Homuncular strategies for explaining mental faculties are not in fashion. Indeed, you will be laughed out of town if you are incautious with them. Dennett likes to sanction their use as long as they cash out in less-than-intelligent sub-processes, whcih have less intelligent sub-parts themselves, and so down to stupid neurons.

Oddly, while we protest at using homuncular strategies for discussing ‘parts’ of our minds (as if minds had parts), we seem happy to use them willy-nilly when discussing the affairs of nations. It seems natural, even correct, to say things like “Russia bristled”, “China objected”, “The USA wants….” etc. I think this is not accidental, and not “mere metaphor”. From where we are standing, nations seem to behave intentionally. Complex behaviour typically appears intentional. That is, it is about something. (more…)