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The Constitution of the Intellect and the Farabian Doctrine of First and Second Intention

Zurück zum Heft: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2018-2


This article examines Abu Nasr al-Farabı (c. 872–950/1) on the topic of intentionality, with particular focus on how intentionality is integral for the constitution of the intellect within his psychology. Unfortunately, targeted study of al-Farabı’s doctrine of intentionality has been largely neglected since Kwame Gyekye’s 1971 essay, The Terms ‘Prima Intentio’ and ‘Secunda Intentio’ in Arabic Logic. Gyekye showed that the Arabic (and thus the Latin) doctrine of first and second intention originated within the texts of al-Farabı,not the texts of Avicenna, as had been previously thought. In response, this article aims to show three things. First, while the doctrine of first and second intention appears in al-Farabı’s texts, it is not as clearly developed or defined as is presented in Gyekye’s 1971 article. al-Farabı both lacks consistent technical terminology for the doctrine (as he discusses it across disparate sciences, in unrelated contexts) and develops it far too little to fully flesh out his doctrine. Second, even given the fact that al-Farabı’s discussion of intentionality is underdeveloped, Gyekye was right to credit the doctrine to him. And third, al-Farabı’s doctrine of first and second intention is not merely important to understand his positions regarding signification and universals; they play a pivotal role in the constitution of the human intellect