So is cool. It seems to me that it went a bit wrong way back when Husserl made intentionality ("aboutness") so central. Is "aboutness" really a basic concept? Is there a fact of the matter wrt whether P is about X, or is it just a word that describes a fuzzy category where people can disagree without one of them being wrong (like, say, "knowledge")?

Come to think of it I wrote a bit about this once (over ten years ago haha), if not exactly from the phenomenological pov...

But if we avoid the mistake of bringing in aboutness, and for that matter external objects, so early on, is the most obvious, and perhaps the most difficult, place to start one's going, since it is (sort of by definition) starting with exactly whatever it is that the individual is Given, and trying to build everything else up from that.

(And perhaps the first fun paradox is that neither words nor other people to communicate with are necessarily Given, so what is one even doing?!)

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@ceoln On a mathematical level, you need to have something like “a relation of reference” or “a relation of collection” to break out of a holistic monism and describe “different kinds” or change. Aboutness isn’t an ontological assertion really. I mean, phenomenology is widely interpreted and there are some who do make it metaphysical, but it’s fundamental use is epistemological. We have mental states different than direct experience (thoughts) and these deal in patterns and abstractions. Aboutness is how we express the relationship between these internal states and experience.

Functionalist and enactivist approaches to cognition expose very similar relationships in their description. This is the fundamental epiphany that Bolzano had on symbol and referent founding phenomenology, and it persists today in the formal apparatus of model theory and the syntax to semantics interpretation function.

All good thoughts! It may be that I want to use metaphysically, or at least have it precede (and ). That is, to get from the unlabeled (if not unitary) storm of subjective , to a story about what (else) exists, and how we come to know about it, without bringing in any other assumptions without good reason.

So if we are going to divide awareness into something like "internal states" and "experiences of the external world", and do theory about relationships between the former and the latter, we're going to have to work at it; we can't just take those things as (even if we end up deciding that they are Given, we have to justify that decision, not take it as a free space so to speak).

If we take something like naive ontology (or any other world theory really) as assumable, or at least stipulated, then all of this becomes sort of moot, and phenomenology is just the niche study of why our experiences (which happen within an external world that we already know exists, by other means) are how they are.

But that's Easy Mode. :)

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