I am trying to understand the difference between Being of something and Being about something.

I've been reading about the difference between Think of and Think about, but I'm still not sure how it applies to Being ?

The complete sentence is :

In summary, any (object-directed) conscious experience, in addition to being of or about its intentional object is pre-reflectively manifest to itself.

It comes from a very good introductory text related to phenomenology, a philosophical current: By using a technique called "Bracketing", one can focus the analysis on the living or feeling experience rather than on the final object as we're used to.

So now that I have tried to bring some context to my question, how can I understand Being of or about something?

Thank you !

  • I can't see that "of or" means anything, or add anything to the sentence.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 30, 2019 at 15:08
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    @ColinFine: How about of = directly arising from its intentional object, as opposed to about being more a matter of some conscious experience being indirectly mediated by someone's attitudes / reactions to whatever they think the experience "means"? Such as, perhaps, the difference between the actual experience of having a row with your partner, and how you feel when you contemplate that experience? The second of which usually occurs somewhat later, but sometimes we can "externalise" our perspective while simultaneously having the experience itself. Jan 30, 2019 at 15:26
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    (intentional objects are hard to think about! :) Jan 30, 2019 at 15:29
  • @FumbleFingers So shall we say that "of" relates more to the real object, when "about" is rather related to the memory fingerprint ? Jan 30, 2019 at 23:31
  • @FumbleFingers Indeed they are ! :)) Great examples, I will read the pdf you pointed at Jan 30, 2019 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


"Be of" in this context means directly a result of or stemming from some first-hand experience. Put in other terms, it refers to something that is personally experienced by an individual.

The memory I have is of being a child and being harshly punished.

"Be about" within this context refers to something that is remembered or related to, but not something that is necessarily part of one's first-hand experience and more anecdotal in origin. This is more of indirect much less personal memory that you are experiencing in that moment.

I have a memory that is about watching television and learning that Elvis had died.

  • Thank you, could you think of an example (to make it even clearer) ? Jan 30, 2019 at 23:38

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