Intentionality and language

Full MoonIndexical signs inform an organism by redirecting attention within its Umwelt, which includes only those entities with which the animal is equipped to interact. An animal without ears, or rather lacking any sense of hearing, lives in a silent world. For us humans, this external world includes all sorts of things we can think and speak about. When we talk about it, we say that the object out there is ‘intended’ by the term we use in reference to it (which relates it to our Innenwelt). Some philosophers refer to this ‘aboutness’ as ‘intentionality.’ It is a universal feature of language, and of what Damasio calls ‘extended consciousness.’ This very special kind of intentionality develops out of the more universal kind introduced in Chapter 4, which is characteristic of all life forms. But we humans are – as far as we know – unique on this planet in having developed an ability to talk about development, or about experience.

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