Meaty thoughts

Bill has another post arguing against a materialist philosophy of mind. He says,
So if the materialist says that the brain means, intends, represents, thinks, etc., then I say that makes no sense given what we understand the brain to be. The brain is a material system and the physical, chemical, electrical, and biological properties it and its parts have cannot be meaningfully predicated of mental states. One cannot speak intelligibly of a voltage drop across a mental state any more than can one speak intelligibly of the intentionality of synapses or of their point of view or of what it is like to be one.
The second and third sentences appear to be in support of the thesis expressed in the first.  One cannot speak intelligibly of the voltage drop across the executing Firefox process by which I'm writing this post on my computer, but this does not prevent  this process from being, at a physical level of description,  an intricate dance of currents and voltages inside the complex arrangement of conductor, semi-conductor, and insulator that is the computer's processor and memory.  Nor does it prevent there being other ways of describing the Firefox process's dynamics that do not refer to its physical substrate of atoms and electrons.  Why can't mental talk be a specialised language for reporting our limited experience of what's going on inside our own heads?

Bill also says this,
If you tell me that a certain configuration of neurons is intrinsically object-directed, directed to an object that may or may not exist without prejudice to the object-directedness, then you are saying something unintelligible.
Suppose we were able to observe the neurons in an owl's brain as it tracked a vole's movements across the ground; or those in an ape's brain as it reached out to pluck a fruit from a nearby branch.  And suppose we could identify a group of neurons whose activation was causally dependent on the activation of neurons afferent from foveal retinal cells on which lay the image of the vole/fruit. And suppose the activation of these neurons caused the activation of neurons efferent on muscles of the wings/arm in such a way that the image of the vole/fruit lay centred on the fovea and the flight of the owl/movement of the hand brought it towards the object of the creature's attention.  Would we not want to say that the activation of those neurons was 'object-directed', that it possessed 'intrinsic intentionality' towards the object, or 'intrinsic representational power'?   Or would this count merely as derived intentionality/meaning/representational power? Or maybe no intentionality, etc, at all?

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