from George Pattison on intentional objects.
However, there are two further refinements to the theory of intentionality we must take into account if we are to understand the philosophical significance that Heidegger ascribes to it.
The first concerns the distinction between intentional presuming and intentional fulfilment. Presuming, in this context, means simply alluding to what is perceived in a general, empty, merely formal way, as when I report to a friend in the corridor outside the room ‘There’s a chair in that room’. The friend will perfectly well understand what I say, but this will say nothing to him of how he will encounter the chair for himself when he goes in, whether he sees it as a tasteful antique chair, a shabby old thing, an obstruction or a convenience. The intention has become detached from its object, and the object itself, the chair, is correctly identified but not thought in its concrete specificity. Intentionality is said to be fulfilled in concrete intuition such that I have ‘the entity present in its intuitive content so that what is at first only emptily presumed in it demonstrates itself as grounded in the matter’.
However, no more than in Origin does Heidegger understand intuition here in terms of the immediacy of sense experience. My grasp of the chair as that from which I have to shoo off the cat is in some sense prior to its impact on me as a congeries of sense data. In this connection Heidegger claims that there is a categorial structure given in intuition. Now, clearly, in the light of his comments about substance and accidents (and of what he will go on to say about matter and form) Heidegger is not wanting to endorse either a Kantian or an Aristotelian theory of categories, and certainly against Kant, if not Aristotle, he is not suggesting that we have at our disposal a table of categories that we simply ‘apply’ in intuition. Instead, the ‘how’ of our intuition always involves a certain structuring of experience that is embedded in the most fundamental dimension of experience itself. I see a row of trees, a flock of wild ducks, Heidegger says, and that I see them as a row or a flock ‘is not based upon a prior act of counting. It is an intuitive unity which gives the whole simply. It is figural’.
Against this background, we can see that Heidegger’s apparently buccaneer brushing-aside of the second view of the thing, the thing as what is given to us as the object of sense-experience – a view which ‘makes it press too hard upon us’ – presupposes an extensive philosophical preparation, the outcome of which is that, for Heidegger, sense experience is never ‘raw’ but always already interpreted, experienced ‘as’ this or that object of intentional comportment.