• Pantagruel
    3.4k
    We ought to associate intentionality with the act itself, which is the means, rather than with the end. Intention is a cause, and what is caused is action.Metaphysician Undercover

    Precisely. I believe this is essentially identical with my observation:

    Intentionality is not just about what is aimed at, it is also about what is the reason for a certain type of action.Pantagruel
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    I have no problem with the idea that our intentions are actualized imperfectly; and I don't deny that people can be held responsible for their negligence. So I am not following what you are contending with.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    But that is undemonstrable and is easily refuted by people who are born with eyes and yet are blind

    This is just an example of a thing not fulfilling its end properly; and NOT that it had no end. It is uncontroversially true that the body develops the eyes for seeing all else being equal. When the circumstances impede, then there can be an eye which is developed in an impoverished manner.

    For example, we can say that the Sun will be extinct in X years exactly, that is a Telos that we understand, and we can do all the tests we want and that will not prove that it will be extinct in X years

    The sun has as its end, albeit not intentional nor intelligently designated, to do exactly what a start does, and the particular one it is. We would say that sun, as per its nature, will eventually become a neutron star or a black hole.

    With evolution, it is much clearer and we treat biology as if it has Telos: the doctor determines how healthy your body is by-at-large relative to what it is supposed to be doing and how it is supposed to be developing.

    You can say that the telos of life is to reproduce and survive

    No, the end is to realize the nature of a human; which does include procreation, family, etc.

    There’s a lot more to being a human than reproduction and survival.

    Do we say that people who do not want to have children have no life? And people who commit suicide? Thousands of similar examples can be proposed

    There’s absolutely no relevance of these statements and our conversation.

    The point is that you cannot take as a necessity that which is a possibility.

    Aiming at an end, is always to say that the end is not actual nor necessary (per se) and that it is merely a possibility which is attempting to be realized. This objection is just an obvious misunderstanding of what teleology is.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    Yes, that is what I am arguing. We ought to associate intentionality with the act itself, which is the means, rather than with the end

    Then you are not talking about intentionality as it is commonly and predominantly understood. So we are talking past each other. I am only interested in intentionality as it is largely understood. Your view of intentionality strips out the essence of intention and swaps it for causality; which of no use when we analyze the intentions of someone.

    Intention is a cause, and what is caused is action.

    The intention is wrapped up, inextricably, with the action; and what is caused is an effect.

    we see that intention causes an act

    Intention is an act; and does not cause it. The intention is no where to be found in physical causality.

    I am using "intentional" to signify something which is cause by an act of intention

    What is intentional is what is related to the intention; and the intention is the end which is being aimed at. You can’t implicate someone as intentionally doing something they entirely did not foresee happening just because it resulted from an act of intention towards something else. That makes no sense.

    This creates the issue of what exactly does direct the conscious actions which are not consistent with the apprehended good

    I don’t understand what you mean by a “conscious act” which is not intentional (in the traditional sense of intentionality); and this seems to be the crux of your argument. If I consciously decide to do X, then I intentionally did X—even if X is the end I am trying to actualize.
  • JuanZu
    120
    This is just an example of a thing not fulfilling its end properly; and NOT that it had no end. It is uncontroversially true that the body develops the eyes for seeing all else being equal. When the circumstances impede, then there can be an eye which is developed in an impoverished manner.Bob Ross

    Think about how you discover for the first time that an eye is used to see. You obviously don't know that a priori, until it is actually functioning. And the assumption that "seeing" is somehow magically contained in the development of the eye is actually conditioned by elements external to the eye (e.g. the light that the eye needs for vision, and this is evidently external to the eye, it cannot be said that light belongs to the teleological identity of the eye); but mainly it is never demonstrated a priori, only a posteriori. An eye can always fail to see, and it is not necessarily a failure, it is just one more possibility of the eye. But why a posteriori? Because what we call the function of the eye is externally determined by other identities (such as light), which can no longer belong to the essence of the eye. So: light is not the eye, but light is necessary for the vision of the eye. If light is not the eye then light is not part of the teleology of the eye. And consequently vision is not something that is somehow prefigured in the eye. So there is no teleology called "vision" in the eye.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    the assumption that "seeing" is somehow magically contained in the development of the eye is actually conditioned by elements external to the eye (e.g. the light that the eye needs for vision, and this is evidently external to the eye, it cannot be said that light belongs to the teleological identity of the eye); but mainly it is never demonstrated a priori, only a posterioriJuanZu

    Reminds me of Nietzsche’s analysis of ‘purpose’:

    “… the origin of the emergence of a thing and its ultimate usefulness, its practical application and incorporation into a system of ends, are toto coelo separate; that anything in existence, having somehow come about, is continually interpreted anew, requisitioned anew, transformed and redirected to a new purpose by a power superior to it; that everything that occurs in the organic world consists of overpowering, dominating, and in their turn, overpowering and dominating consist of re-interpretation, adjustment, in the process of which their former ‘meaning' and ‘purpose' must necessarily be obscured or completely obliterated.

    No matter how perfectly you have understood the usefulness of any physiological organ (or legal institution, social custom, political usage, art form or religious rite), you have not yet thereby grasped how it emerged: uncomfortable and unpleasant as this may sound to more elderly ears,– for people down the ages have believed that the obvious purpose of a thing, its utility, form and shape, are its reason for existence, the eye is made to see, the hand to grasp…the whole history of a ‘thing', an organ, a tradition can to this extent be a continuous chain of signs, continually revealing new interpretations and adaptations, the causes of which need not be connected even amongst themselves, but rather sometimes just follow and replace one another at random.”
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    Your view of intentionality strips out the essence of intention and swaps it for causality; which of no use when we analyze the intentions of someone.Bob Ross

    I strongly disagree with this. Our most reliable access to a person's intention is through observations of the actions which that person causes. This is because often if we ask a person what their goals were when they acted they do not answer honestly, they might just make something up. Furthermore, the issue I described already is that the person often does not even accurately know one's own intentions when actions are carried out. This is the case with habit. This boosts the inclination to make things up. Therefore the most accurate way to analyze the intentions of someone is through the actions which they cause.

    The intention is wrapped up, inextricably, with the action; and what is caused is an effect.Bob Ross

    Exactly, what is caused is an effect, the effect of the person's intention. The effects of a person's intention are observable and analyzable. Because of this we can produce a reliable science of intention. On the other hand, if we ask a person what one's goals were, we generally do not acquire reliable information.

    What is intentional is what is related to the intention; and the intention is the end which is being aimed at.Bob Ross

    That is your preferred definition of "intention" because it is most consistent with the convention which associates intention with purpose. What I am saying is that if we define "intention" as the cause of one's actions instead, this provides us with a more scientific approach toward understanding purpose, aims, and goals. This is because, as I described in the last post, a person's actions are often not consistent with the person's goals. There are many reasons for this inconsistency, the force of habit, the force of mental illness, and the common example of faulty reasoning. In many cases, the person's determination of the means to the desired end, is faulty.

    Because of these factors, which produce inconsistency or incoherency between one's actions and one's goals, and the fact that for moral/legal purposes the person's acts must be considered "intentional" even when the acts are not conducive to the desired end, we need to associate "intention" with the act rather than with the end which is aimed for. This indicates that "intention" ought to be associated with the act rather than the goal.

    You can’t implicate someone as intentionally doing something they entirely did not foresee happening just because it resulted from an act of intention towards something else.Bob Ross

    Of course you can. For example, if someone thinks that burning the front lawn is a good way to cleanup the yard, and lights it on fire, then lighting the fire is intentional, regardless of whether the yard actually gets cleaned up, or if the whole neighbourhood gets burned. What is significant is that the fire started from an intentional act. What the person's actual goal was when lighting the fire is insignificant. And even if the fire is started by carelessly throwing away a cigarette, that is an intentional act, so the person is responsible for the damage caused by the fire.

    I don’t understand what you mean by a “conscious act” which is not intentional (in the traditional sense of intentionality); and this seems to be the crux of your argument. If I consciously decide to do X, then I intentionally did X—even if X is the end I am trying to actualize.Bob Ross

    You don't understand because you restrict "intention" to the end on your understanding. Take my previous example of tossing a burning cigarette. Suppose the person just does it by habit, having no goal in mind when the action takes place. The person does not consciously develop the goal of tossing the butt, just does it. That is what I mean by a conscious act which is not intentional (in your sense). I believe there are many such haphazard, whimsical type acts, which the average person does every day, which cannot be said to be goal-directed. You might try to say that the act itself is the goal, but it cannot be truly expressed the way you say, "X is the goal", because there is no goal, just the urge to act in a specific way. So anytime the answer to "why did you do that", is "I felt like it", this is an example. It's very common in the way that people converse (speaking being a conscious act), many times we speak without thinking, no deliberation at all. And after speaking, in these situations, I cannot say that it was my goal to say what I said, it just came to my mind in the circumstances. Young children are also more prone toward acting this way, before they learn to control themselves.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    There doesn't have to be a standard for there to be a spectrum.Pantagruel

    Right, but that's why your original objection doesn't hold. All that is needed is a spectrum. I would actually consider a spectrum a standard.

    I personally know lots of people that live their lives recklessly and whose "intentions" routinely cause all kinds of havoc and produce all kinds of "unintended consequences".Pantagruel

    This is emotional reasoning. The problem is that you apparently don't know anyone who struggles with the opposite vice of scrupulosity, and so you run to the opposite extreme. Just as there are people who think too little about the effects of their actions, so too there are people who think too much about the effects of their actions. As I noted in my first post:

    I think Aristotle's mean is very important. People think happiness is about chasing pleasures and avoiding pains, but they also fail to observe the mean in explicitly moral thinking. For example, I was recently having a discussion with Joshs over his idea that all blame/culpability should be eradicated from society (link). This is a common contemporary trope, "Blame/culpability is bad, therefore we should go to the extreme of getting rid of it altogether" (Joshs takes the culturally popular route of saying that everyone is always doing their very best, and therefore it is illogical to blame anyone for anything).

    For Aristotle it is never that simple. We can't just run to the extreme and call it a day. Things like blame and anger will involve a mean, and because of this there will be appropriate and inappropriate forms of blame and anger. The key is learning to blame and become angry when we ought to blame and become angry, and learning not to blame and become angry when we ought not blame and become angry.
    Leontiskos

    Modern moral theories always forget about the mean. That is what you are doing. You think "Conscientiousness = Good and Indifference to Effects = Bad." What you don't see is that too much conscientiousness and too little indifference to effects is its own vice: scrupulosity. It's not black and white.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Another side of accidents that touches upon consequences well beyond our view is reflected in Aristotle saying there could be no science of them. That is oddly echoed in Chaos theory and the delicate efficacy of the butterfly effect. The big garden is not being tended.Paine

    But if one knows about the butterfly effect, are such effects still accidental? In any case, it would be difficult to know about the butterfly effect without going mad.

    I do think the sublimity of Christ’s teaching comes in at this point. It seems clear that Christ wants us to produce second-order goodness (exactly opposite of what is produced when the boss strikes his employee). That is, we are to become the sort of people who produce goodness in excess without knowing it.

    Christ upholds the paradox, again and again, wherein we are not to know it, and are certainly not to focus upon it. Consider:

    • So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ (Luke 17:10)
    • "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)
    • “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” (Luke 21:3-4)
    • (Simon Tugwell's book, The Beatitutes, is very good on this topic)

    At times he ups the ante, pushing the paradox very near absurdity:

    • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
    • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well." (Matthew 5:38-40)
    • "And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder..." (Matthew 20:9-11)
    • “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

    The key to all of this is that we are to become like unto God, and not only like unto Plotinus’ God, but unto a god who is very strange, even foreign to the second temple Jews. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

    I don’t think the butterfly effect was as foreign to the ancient world as it is to ours. They understood that the spheres interrelate and interpenetrate. They understood that no one thing acts independently of the rest. Christ’s teaching comes into this bed of knowledge and raises it up to a pitch unheard.

    …Of course, to the modern mechanistic mind, both the ancient worldview and Christ’s teaching are rubbish, or at best useful fictions. For them it looks to be a science of accidents, for the ancients it is a science of what is known only with great difficulty, and for the Christians it is a science that could not have been known if The Scientist had not shown it to us.

    Christ’s teaching does not contradict or invalidate Aristotle‘s, but it does go beyond it. Today we face the odd reality of a West which would reject its Christian inheritance but which unknowingly continues to hold deeply Christian principles while at the same time failing to recognize their sublimity, and especially their paradoxical nature. When a high morality is not seen to be high, and when the paradoxes it contains are not properly recognized, it is wielded with devastating effects.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    This is emotional reasoning.Leontiskos

    No, it's a fact about human intentionality.
  • Mikie
    6.4k
    Modern society is decaying; and this decay is a direct result of moral anti-realismBob Ross

    Decaying from what to what?

    To attribute the cause to some philosophical jargon that no one cares about except philosophy hobbyists seems far fetched.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    To attribute the cause to some philosophical jargon that no one cares about except philosophy hobbyists seems far fetched.Mikie

    Essentially, traditional religious values provided a morally realist framework. Durkheim's anomie is the state of normlessness that arises from alienation from fundamental values of life, including the decline of traditional religious morality. So this isn't a new idea, at all. Just something recloaked in modern jargon. Which seems to be a favourite strategy of modern thinkers. Which, unfortunately tends to alienate them from the philosophical history of ideas, producing a state of normlessness, leading to the decay of civilization....lol.
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