It’s standard in philosophy of mind to distinguish between two basic kinds of mental phenomena: intentional states, which are about or represent other items or themselves, such as beliefs about your mother’s new hairdo, and phenomenal states, such as feelings of pain or visual experiences of seeing red. It’s also hotly debated how to explain how both kinds of mental phenomena are part of a purely physical world. The dominant approach in recent decades is to explain the phenomenal in terms of the intentional and the intentional in terms of the physical causal – that is, to explain conscious experience in terms of intentionality and to explain intentionality in terms of causal relations between thinkers and what they are thinking about.
In his new book, The Sources of Intentionality (Oxford University Press), Uriah Kriegel, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, argues for a reversal of this order of explanation. On his view, conscious experience is basic to the explanation of all mental phenomena. In this erudite, stylish and provocative volume, Kriegel weighs the relative virtues of higher-order tracking and adverbial theories of experiential intentionality, and defends an interpretivist account of non-experiential intentionality.