Introduction I am trying to understand how ideas and concepts are generated and manipulated in networks of neurons; I want to understand how we think. You probably share my curiosity and believe that the human brain creates and processes mental objects like the ideas and concepts that make up thoughts. We probably also agree that a key to understanding these mental processes is to understand how neurons represent abstract information. It is less certain we agree on what to do to discover how neurons represent this sort of information. While I suspect we will get quite far by studying mental processes in animals, I admit that I don't know whether or not animals have ideas, concepts, and thoughts. Such open questions do not invalidate the quest to understand thought because the pursuit is founded on the conviction that mental objects are properties of neural systems and that the neural systems in the human brain are fundamentally similar to the systems in the fascinating brains of lower mammals like the laboratory rat. If we restrict the discussion to the non-moral question of how neurons give rise to thought, then the question of animal mentalism need not be asked, because the answer is not important for directing a rigorous scientific effort to understand the neurophysiology of thought.
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