e have seen: when a tlescriptio~i is true of w h a t is seen, hut does u o t give a n intentional object. "I see a man \vhose great nnclc clicd in n lunatic asylum"-tl~e relative cla~isc gives an a l ~ s o l ~ r t c l y nonintcntional description. "I see a girl w h o has a ~ n o l e between her shoulder-bladesnin thc circumstntlccs it gives n non-intentional clcscriptiorl. For she is facing mc, ctc. "YOLIcan't have seen that," ~ I I Csays. But w h y ? If I can't see that, w h y c a n I see Professor Price's tomato? It has a backside that I don't see. M r TI~OIIIPSOI~ draws o u r attention t o the fact that Clarke a vicw o f a tomato ancl a half-toillato rnay bc exactly thc sainc. T h a t is so; but it is not liltc the fact that a vicw of soillcolle with a n d without a mole between his shouldel blaclcs may be exactly the same. If you look a t a tomato a n d take only a si11g1c vicw, you trztrst scc w h a t rltight be only a half tomato: that is w h a t seci~ig a tonlato is. Whereas there is a vicw of the mole; a n d 110 front view is a vicw of a mole I~etwecnthe slioulcler blacles. Suc11 a mole does n o t s t a m p thc front view as may approaching cleat11 o r a load o f troubles, and s o there is n o i~nprcssion itof just as tlicre is n o "born-in-Jerusalem" look a b o u t a man. I9it a ~ n a t c r i a lobject of seeing is not. ~leccssarilygiven by a description of w h a t is before lily eyes when they arc open ancl I arn seeing; if I a m totally hailucinated, the11 in n o scilse d o 1 see w h a t is before my eyes. T h u s it is essential to a material object of seeing that it is give11 by a descriptio~lwhich is true o f what is srcit; a n d w c havc to enquire into the sigrtificance here of this phrase " W h a t is seer^." T h e jxoblcm is this: there is a material object of cp-ing if there is a phrase giving a n intcntional object of p i n g which is also a description of w h a t exists in a suitable relatioli to tlte cp-el: N o w this can't be a description of w h a t exists merely by describing the intentional objcct of some other act (he aims a t tlie d a r k patch that ltc sees); i f simply describing a n ii~tcntional ol7jcct of p i n g will not-as of course it will not-guarantee that we have described a ~-natc~.ial object of cp-ing, then how can it givc a material o l ~ j c c tof some othcr vcrb, cp-ing? All wou1tl I)e plain sailing if' w e coulii say: w c have a material object of sight o n l y if soilrc i~ilcntional clcsci.iption is also true of w h a t rcally-physically-exists. And pcrllaps we can say that tlte clarlc patch agaiust the foliage is n o t merely a n i'i1tc.ntional objcct of secing; there really is n tlarlc object o r a region of cl a ).I cncss tlicrc. nllt this is not always the case when we scc. Suppose I havc clcfcctive sight: all I sce is a shiny blur over t11c1.c. T h a t blur, w e say, is my watch. We therefore say I

see my watch, thong11 very indistinctly; and I w a n t t o say that m y ~ v a r c his the tllaterial object o f seciog. But I iliay not be able t o see it as a watch; 311 I scc is a shiny blur. But the desct-iption "a shiny blur" is not true of anything that physically exists in the contcxt. S~ipj?osing father had a d a r k h a t on, it would follow that, the to mention the puzzle that perplexed M o o r e for s o long, the ciarlc parch against t i ~ c foliage w a s p n ~ of the swtfclce o f a rnnlerinl object (1nodert7 seitse); b ~ i certainly "a i t blur" is n o part of tlie sucfnce of my watch. But it may bc I liavc n o othcr clcscription of w h a t I see than "a shiny blur over there." So is there ally intentional description which, is also a clescriptioll of a material object of sight? Yes; for even if lliy watch is nor a blur, it is a shiny thing ancl it is over tiicrc. Suppose I had said: I scc a roughly triangular red blur herc, anel soui+ic c;tusal connection via tlie visual centres in the brain could havc been cliscovcrcti l~ctwccilthnt and thc presence of my \v:-itclt over t h c r ~ - w o ~ ~ l (it ltavc I,cc~i ~.it;llt O say: '\Y/lint I I I a m seeing is nly wittcl~"?I bclicvc not. AII interesting case is that o f ntuscae riolitaiitcs, as thcy are callccl. You go to the doctor and you say: "I wonder if there is something wrong with nly eycs o r my brain? I seen-or perhaps you say "I see171 to seen-"floating specks bclorc nty eyes." The doctor say's: "That's not vcry scrious. They're there all sight" (or: "YOLI see them all right")--"the!, are j~istthe floating debris in the fluids of the eye. Yo11 are a bit tired ancl s o your \>raindoesn't knock them out, that's all." T h c things he says you see are not otit there wherc you say you see thcm-ihnt p a r t of your iiitcntional description is not tsue of anything I-elevant; but lie does not say that ~vltat you are seeing is that debris only because the dcbris is the cause. There rcally arc floating specks. If thcy caciscd you to scc a litrlc red clcvil or figlire o l eight, I\ should not say you s a w theill. It may be possible to thinl< of cascs where thew nothing in the intentio~lalobject that s~iggcstsa clcscription o l w h a t is materially being seen. I d o u b t w l ~ c t l ~ this could bc so except in cascs of vcry c o n f ~ ~ s c percs tl ception-how coulci a very clef-inite intcntioilal clcscription bc conncctccl with a clilitc different ~llaterialobject of secing? In such cascs, i f w e arc in d o u b t , we resort to moving tlie supposed matcsinl objcct t o scc if the blurred, not colour-true ant1 n-iisplaced image of it Inoves. W h e n you said: "I sce"--bclicving t1t:it the objects were quite illusory-yo11 interzdeci your clcscriptiol~\>\!rely as a n intentional one; you wcrc giving the wortis "floating speclcs" a scconc1;ii.y applic;ltion, It c;imc as a SLII.J>I.~SC to yoti t1i;it yo!^ would havc hacl the riglit to intcncl thc worcts materially. In thc well-known case of

I

he was able to describe w h a t he saw-a great pile of leaves o n his counterpane, again liave a seco~iciary application: the words which he knew n o t t o be there-we as "a pile of Icavcs" were intcr~clctlo ~ l l y a description of a n i~i>prcssion. It is important t o notice that very o f t c ~ there is n o answer to the question whether i peoplc intend the worcl "see" in its ~rzaterial use or not: that is, whether they are so have t o take it back supposir~g that w h a t they using the word "see" that they w o ~ i i d saicl rliey s a w w a s not there. T f they were mis-seeing something that was there, they would usually 'ivrint t o correct thernselvcs, finding o u t "wliat they really saw." But what if the seeing were hallucinatory? T h e question would be: supposing that turned o u t to be tlie case, would you claini that you mean "sce" in such a a w a y that all you have t c d o is alter your intentions ~ for tlie t l e s c r i p t i o ~of the object, from intellding it in its prittzary application as a description of the tt~rrtcricllobject of sight to illtending it in a sccoitclnry application as a description of ;I nlere itii/~ressioiz? Facecl with such a question, w e have in general the right t o reject it, saying like Tomniy Traclcllcs: But it isn't so, y o i ~know, s o we won't supposc it i f you don't mind. And cvcn i f we have n o t this right, we generally entcrrai~ino sucii supposition and therrfore are unpl.cpared with an answer. Wc neecl not have determinately nicant the worcl "see" onc way o r thc other. We may make a s i ~ n i l a r point a b o u t "pl-lantom limb." I take tile part of tlie body where pain is felt to be thc object of a transit.ive ver1,-like expression "to feel pain in ---." Then wlicn there is, e.g., n o foot, but X, not knowing this, says he fecls pain in his foot, he nlay say hc w a s wrong ("I did 1iot see a lion thcre, for t1ic1-e w a s n o lion") o r he may alter liis undersranding of tlie phrase "my foot" s o tllnt it becomcs a j,urely intentional object of the verb-like expression. I3ut it need not be deterlnillecl in advancc, in the normal case of feeling pain, whettlcl- one s o intends the cxpt-cssion "I fccl pain in -----" as to withdraw it, o r ~nerely alters one's intentions for the clescriprion of the place of the pain, if one should learn that the ~71acc was missi~ig.

Notes
1. Throughout this paper 1 use double quotes for ordinary quotations (and so singles for quotes within quotes) and si~~gles as scare c111otes. I use 2. This was arguctl to me Ily MI. G. EIartiian, for which I am ol,liged to him.

3. I am indebted for this objection and the discussion of it to Professors Bernard Williailis and Arthur Prior and Mr 1'. T. Geach. 4. 1 a m obliged to Professor Frarik Ebersole for telling nie of an cxpcricncc of his which supplied this cxarnplc. 5. Example from M. Lucliiesh. 6. Example trom W. James. 7. Word L Z I T ~OOject (Carrtbridjie. Mass., 1960), p. 7.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful