Intentionality of Consciousness

T. K. Badrinath
Vivekananda College, Chennai                   

Phenomenology is the study of consciousness from the first person point of view. There are different kinds of experiences describing different things just as we experience them, in perception, thought, emotion, imagination and so on. Inspired and influenced by Brentano to a great extent, Husserl went on to develop a new science called as phenomenology and further defined it as the science of the essence of consciousness.

Every act of consciousness is intentional and is directed towards some object. Accordingly intentionality is the central theme or the common thread that runs throughout   the essence of consciousness. Every act of consciousness is experienced by a subject and is directed towards a corresponding object. In every act there is a content or a sense that prescribes an object as having different features. Furthermore what the content prescribes is constrained by a horizon of background meaning. Intentionality essentially consists in this complex relation among subject, act, content and object, constrained by horizon.

The analysis of intentionality and its structure forms the basis of Husserl’s new science of Phenomenology. Special mention is to be given to Husserl’s concept of life–world which refers to our surrounding world in which we live or the world as experienced in our everyday lives. For Husserl, the character of our world is essentially objective, subjective as well as inter-subjective. Thus we experience a world of relations among things in space and time in an objective way; the subjective refers to the way our conscious experience flows in relation to things around us and the inter-subjective refers to the way the things are there for everyone along with social activities in our everyday life. An analysis of all these diverse features of experience together forms an intricate account of the overall structure of consciousness thereby defining the parameters of the new discipline of Phenomenology.