What is the difference between intension and intention?

  • What is the difference between intention and intension? If one intends to do something is this intent part of the concept of intension?

    See Intention : "Intention is an agent's specific purpose in performing an action or series of actions, the end or goal that is aimed at. Outcomes that are not anticipated and not foreseen are known as unintended consequences." See Intension : "In linguistics, logic, philosophy, and other fields, an intension is any property or quality connoted by a word, phrase, or another symbol." They are unrelated concepts ...

    +1 This is a very important question for understanding modern philosophy. I remember reading Davidson, who uses both in the same essay without warning, it was very confusing until someone pointed out that there were two different words differentiated only by a single letter. They are indeed quite different concepts.

    But would it be possible for the word *intent* to still be in the "semantic proximity" of *intension* though? Because I have seen people (mathematicians, rather than philosophers of the mind) acting like so, with *extent* being cousin of *extension* also for example. But on the other hand, it could even just be due to their first language being german...

  • shane

    shane Correct answer

    7 years ago

    The "intension" of a concept is its meaning, whereas the "extension" of the concept is the set of the things that fall under that concept. The most helpful way to see the distinction is with a pair of concepts that have the same extension, but different intensions.

    For instance "renate" (="having kidneys") and "cordate" (="having a heart"). Everything that is the one is also the other, so the terms are coextensive. Yet there is still clearly a difference in meaning between them.

    "Intentional" on the other hand in these contexts usually means "being about something". (The idea of doing something "intentionally" i.e. on purpose is actually quite different.) Mental states are often intentional, that is to say, usually we are seeing that p, or believing that p, or doubting that p, or whatever. There is some content p to the mental state that it is about.

    Are there unsolved or unresolved dilemmas related to differences between intensional and intentional? Could intentional that means 'being about something' refer mainly to dynamic processes necessary for the 'something' to occur. Maybe intension refers to 'states'of desciption related to the thing's meaning.Is this valid?

    Not to my knowledge. The reason for this is that the "intension" and "extension" are going to be properties of concepts or words (or maybe sentences) whereas "intentionality" is going to be a property of mental states or something. It's hard to image what it would mean for a process to be "about" something.

    I use of the term 'static'property for qualities of 'something' that are not necessarily involved in any necessary processes of the something. And 'dynamic'properties for qualities important to the continued existence of the 'something'. Maybe a dynamic property (a property that requires a certain duration of time and proper çoordination with other traits) could be interpreted as being about the 'something'being considered.

    There is "intentional" as applied to words/sentences -- e.g., "Barack Obama is the US President." seems to be about Barack Obama. This isn't to contradict anything you've said, just to add that there is a semantic notion of "aboutness" as well. The intension/extension distinction is somewhat similar to the connotation/denotation or sense/reference distinction -- in case that helps the OP. (In formal semantics the "extension" of a term is its referent in the world of evaluation and the "intension" is a function from possible worlds to referents.)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM