Having given Searle's 2015 book (Seeing things as the are) a quick read, to me he seems like he's really (mostly) espousing intentionalism but he calls his position "direct realism". He gives for example a fairly standard "intentionalist" diagram of why someone sees a hallucination, and then writes:
Figure 1.3. Hallucination. The internal processes in the brain are sufficient to produce a visual experience which is type identical with the visual experience produced by the external stimulus. The visual experience has the same intentional content as the veridical experience, but there is no object of the visual experience.
I believe these diagrams are accurate, but they can be dangerously misleading if they suggest that the internal visual experience is itself an object of perception. Supposing that the internal experiences are themselves objects of perception is one of the major mistakes that this book aims to overcome. The subjective visual experience cannot itself be seen, because it is itself the seeing of anything.
Actually, I hope the account so far seems obvious to the point that you wonder why I am boring you with these platitudes. But here is the amazing thing: The account I just gave you is denied by just about every famous philosopher who writes on this subject. Indeed of the philosophers that have written about perception since the seventeenth century, I do not know of any Great Philosopher who even accepted Naïve or Direct Realism. (“Great Philosophers” in this period begin with Bacon and Descartes and end with Kant. They include Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, Berkeley, Bacon and Hume. If someone wants to count Mill and Hegel as Great Philosophers, I will not argue the point.)
Most of his book devoted to refuting the argument from illusion (which Searle calls the Bad Argument in his book, to emphasize how misleading he thinks that is.) He argues mostly from a linguistic perspective that when someone says they "see" a hallucination that's just bad/misleading use of language, e.g.
At the most fundamental level the entire [Bad] argument rests on a pun, a simple fallacy of ambiguity, over the use of the English expressions “aware of” and “conscious of.” The proof that the same expression is being used with two different senses is that the semantics is different. Consider sentences of the form: “Subject S has an awareness A of object O.” In the intentionality sense, that has the consequence: A is not identical with O. A ≠ O. In the intentionality sense: A is an ontologically subjective event that presents the existence and features of O as its conditions of satisfaction. But in the constitution or identity sense: A is identical with O. The thing that one is “aware of” is the awareness itself (A = O).
Strictly speaking, the Argument from Illusion rests on a fallacy of ambiguity. But it would be misleading if I give the reader the impression that that is an ambiguity like the ambiguity in the word “bank” in “I went to the bank,” which can mean either “I went to a finance house” or “I went to the side of the river.” The ambiguity in “aware of” and “conscious of” is not at all like that. They are not two different dictionary meanings, as there are for “bank,” rather because there is a common phenomenon to both the hallucination and the veridical perception. The temptation is to treat the visual experience itself as the object of the visual experience in the case of the hallucination, but in fact there is no such object. English and other European languages allow us to make this mistake because we can always invent an internal accusative for the verb phrase. It is a good example of Wittgenstein’s claim that philosophical problems typically arise when we misunderstand the logic of our language. But the example is not an example of lexical ambiguity. The linguists’ test of conjunction reduction shows this: “I am aware of the table” and “I am aware of a sensation in my hand” imply “I am aware of both the table and the sensation in my hand.”
The reason we feel an urge to put sneer quotes around “see” when we describe hallucinatory “seeing” is that, in the sense of intentionality, in such cases we do not see anything. If I am having a visual hallucination of the book on the table, then literally I do not see anything. Since I am “aware of” something, the temptation is to put in a noun phrase to form the direct object of “see.” We compound the ambiguity of “aware of” by introducing an ambiguity of “see.” This shift from describing the ontologically objective state of affairs in the world to describing the ontologically subjective conscious intentional state itself underlies the whole epistemological tradition. The mistake derives from a failure to understand the intentionality of conscious perceptual experience. How exactly? There is obviously something in common between the veridical perception and the indistinguishable hallucination. They are, after all, indistinguishable. If you fail to see that the something in common is a conscious intentional experience with conditions of satisfaction, you are likely to think that the something in common is itself the object of perception. That is, if you fail to understand the intentionality of the experience, you are likely to think the experience is the object of the experience in the hallucinatory case. In the diagram the hallucination is shown with the same type of visual experience and the same intentional content, but no intentional object and only internal causes. This shift is to move from the object-directed intentionality of the perceptual experience to treating the visual experience itself as the object of visual consciousness. I do indeed have a conscious experience when I see the table, but the conscious experience is of the table. The conscious experience is also an entity, but it is not the object of perception; it is indeed the experience itself of perceiving. [...]
The assumption that some authors make is that every intentional state must have an object, but this is confusion between the true claim that every intentional state must have a content and the false claim that every intentional state must have an object. It is just false that all intentional states have objects. Some authors even postulate an “intentional object” as a special kind of object for unsatisfied intentional states. So, for example, if the child believes his father comes home in the evening, the intentional object of his belief is his father. If he believes Santa Claus comes on Christmas Eve, his belief has no intentional object; it has a content but no object. Some philosophers find that uncomfortable and so they say there is a special kind of intentional object for intentional states about nonexistent entities. I hope it is obvious that this is a confusion.
But he does seem (see e.g. last para above) to have a shade of difference in that he rejects one kind of intentionalist account, in which one would assign an "object" (a mental/intentional "object") to every intention. But is this enough to call his position something other than intentionalism, which e.g. IEP describes as:
Let us see how the intentionalist reacts to the argument from illusion. The key claim will be that representational states can be in error. I can have false beliefs: I can believe that my cup is full when it is not; and I can have beliefs about non-existent entities: I can believe that the Tooth Fairy visited me last night. Such beliefs are analogous to the non-veridical perceptual cases of illusion and hallucination. In both belief and perception, the world is represented to be a certain way that it is not. And, crucially, the intentionalist has an account of what such veridical and non-veridical cases have in common: their intentional content. My perception has the representational content, there is a bent pencil there, whether or not there really is such a pencil in the world (I might have been duped and an actual bent pencil placed in the glass). In the veridical case this content correctly represents the world; in the non-veridical case it does not. Intentionalists, therefore, agree with sense datum theorists that there is an aspect of perception that is shared by the veridical and the non-veridical cases. This shared component, however, is not the presence of a perceptual object, but rather, that of a certain intentional content. Therefore, both intentionalists and sense datum theorists can be seen as providing representational accounts of perception: intentional content and the sense data of the indirect realist represent the state of the independent external world. Intentionalists, however, have representation without an ontological commitment to mental objects.
So, I wonder if any other academic, book reviewers etc. came to the same conclusion in that regard, i.e. is Searle just relabelling intentionalism as "Direct Realism"?
Or is it proper to say that there are (at least two?) kinds of intentionalism, and Searle is trying to distinguish the realist one (from the other) by saying that all intentions have "a content but no object" and that there are no "intentional object[s] for intentional states about nonexistent entities"? Calling a mental/brain process "an object" is itself weird from a neuroscience perspective, but I guess [some] philosophers like to call everything, including processes, "objects"? Is Searle arguing against a straw man here? IEP doesn't seem to acknowledge that any intentionalist would say that [the content of] intentions are (reasonably called) objects. But maybe there are non-realist intentionalists? (Searle himself doesn't exemplify with any.)