An argument for the immateriality of the intellect

So what I would expect to happen, if EM is to be demonstrated to be true, is this: A complete account of brain functioning is achieved that does not use intentionality at all. By “complete” I mean that how an organism perceives and responds to any stimulus can be accurately predicted. e.g. Solely by measuring the brain activity of a subject we can know that she has been presented with the choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream, and we can predict which she will choose. There is no room or need for intentionality in this model.

Intentionality, then, could be understood as a mere illusion, but one that is very persistent. Simply knowing that it is an illusion does not necessarily reduce our conviction that it exists, just as knowing that the two squares in the tiled floor illusion are the same shade does not allow us to actually see them as the same shade. By this time, however, we would now understand the brain so well that we would also understand how the illusion of intentionality arises.

What happens next is a bit more difficult to predict. Probably, we would just continue to speak in the language of intentionality, just as we continue to speak of the sun “rising” in the morning despite our knowledge that the sun is not really moving across the sky at all. However, the Churchlands themselves provide a hint of how we might begin to think and speak differently if and when the scenario I suggest arrives:

Paul and Pat, realizing that the revolutionary neuroscience they dream of is still in its infancy, are nonetheless already preparing themselves for this future, making the appropriate adjustments in their everyday conversation. One afternoon recently, Paul says, he was home making dinner when Pat burst in the door, having come straight from a frustrating faculty meeting. “She said, ‘Paul, don’t speak to me, my serotonin levels have hit bottom, my brain is awash in glucocorticoids, my blood vessels are full of adrenaline, and if it weren’t for my endogenous opiates I’d have driven the car into a tree on the way home. My dopamine levels need lifting. Pour me a Chardonnay, and I’ll be down in a minute.’ ” Paul and Pat have noticed that it is not just they who talk this way—their students now talk of psychopharmacology as comfortably as of food.

This all seems rather improbable, I agree. But no less probable than the idea of some immaterial being who can create a universe out of nothing and then spends his time worrying about what some of the brainy apes he created are doing with their genitals.

Paul and Patricia Churchland’s Philosophical Marriage | The New Yorker

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I believe there is little disagreement with use of the term “life” because it is not commonly understood to refer to some Vital Force that exists apart from the biological processes that have been demonstrated thru the scientific method. If it was often understood in that way, I suspect we would have a school of thought that advocated eliminating the term altogether.

In any event, it seems to me the term “life” could be eliminated entirely, and if we only spoke of the specific processes that occur in the entities that are the subject of the study of biology, nothing would be lost other than a useful linguistic shorthand. The eliminativists, I believe, are suggesting that this is also the case for the brain in relation to many of the terms we use to describe what have usually been understood to be aspects of the mind.

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This is nonsense. Even if we had such an account, not only would there still be room for intentionality, there would also still be need for it. You can talk about brain functioning and behavioural responses until you are blue in the face, and it still wouldn’t account for the first-person subjective experiences had by people with those brains and those behaviours - nor would it refute or even undermine either premise of the main argument in this thread!

Not only would such an account fail to prove eliminative materialism over non-eliminative versions of physicalism (and all of our experience, as well as the incoherence of EM, would point us away from EM!), it would even fail to prove physicalism over something like Feser’s hylomorphic dualism (which would be able to accommodate your neurophysical account as merely part of a complete explanation - i.e., the material/efficient-causal side of the human being, with intentionality included in the formal/final-causal side).

This is also nonsense. Once again, an illusion is an instance of intentionality - it is an illusion of something. There can never be a mere illusion of intentionality because that illusion itself would involve intentionality (specifically, as the content of the illusion).

And to think that the Churchland’s quirky conversation in any way shows that intentionality could one day be eliminated from our description of reality is ridiculous. The Churchlands can talk that way to each other because they understand certain correlations between brain states (as described physically) and mental states (as experienced subjectively), those brain states have become associated in their minds with the corresponding mental states, and so they can implicitly refer to those mental states by invoking the brain states - without which implicit reference all the important meaning of their conversation is lost. Not to mention that even if they really only intended to refer to the brain states, that very act of talking about their neurophysiology is still an instance of intentionality. The whole scenario is replete with intentionality, whether Paul and Pat choose to talk about it or not.

So, no, it doesn’t merely seem improbable - it’s impossible; it’s incoherent. If anything is an illusion here, it isn’t intentionality, but the idea that intentionality could ever be eliminated.

You seem to be confusing eliminating the term with denying the existence of what the term is about. Eliminative materialism doesn’t just say we shouldn’t talk about intentionality; it says intentionality doesn’t exist. (In any case, we would lose something if we eliminated the use of the term “life”, assuming another word didn’t immediately take over its role - we would lose the ability to talk about all of those specifically biological processes together as instances of a general phenomenon; more simply put, we would lose the ability to make any distinction between life and non-life.)

Moreover, I believe you are incorrect in your understanding of the relationship between these ideas. Vitalism did not equate life with the “vital force”, but rather sought to explain life by reference to such; it presupposed a distinction between life and non-life that anti-vitalism shares when it says that no, life can be explained in wholly material terms. So once again, the proper analogies are:

  • Vitalism (life exists, can’t be explained in material terms) :: dualism
  • Anti-vitalism (life exists, can be explained in material terms) :: non-eliminative forms of physicalism
  • “Anti-biologism” (life doesn’t exist) :: eliminative materialism

(Of course there is some room for nuance in all of this - e.g., I get the impression that Rosenberg is taking an eliminativist stance about intentionality but maybe takes some other physicalist stance about other mental phenomena, such as qualia. Not that I think that helps him; as far as the argument in this thread goes, Feser regards qualia as more of an instance of materiality than immateriality, albeit still irreducible to physics.)

Rosenberg does not deny that it appears very convincing to us that intentionality exists, nor that our language, having largely arisen and evolved on the premise the intentionality exists, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to avoid speaking in terms that suggest intentionality.

This does not amount to an argument or evidence for the existence of intentionality, and so far you have yet to provide anything in its favour other than your unwavering conviction that it exists.


That is as absurd as saying the following:

It is impossible for conscious experience to be merely illusory (in the sense of only appearing to exist), because an illusion is a conscious experience. There cannot be illusions without conscious experience.

In the same way, it is impossible for intentionality to be merely illusory, because an illusion of intentionality would itself have intentional content. The only way it can seem like something is about something else is if the subject of that experience actually can think about that something else. (E.g., if some pieces of driftwood washed up on a beach and happened to end up shaped like “CATS”, the driftwood wouldn’t actually be about cats - and it couldn’t seem like it was about cats except to a conscious subject that used “CATS” to refer to cats. The illusion of intentionality presupposes real intentionality in the subject.)

So there simply cannot be illusions of intentionality if intentionality does not exist. (Not to mention that arguably, all illusions feature intentionality in the form of a reflexive judgement that something is true which turns out to be false - truth and falsehood being terms that inextricably involve meanings, which are intentional.)

Going all the way back to your optical illusion:

Claiming that intentionality doesn’t exist and that its appearance is illusory is like claiming that different shades of grey don’t exist, citing the optical illusion as an example. The illusion of different shades of grey is only possible because different shades of grey do exist, as the animation well illustrates. And in the same vein, an illusion of intentionality is impossible if intentionality does not exist.

I am not saying, as you are suggesting, that intentionality must exist because it appears so convincingly that it exists, or because it is so very difficult to speak as if it does not exist. I am saying it must exist because a mere illusion of intentionality is impossible; in this case, the illusion implies the reality. That is not just expressing “unwavering conviction” that intentionality exists, but rather a consequence of what an illusion is and what intentionality is.

Your post is also as absurd as saying this:

Even without the incoherence objection, the pervasiveness of intentionality in our experience is more than sufficient to accept it as a feature of reality, much as it is completely rational to believe in the reality of the external world even without some argument that our experiences reflect such a reality. Merely saying “the external world might be an illusion!” does nothing to justify such skepticism. Nor does saying “intentionality might be an illusion!” do anything to actually show that such a claim could even possibly be true. In both cases, it seems to me the burden of proof is rightly on the skeptic.

Could someone define “intentionality”? I’d like to know whether I think it exists.

In philosophical usage - intentionality is the property of being “of” or “about” something (in the way that at least common sense takes a thought or a sentence to be about something).

In what way does intentionality differ from meaning?

I don’t see why that is the case.

There is now evidence for the existence of the “Jennifer Aniston Neuron.” You can tell whether someone is “thinking about” Jennifer Aniston if this particular neuron is activated. (You have to be thinking about her on her own, however. If you think of her with Brad Pitt, for example, the neuron is not activated.)

So how does this pertain to our discussion? If you can tell when someone is “thinking about” Jennifer Aniston simply by observing his brain scan, in what sense does this actually imply intentionality? The act of “thinking about Jennifer Aniston” is simply the downstream outcome of a particular pattern of neural activity, just as when one withdraws one’s hand from a hot stove at the experience of pain. There is no “aboutness” at any level of either physical process.

So what conclusions ought we draw from this? Your conclusion is that intentionality must exist, and since it cannot be accounted for in material terms, it must have an immaterial origin. But the eliminativist response is that intentionality simply does not exist, so let’s figure out what is actually going on here.

I see both as equally radical propositions, with two differences: Immateriality has been a belief permeating human culture for as long as we can trace back, so the radical nature (the degree to which it is inconsistent with our everyday experience) has been obscured. Secondly, while the immaterialists see their answer as a conclusion that leads only to further theological and metaphysical musings, the eliminatvists see their response as a challenge to be answered by future scientific investigation.

Well- Spoiler alert! - that is exactly were Rosenberg ends up. The final section of his paper suggests that eliminativism undermines not only our traditional understanding of the mind, but in fact undermines our very understanding of concepts like “truth” and “falseness”, and suggests that one should instead use terms like “eurt” and “eslaf” when speaking as an eliminativist to emphasize the fact that these very concepts are not to be assumed. The challenge, and promise, is to resolve some of the intractible philosophical questions and paradoxes that arise when we try to understand and define what the term “truth” really means.

But, in a sense, those shades of grey do not exist. We can, instead, reduce the experience we have of looking at that illusion to the behaviour of photons as they reach our retina, and the subsequent physicochemical processes that follow in our nervous system. The very concept of “shades of grey” need not be invoked anywhere in this.

The difference here is that the assumption of the existence of an external physical world has led to our formulating ever more successful theories and models that describe and predict how that world (appears to) behave. Whereas, Rosenberg contends, the better we understand the brain the less convincing the evidence becomes that intentionality plays any role in how it functions. It appears to me you agree with this to some extent, but therefore conclude that intentionality has nothing to do with the brain. It comes from something else. The eliminativists will say, until someone comes up with a good account of how the immaterial gives rise to intentionality that is as robust as the models we have for physiological process occurring in our body, they are quite justified in concluding that the difficulty in accounting for intentionality in physical terms indicates that it is not something that exists at all.

In some ways the difference could probably be considered a matter of emphasis. There is significant overlap - things that have meanings (thoughts, beliefs, sentences, etc) are instances of intentionality (all of them are about the object or state of affairs described by the meaning). But something like an intent to act a certain way, or a desire for something to come about, are also instances of intentionality even though they aren’t associated with meanings in quite the same way. An intent represents some state of affairs as a goal or outcome, as a belief represents some state of affairs as reality; it’s the “representation” aspect that makes them both instances of intentionality.

As I understand it, intentionality is the ground or basis of meaning. That is to say, our thoughts are “about” something (intentionality), and then we utter sounds or write symbols that are able to convey what our thoughts are “about” (meaning).

So intentionality is the quality of having intent?

Does any other species display intentionality?

First and most obviously, the study does not show that you can tell when someone is thinking about Jennifer Aniston (hereafter JA) simply by observing their brain scan. It shows that at least in some cases, a specific neuron firing is correlated with seeing images of JA. (In the closest case, a neuron was correlated both with seeing images of Halle Berry and with seeing her name in writing.) But you can think about someone without seeing an image of them (or without seeing their name) - there’s no evidence here that the same neuron would have fired on every occasion that the subject was thinking about JA.

In fact, this same study suggests it is quite likely the same neuron does not fire every time the subject thinks about JA - as you remarked, it didn’t fire when the subject was shown images of her and Brad Pitt together, but only when they were shown images of JA alone. But surely it is quite possible that the subject still recognized and briefly thought about JA whenever they were shown her image, with Brad Pitt or not.

But even if it did turn out that that specific neuron fired if and only if the subject thought about JA, that would not in any way show that the “thinking about” was illusory, nor even that it was simply the downstream outcome of that neural activity. All it would show was a correlation between a particular brain state and a particular mental state - not exactly a shocking revelation to any side of the debate. But correlation does not prove causation, much less identity - and much less that one of the correlates doesn’t exist!

(Not to mention that the evidence for this scenario would have to include things like “neuron activated when subject was asked to think about JA”, “neuron activated and subject confirmed that they were thinking about JA at that time” etc, it would be rather bizzare to conclude from all this that the subject was not actually thinking about JA - how does that follow at all?)

Even if it were shown that stimulating that specific neuron caused the subject to think about JA, that still wouldn’t show that there was no intentionality, just that there were cases where intentional mental states can be induced by neural stimulation. (The comparison with the pain reflex does nothing for your case here. Some philosophers think pain is an intentional state, by being in some sense “about” the part of the body that hurts. Even if it isn’t, it doesn’t rule out intentionality of other mental states, even ones caused by neural stimulation.)

Well, I can agree with you there, with special emphasis on “physical”.

My conclusion is that intentionality does exist, based on experience (I know I can think about things, and I can know what I am thinking about) and the incoherence argument. You and I agree that intentionality cannot be accounted for in material terms. The only rational thing at this point is for me to conclude that intentionality is immaterial.

Which is a completely unsubstantiated assertion, leading to flat-out absurd conclusions.

I completely disagree. The immateriality of the intellect is not at all inconsistent with everyday experience. It is only inconsistent with the philosophical assumptions by which you are interpreting your everyday experience.

(In particular I think some version of hylomorphic dualism conforms extremely well to everyday experience, once one understands the underlying philosophical concepts, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. Just note that not all dualism is Cartesian.)

Not sure what’s wrong with the immaterialist side here even if your characterization is accurate (which I do not concede). But the eliminativist side is nonsensical, given that they think that scientific investigation is an illusion. (Can’t have scientific investigation without intentionality.) It isn’t a challenge to be answered by future scientific investigation; it’s a promissory note (“maybe one day we’ll figure out how this could all work!”) that they can give no reason to believe will ever be fulfilled.

Yeah, wasn’t a spoiler; I’m well aware of the completely absurd implications of eliminativism.

Is eliminative materialism true? No. According to EM, there is no truth. Is it false? Nope, no such thing as falsehood either. Just forget about the law of excluded middle, or the law of non-contradiction for that matter. Can’t assume those concepts, especially since there’s no such thing as concepts.

The correct thing to say is that eliminative materialism is antithetical to all logic and reason.

You are aware that, according to EM, you can’t understand what the term “truth” really means because understanding and meaning are instances of intentionality, and therefore don’t exist?

If there is nothing more than physics, than yes, there’s no need to invoke shades of grey, or any species of qualia. But that is begging the question. When you actually try to account for the subjective experiences of the subjects looking at the illusion, it’s a different story. As I said earlier - you can talk about brain functioning and behaviour all you want; it doesn’t bridge the “hard problem of consciousness”. (Not only that - the ontological problem - but you have a severe epistemological problem as well; the subjective experience those shades of grey are part of is the conduit through which all your supposed evidence for their non-existence came to you. If what your senses most obviously reveal to you doesn’t actually exist, what grounds do you have to believe what you are inferring from them?)

But by all means, feel free to take a “consistent” stance and be eliminativist about qualia as well as intentionality. It makes my first “not quite Faizal” quote from earlier not even a parody, and fortifies the reductio against such a position even further.

Given that theories, models, descriptions, and predictions are instances of intentionality, I say the success of science gives us just as much reason to believe in intentionality as it does to believe in the external world. So I deny there is a difference on that count.

(Moreover, I would say that just a few more “assumptions” - I would call them something more like “first principles” - go into that success, and that among the other rational consequences of those principles are things like the immateriality of the intellect and even the existence of God. Of course, that would take us back to our earlier discussion about scientism.)

I wouldn’t say I agree with that. But I suppose it depends on what you mean by “functions”. If (tendentiously) what you mean only involves the physical processes, then of course it won’t look like intentionality plays a role, because physics doesn’t describe things in those terms. But if you want to know more than just what neurons are firing when - if you want to know how those neurons relate to our subjective experiences and intellectual activity - that understanding cannot avoid reference to qualia and intentionality, and (because of arguments such as the one in this thread) some form of immaterial reality.

In my view, a hypothetical “complete physical account” of the brain would be a bit like watching a game of hockey without any inkling of the rules or conventions of hockey or even of sports in general. You would see the players and the puck moving around the rink, but you’d be missing the whole point. Your description of what was going on would be correct as far as it goes, but radically incomplete. Intentionality is to the brain processes here like the rules are to the hockey game; necessary not only for a complete description and understanding of the situation, but also for a complete explanation for why things are playing out the way they are. (There’s my attempt at an illustration of how hylomorphic dualism handles things.)

This is just (again, tendentiously) expecting immaterial realities to conform to the mold of material ones, as if intentionality must emerge from some kind of immaterial microstructure the way material things are built out of fundamental particles. But the dualist has no need to hold this kind of reductionistic position, and as I’ve already indicated a while back in this thread, related to the argument for the immateriality of the intellect is an argument that the semantic content of our thoughts is non-reducible. Meanings can be derived from meanings, but not from non-meanings; intentionality is just a primitive feature of (at least some of) our mental states. (And that actually does get you about as “robust” of an account as one could ever ask for.)

Feser argues for this account in the article where he lays out the main argument of this thread; starting on page 26, look for the words sui generis.

For my own 2 cents here I see nothing extreme or skeptical about what Faizal described there. That is a fairly common understanding of what it means to say you know something.

And I have to reject your understanding of Faizal’s statements as saying science doesn’t give us knowledge, he just rejects the notion that science gives us certainty in our knowledge. That is he rejects the idea that knowledge has to be justified in some absolute sense of the word justification. That is definitely not unusual, extreme, or skeptical. In fact I would reject the notion that a “justified true belief” definition of knowledge is common sense.

Yes. It would be, I agree. A dictionary has no intrinsic meaning. It only has meaning in a context where someone understands what it says, and then only when someone reads it. It doesn’t just sit there and “has meaning” all on it’s own.

It simply does not make sense to me, to say that something has intrinsic meaning. That I can tell meaning is derivative, it can’t be intrinsic. I literally can’t make sense of what it means to say that a dictionary has intrinsic meaning. There could then be a dictionary on a shelf sitting somewhere and it just sort of sits there and “has meaning”. What are we saying about the dictionary? What is this attribute that it has even in the absence of anyone who understands it?

It seems to me the only way to make sense of that is that it’s meaning only emerges when someone is around to read and understand it and, in a sense, whatever meaning it has is only when it is being read in the same way that a codon doesn’t just sit there and mean anything all by itself. It is only when it interacts with the other translation system components it’s meaning “exists”. In that spatio-temporal interaction.
But then that implies that it’s meaning was derivative all along, and only when someone(on in the case of the translation system, some thing) reads it can there be said to be meaning in it. Of course ultimately, even saying the meaning “in it” is a sort of misnomer, since the meaning isn’t actually inside the book somewhere. It’s derivative of an interaction. And that is then what we mean (heh) when we talk of something having meaning. It has a particular type of interaction in space and time.

No actually I disagree completely. I do think you’re actually thinking about the way in which the cat was picked up by your senses. When you “think about the cat”, you can say you’re thinking about “the cat” in some sort of conceptual way, but what you’re really thinking about is your experiences of the cat in the way it was available to your senses. Typically those are the experiences of images of something. Those will be what you are experiencing when thinking about the cat. What it looks like.

I mean I can only tell you how I experience my own thoughts here, and when I think of (say) my mom’s dog for example, I’m not thinking of “my mom’s dog” in some nebulous concept devoid of physical experience, I’m having images and other related sensory experiences recalled. Upon the name of it I basically just get an image of it flash by.

As I sit here and try to challenge myself to think of some thing or person, I don’t even seem to be able to have thoughts about them without getting these images flash by in my mind. I try to think about something like a person I know, who I know to be frustrated with another person, and as this thought occurs to me I literally experience an image of this person’s face with a frustrated expression. A series of physical behaviors they might have exhibited in space and time. A face, sounds they made, in relation to some other event that occurred around them. The more I think about it the more it becomes clear to me that thoughts about things are primarily in shapes and colors and about interactions between objects in space and time. My fridge, my mom’s dog, people I know. It’s all images. Shapes and colors, and their interactions in space and time.

So I’ll just say that of course I can have thoughts “about a cat” even if I don’t know what it’s called if I have seen a cat. I can then recall those visual experiences and my thoughts about “the cat” will then simply be to have visual experiences of it. What it looked like to me.

If I haven’t seen a cat, I would need some other description of it in terms of other experiences I have had. I can’t be explained a color I have never seen. Much less in a language I have never learned. Because their meanings are not intrinsic, but derivative of interactions in space and time.

I genuinely do not understand how that is even a question. We see surfaces because that’s how our brain interprets the light. The light that enters my brain forms an image of my surroundings, of which the cat is merely a part, and where it has a shape, color, and outline that made it possible for my visual cortex to distinguish light that left the surface of the cat from light that left the surface of what was behind and around it. Incidentally if the cat had blended in perfectly with it’s surroundings, I would not have been able to detect it visually and would not then be able to have thoughts about it (by which we, I would say, really just mean having visual experiences of it’s shape and behavior).

In that way I think physicalism actually has an advantage as then it actually explains why we can’t spontaneously have thoughts about a cat we can’t distinguish from it’s surroundings. Because, in fact, thoughts, words, and their “meanings” don’t just form spontaneously without physical cause. They are physical interactions in space and time.

If you’re asking in some philosophical sense whether I think thoughts about the cat are really “about the cat”, rather than the light that left it’s surface, I’d say in so far as my thoughts are the experience of the image of the cat then the distinction is meaningless. Of course since I deny that meaning is intrinsic to the words (or the thought) but is derivative of interaction, then I’m really just agreeing in the end that thoughts are not about the cat in the sense you think. But then it really all just comes down to this idea of whether meaning even can be intrinsic, and I don’t think it can. I don’t see how it could be and it makes no sense to me to say that a book could just sit somewhere and mean something. In a way by insisting meaning is immaterial is to insist the book, in fact, doesn’t have meaning at all. The book doesn’t have something that isn’t part of it. Because a book is a material thing, and you’re literally positing something extra beyond the material. The book and “it’s” non-material meaning that somehow is independent of the physical book.

I suppose in the end you might say this is actually to concede the point, but then all I want to say back is I don’t think there is any problem physicalism is supposed to explain here. I just think you’re making a mistake by saying we need to explain something that you haven’t actually shown even exists.

But I think I can do even better. I think I can show the problem is worse for you than it is for me. Consider that if the meaning is immmaterial then by what criterion is the meaning that of the book, and not that of a rock somewhere, or the shelf the book sits on? It seems to me you can only say the book has meaning by reference to how interpreters of the book interacts with the book and don’t interact in the same way with the rock, or the shelf the book sits on. But that would be to concede that meaning must be derivative. An interaction in space and time.

Never mind species, the behaviour many inanimate objects can be usefully predicted if they are presumed to have intentionality:

Microsoft Word - dennett_ready_for_CE 2.doc (

Isn’t it the case that saying « I would like something » manifests intentionality?

Does something have to be conscious to manifest intentionality?

Hard to tell without a definition of the term.

Not exactly. I do agree that the theory of intentionality that you are here defending likely cannot be demonstrated in material terms. This does not mean that the phenomenon that is referred to by the term “intentionality” cannot or will not be accounted for by a physicalist understanding of the mind. Which points out what I believe is a misunderstanding on your part that is leading us to talk past one another.

“Intentionality” is being used in two different senses, as I have already implied here: As a mental phenomenon that we experience subjectively, and as a theory that purports to explain that phenomenon in terms of mental content such as beliefs, desires, etc. It is the latter that eliminativists are questioning, not necessarily the former.

Many of your arguments are based on the misperception that eliminativists are contradicting themselves when they acknowledge the existence of the phenomenon of intentionality. But this is no more incoherent than acknowledging that the sun appears to move across the sky each day while denying the belief that it actually does so.

There is also nothing incoherent or contradictory about eliminativists using the language of beliefs, theories, etc. when they make their arguments. Rosenberg uses as an analogy (borrowed from P. Churchland) the Ptolemaic model of the solar system which, though wrong in many essential respects, nonetheless remained useful and reasonably accurate. There would have been nothing absurd or incoherent about a Ptolemaic astronomer complaining that the system was excessively complex and didn’t actually work all that well, while continuing to use the model rather than just sitting around doing nothing until Copernicus came along. The Ptolemaic system would still have been the best thing available, and if one wished to work as an astronomer and communicate with colleagues, one would have had little choice but to use it. Similarly, there is nothing incoherent about an eliminativiist continuing to use the language of beliefs, desires, etc. while maintaining that these concepts are fundamentally flawed and ought to eventually be replaced with something better.

I think our disagreements can be largely reduced to these two points alone.