Forms and Definitions of Intention

Intention involves planning, awareness and will: intention is purposeful.

Intention can be parsed in several ways.

See the definition of intention from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for additional thoughts on Intention.

  • Timing:
    • Immediate intention, is my intention immediate? Like a desire to hold my breath while I am actively holding my breath.
    • Medium term intention, is my intention to accomplish something soon, like an intent to brush my teeth before I go to bed.
    • Longer term sustained intention, is my intention to hold something longer, like a life style intention such as an intention to brush my teeth each evening for the rest of my life.
  • Doing vs Thinking: related in someways to the timing.
    • The intention while doing an act differs from the intention of a future act. A refinement to this is the completion of an act vs the mid-act intention of completion. Until the act is completed the intention is directed to a future completion and is held as a thought without satisfaction of the completed act.
  • Subservience and dependency:
    • If I intend action A and action B is a point along the way to action A, is action B intended?
    • Intending to mow the lawn may require my starting a lawn mower unless the lawn mower was already started.
  • Prioritization:
    • If I hold a belief to be kind and a desire to get home in time, which dictates the choice of being late or cutting someone off on the highway?

The following definitions of intention are from Merriam Webster:

intent noun
1 : a usually clearly formulated or planned intention: aim the director’s intent
2a : the act or fact of intending: purpose especially : the design or purpose to commit a wrongful or criminal act admitted wounding him with intent b : the state of mind with which an act is done : volition
3a : meaning, significance b : connotation sense 3

intent adjective
1 : directed with strained or eager attention : concentrated
2 : having the mind, attention, or will concentrated on something or some end or purpose intent on their work

intention noun
1a : what one intends to do or bring about b : the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
2 : a determination to act in a certain way : resolve

intentional adjective
1 : done by intention or design : intended intentional damage
2a : of or relating to epistemological intention b : having external reference

intentionally adverb
1 : in an intentional manner : with awareness of what one is doing : purposely an intentionally vague response The witness intentionally gave misleading answers to the questions. The test is intentionally designed to trick students.

From a behavioral perspective the definition of intention and also be viewed as a combination of personal attitudes and cultural norms. From Wikipedia:

In the theory of reasoned action, intention is influenced by people's attitude toward performing the behavior and the subjective norm. However, the level of perceived control is believed to be influential on people's behavioral intention along with their attitude and subjective norms, according to the theory of planned behavior. Not surprisingly, in most studies, intention is driven by attitudes to a greater extent than by subjective norms.