There are, however, serious problems with this account. For one thing, resemblance is ubiquitous, and any brain state [hereafter BNS] resembles multiple objects. Some of my brain states will resemble some of your brain states, but surely it does not follow that my brain states represent your brain states. In order to have any plausibility the advocate of this account must identify the kind of resemblance relations that underwrite mental content, and that has proven very difficult to do. A second problem is that we can think about all manner of things that do not resemble brain states in any way.
In what sense could the mental symbols [hereafter MLSL] for
<beauty>, <truth>, and <justice>possibly resemble the properties of beauty, truth, and justice? [1.] Thirdly, and perhaps most fundamentally, it is not at all clear how mere resemblance might explain why a mental symbol has the meaning that it does. [End of 1.] [2.] Even if a brain state does happen to resemble (in some relevant sense) a certain feature of the world, it is
utterly mysteriouswhy this fact should entail that it represents that feature of the world. [End of 2.]
I must be missing or misunderstanding something, because 1 and 2 appear obvious to me.
About 1: If a MLSL resembles a real object, then how can the MLSL not mean what it does (i.e. resemblance of the real object)? E.g., of the spectacle below, I will likely forget everything except the 3 main subjects: the lodge juxtaposed before the mountains and trees, and behind the bridge over water. But (remembering) this deficient MLSL still enables me to remember the location, photograph, and how to retrieve the photograph.
About 2: If my BNS is the aforesaid MLSL, then how is it
utterly mysteriousthat the MLSL would represent the photograph?