Mental Being and Intentionality

March 6, 2020 - March 7, 2020
University of Geneva

2 Rue Jean-Daniel-Colladon


Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
University of Geneva
Humboldt-University, Berlin

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When we say that something “is”, we usually mean that it is present in mind-independent reality. However, it is plausible to suggest that when we conceive of something, the objects of that particular conception are also present in our mind. We express this intuition in ordinary language when we speak of “having something on one’s mind.” The question how anything can be in our mind is central for medieval discussions of mental being.  How does an object with the status of mental being distinguish itself from an extramental object? Is mental being a true ontological status of the object or only a way of considering it? Philosophers have noticed that having something on our mind implies that we direct our attention to it. They call this directedness “intentionality.” Is however mental being the term or the instrument of intentionality? Does mental being always correspond to some extramental being to which we direct our attention?

In this workshop, we will study the development of theories of mental being and intentionality in MedievalArabic-Islamic and Latin philosophy (10th-14th centuries). We will discuss which uniform patterns and solutions one can track in these two philosophical traditions and how the arguments that Arabic-Islamic and Latin philosophers proposed in different periods relate to each other. Thus, we will provide a continuous systematic account of the discussion of mental being and intentionality, and will contribute to bridging the gap between the accounts of the Aristotelian doctrine of mental forms and Brentano’s notion of intentionality.

This workshop will lead to the composition of a volume with collected papers on mental being and intentionality in the Middle Ages, as part of the “On What There Was” series (general editors: Laurent Cesalli and Nadja German,

Friday 6 March: Islamic Philosophy

14:00-14:15         Opening words

14:15-15:30         Gregor Schwarb (SOAS, London)

15:30-15:45         Coffee break

15:45-17:00         Davlat Dadikhuda (University of Jyväskylä)

19:30                   Conference Dinner

Saturday 7 March: Latin Medieval Philosophy

 9:30-10:45           Therese Cory (University of Notre Dame)

 10:45-11:00         Coffee break

 11:00-12:15         Fabrizio Amerini (University of Parma)

 12:15-14:00         Lunch

 14:00-15:15         Russell Friedman & Jenny Pelletier (University of Leuven)

 15:15-15:30         Coffee break

 15:30-16:15         Closing Discussion

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