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Property of being directed toward an object. Intentionality is exhibited in various mental phenomena. Thus, if a person experiences an emotion toward an object, he has an intentional attitude toward it. Other examples of intentional attitudes toward an object are, looking for, believing in, and thinking about. Intentional attitudes also include propositional attitudes. One characteristic of intentionality is inexistence: A person may be intentionally related to an object that does not exist. Thus, what a person looks for (and intentionally seeks) may not exist, and an event he believes to occur may not occur at all. Another characteristic is referential opacity: A sentence truly ascribing an intentional state to a person may become false when some alternative description of the object of that state is substituted for it. Suppose that his pen is the millionth pen produced this year, so that his pen and the millionth pen produced this year have the same reference. It may be true to say that he is in the intentional state of searching for his pen but false to say that he is in the intentional state of searching for the millionth pen produced this year; similarly, he may believe that this is his pen and yet not believe this is the millionth pen produced this year.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on intentionality, visit Britannica.com.