Intentionality

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(1) Intentionality
John Haugeland, in “What is Mind Design”, says that intentionality is meant to describe that everything mental has intentionality, and that nothing else does unless it is derived from something else that is mental. In particular, intentionality is about aboutness. By this I mean that some things are about other things. For example, if I say that, ‘People are crazy’, the statement I just made is about people. More example of aboutness are; a map of the University of Arizona is ‘about’ the University of Arizona, a picture of my son is ‘about’ my son, the belief that there is a God is ‘about’ God, and so on. Even this class is about intentionality. Conversely, intentionality can be tricky in the fact that people, the University of Arizona, my son and God are not about anything without the context that lends aboutness to them. I’m sure that some arguments that God is ‘about’ a lot, but there is a distinction that needs to made between aboutness and meaning. The meaning of God is ‘about’ a higher power, a way of life, compassion and many other beliefs. But meaning and intentionality are two different things, just like a blank wall has no intentionality, but the meaning of a blank wall could have several different connotations.

Now that we have a clear understanding of intentionality, we can discuss more in detail what original intentionality and derived intentionality mean. Using the same schema described earlier we can separate the intentionality into original and derived. A map of the University of Arizona and a picture of my son can be said to be derived intentionality because their aboutness is derived from what somebody meant for them to be about or they get their intentionality from what we think about them. Where as ‘People are crazy’, and a belief that there is a God is original intentionality because these are our thoughts and beliefs, they don’t rely on any convention, they are just intrinsically about things.

This leads us to why someone might regard original intentionality as the mark of the mental. I believe that original intentionality is the mark of the mental because, like described in “What is Mind Design”, one can have intentionality on something that is not going to happen. A good example was given by Haugleand when he talked about imagining a party on a certain date. He says that he can perfectly well imagine a party on a certain date, and also have beliefs, desires, and fears about it, even though there is no such party. Even know all those beliefs would be false and all the hopes and fears would be unfulfilled, they would still be intentional. This has original intentionality because they are all beliefs, it is not derived from something else and is a definitive mark of the mental, as said by John Haugeland.

(2) Turing Test
Alan Turing created this test to discern whether a computer can be considered to be a thinking thing or not. The test, which later got coined ‘The Turing Test’, basically takes a computer and tries to deceive a human into believing that it, the computer, is a human as well. Alan Turing thought that if the human could not discern the difference between another human and the computer, then the computer could be thought to be a thinking thing.

It is important to distinguish the difference between passing the Turing test and being a thinking thing and not passing the Turing test and still being a thinking thing. I am fairly hopeful that I myself would be considered a thinking thing. Keeping in mind I have not taken the Turing test, I believe that I could pass the Turing test. By passing the Turing test, according to Turing I could be defined as a thinking thing. However, my twelve year old son might struggle passing the Turing test because he might not know the correct questions to ask to discern the difference between another person and the machine. So my son could easily fail the Turing test, but by no means does...
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