Intentionality

The ability to make a choice implies some underlying structure upon which that choice is made. The structure that gives meaning to experience and allows people to make decisions about the future is called intentionality (May, 1969b). Without intentionality, people could neither choose nor act on their choice. Action hnplies intentionality, just as intentionality implies action; the two are inseparable.

May used the term "intentionality" to bridge the gap between subject and object. Intentionality is "the structure of meaning which makes it possible for us, subjects that we are, to see and understand the outside world, objective that it is. In intentionality, the dichotomy between subject and object is partially overcome" (May, 1969b, p. 225).

To illustrate how intentionality partially bridges the gap between subject and object, May (1969b) used a simple example of a man (the subject) seated at his desk observhig a piece of paper (the object). The man can write on the paper, fold it hito a paper airplane for his grandson, or sketch a picture on it. In all three instances, the subject (man) and object (paper) are identical, but the man's actions depend on his intentions and on the meaning he gives to his experience. That meaning is a function of both himself (subject) and his environment (object).

Intentionality is sometimes unconscious. For example, when Philip felt a duty to take care of Nicole despite her unpredictable and "crazy" behavior, he did not see that his actions were in some way connected to his early experiences with his unpredictable mother and his "crazy" sister. He was trapped hi his unconscious belief that unpredictable and "crazy" women must be cared for, and this intentionality made it impossible for him to discover new ways of relating to Nicole.

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