John Searle's Speech Acts and Expression and Meaning developed a highly original and influential approach to the study of language. But behind both works lay the assumption that the philosophy of language is in the end a branch of the philosophy of the mind: speech acts are forms of human action and represent just one example of the mind's capacity to relate the human organism to the world. The present book is concerned with these biologically fundamental capacities, and, though third (...) in the sequence, in effect it provides the philosophical foundations for the other two. Intentionality is taken to be the crucial mental phenomenon, and its analysis involves wide-ranging discussions of perception, action, causation, meaning, and reference. In all these areas John Searle has original and stimulating views. He ends with a resolution of the 'mind-body' problem. (shrink)
The title of The Rediscovery of the Mind suggests the question "When was the mind lost?" Since most people may not be aware that it ever was lost, we must also then ask "Who lost it?" It was lost, of course, only by philosophers, by certain philosophers. This passed unnoticed by society at large. The "rediscovery" is also likely to pass unnoticed. But has the mind been rediscovered by the same philosophers who "lost" it? Probably not. John Searle is an (...) analytic philosopher, with some of the same notions as the positivists and behaviorists who rejected consciousness and "lost" the mind in the first place, but he also does not sound like the kind of reductionist who would have joined that crowd. His views, indeed, are sensible enough, and some of his insights so important, that it is a shame to find his thought profoundly limited by some of the same mistakes and prejudices that ruined philosophy, and not just philosophy of mind, under the influence of those positivists and behaviorists. There is enough of genuine value in his treatment, that it can easily be taken up and, with relatively slight modification, added to what is of permanent value in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
The renowned philosopher John Searle reveals the fundamental nature of social reality. What kinds of things are money, property, governments, nations, marriages, cocktail parties, and football games? Searle explains the key role played by language in the creation, constitution, and maintenance of social reality. We make statements about social facts that are completely objective, for example: Barack Obama is President of the United States, the piece of paper in my hand is a twenty-dollar bill, I got married in London, etc. (...) And yet these facts only exist because we think they exist. How is it possible that we can have factual objective knowledge of a reality that is created by subjective opinions? This is part of a much larger question: How can we give an account of ourselves, with our peculiar human traits DS mind, reason, freedom, society - in a world that we know independently consists of mindless, meaningless particles? How can we account for our social and mental existence in a realm of brute physical facts? In answering this question, Searle avoids postulating different realms of being, a mental and a physical, or worse yet, a mental, a physical, and a social. There is just one reality: Searle shows how the human reality fits into that one reality. Mind, language, and civilization are natural products of the basic facts of the physical world described by physics, chemistry and biology. Searle explains how language creates and maintains the elaborate structures of human social institutions. These institutions serve to create and distribute power relations that are pervasive and often invisible. These power relations motivate human actions in a way that provides the glue that holds human civilization together. Searle shows how this account illuminates human rationality, free will, political power, and human rights. Our social world is a world created and maintained by language. (shrink)
What psychological and philosophical significance should we attach to recent efforts at computer simulations of human cognitive capacities? In answering this question, I find it useful to distinguish what I will call "strong" AI from "weak" or "cautious" AI. According to weak AI, the principal value of the computer in the study of the mind is that it gives us a very powerful tool. For example, it enables us to formulate and test hypotheses in a more rigorous and precise fashion. (...) But according to strong AI, the computer is not merely a tool in the study of the mind; rather, the appropriately programmed computer really is a mind, in the sense that computers given the right programs can be literally said to. (shrink)
The purpose of this book -- Intentionality -- Collective intentionality and the assignment of function -- Language as biological and social -- The general theory of institutions and institutional facts: -- Language and social reality -- Free will, rationality, and institutional facts -- Power : deontic, background, political, and other -- Human rights -- Concluding remarks : the ontological foundations of the social sciences.
The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls the Classical Model of rationality and shows why they are false. He then presents an alternative theory of the role of rationality in thought and action. -/- A central point of Searle's theory is that only irrational actions are directly caused by beliefs and desires—for example, the actions of (...) a person in the grip of an obsession or addiction. In most cases of rational action, there is a gap between the motivating desire and the actual decision making. The traditional name for this gap is "freedom of the will." According to Searle, all rational activity presupposes free will. For rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options. -/- Unlike many philosophical tracts, Rationality in Action invites the reader to apply the author's ideas to everyday life. Searle shows, for example, that contrary to the traditional philosophical view, weakness of will is very common. He also points out the absurdity of the claim that rational decision making always starts from a consistent set of desires. Rational decision making, he argues, is often about choosing between conflicting reasons for action. In fact, humans are distinguished by their ability to be rationally motivated by desire-independent reasons for action. Extending his theory of rationality to the self, Searle shows how rational deliberation presupposes an irreducible notion of the self. He also reveals the idea of free will to be essentially a thesis of how the brain works. (shrink)
"The philosophy of mind is unique among contemporary philosophical subjects," writes John Searle, "in that all of the most famous and influential theories are false." In Mind, Searle dismantles these famous and influential theories as he presents a vividly written, comprehensive introduction to the mind. Here readers will find one of the world's most eminent thinkers shedding light on the central concern of modern philosophy. Searle begins with a look at the twelve problems of philosophy of mind--which he calls "Descartes (...) and Other Disasters"--problems which he returns to throughout the volume, as he illuminates such topics as the freedom of the will, the actual operation of mental causation, the nature and functioning of the unconscious, the analysis of perception, and the concept of the self. One of the key chapters is on the mind-body problem, which Searle analyzes brilliantly. He argues that all forms of consciousness--from feeling thirsty to wondering how to translate Mallarme--are caused by the behavior of neurons and are realized in the brain system, which is itself composed of neurons. But this does not mean that consciousness is nothing but neuronal behavior. The main point of having the concept of consciousness, Searle points out, is to capture the first person subjective features of the phenomenon and this point is lost if we redefine consciousness in third person objective terms. Described as a "dragonslayer by temperament," John Searle offers here a refreshingly direct and open discussion of philosophy, one that skewers accepted wisdom even as it offers striking new insights into the nature of consciousness and the mind. (shrink)
Cognitive science typically postulates unconscious mental phenomena, computational or otherwise, to explain cognitive capacities. The mental phenomena in question are supposed to be inaccessible in principle to consciousness. I try to show that this is a mistake, because all unconscious intentionality must be accessible in principle to consciousness; we have no notion of intrinsic intentionality except in terms of its accessibility to consciousness. I call this claim the The argument for it proceeds in six steps. The essential point is that (...) intrinsic intentionality has aspectual shape: Our mental representations represent the world under specific aspects, and these aspectual features are essential to a mental state's being the state that it is. (shrink)
John Searle's Speech Acts made a highly original contribution to work in the philosophy of language. Expression and Meaning is a direct successor, concerned to develop and refine the account presented in Searle's earlier work, and to extend its application to other modes of discourse such as metaphor, fiction, reference, and indirect speech arts. Searle also presents a rational taxonomy of types of speech acts and explores the relation between the meanings of sentences and the contexts of their utterance. The (...) book points forward to a larger theme implicit in these problems - the basis certain features of speech have in the intentionality of mind, and even more generally, the relation of the philosophy of language to the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive account of the intentionality of perceptual experience. With special emphasis on vision Searle explains how the raw phenomenology of perception sets the content and the conditions of satisfaction of experience.
Part 1 of this exchange consists in a critique by Smith of Searle’s The Construction of Social Reality focusing on Searle’s use of the formula ‘X counts as Y in context C’. Smith argues that this formula works well for social objects such as dollar bills and presidents where the corresponding X terms (pieces of paper, human beings) are easy to identify. In cases such as debts and prices and money in a banks computers, however, the formula fails, because these (...) are cases of what he calls ‘free-standing Y terms’, since there is here no X which can count as the corresponding Y. In his response in Part 2, Searle argues that Smith’s critique rests on three misunderstandings: 1. in wrongly presupposing that Searle is trying to analyze the nature of what he calls “social objects”, rather than of social facts; 2. in thinking that the counts as formula is intended as a definition, rather than as a mere mnemonic; and 3. in neglecting the naturalism of Searle’s account. (shrink)
In _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ three prominent philosophers and a leading neuroscientist clash over the conceptual presuppositions of cognitive neuroscience. The book begins with an excerpt from Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker's _Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience_, which questions the conceptual commitments of cognitive neuroscientists. Their position is then criticized by Daniel Dennett and John Searle, two philosophers who have written extensively on the subject, and Bennett and Hacker in turn respond. Their impassioned debate encompasses a wide range of central themes: the (...) nature of consciousness, the bearer and location of psychological attributes, the intelligibility of so-called brain maps and representations, the notion of qualia, the coherence of the notion of an intentional stance, and the relationships between mind, brain, and body. Clearly argued and thoroughly engaging, the authors present fundamentally different conceptions of philosophical method, cognitive-neuroscientific explanation, and human nature, and their exchange will appeal to anyone interested in the relation of mind to brain, of psychology to neuroscience, of causal to rational explanation, and of consciousness to self-consciousness. In his conclusion Daniel Robinson explains why this confrontation is so crucial to the understanding of neuroscientific research. The project of cognitive neuroscience, he asserts, depends on the incorporation of human nature into the framework of science itself. In Robinson's estimation, Dennett and Searle fail to support this undertaking; Bennett and Hacker suggest that the project itself might be based on a conceptual mistake. Exciting and challenging, _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ is an exceptional introduction to the philosophical problems raised by cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)
This is a formal and systematic study of the logical foundations of speech act theory. The study of speech acts has been a flourishing branch of the philosophy of language and linguistics over the last two decades, and John Searle has of course himself made some of the most notable contributions to that study in the sequence of books Speech Acts, Expression and Meaning and Intentionality. In collaboration with Daniel Vanderveken he now presents the first formalised logic of a general (...) theory of speech acts, dealing with such things as the nature of an illocutionary force, the logical form of its components, and the conditions of success of elementary illocutionary acts. The central chapters present a systematic exposition of the axioms and general laws of illocutionary logic. (shrink)
In Mind: An Introduction, for the first time John Searle offers a general introduction to the philosophy of the mind. Giving a broad survey of all the major issues under discussion in the field, including philosophical issues in cognitive science and neurobiology, Searle argues for his own distinctive point of view. He leads the reader through the variety of theories that reduce the mind to aspects that can be fully explained by physics, and then concludes with his own view that (...) such reductionist theories ignore or cannot adequately explain the most fundamental aspect of the mind - subjective consciousness. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to explore the problem of social ontology. The form that the exploration will take is a development of the argument that I presented in The Construction of Social Realty. I will summarize some of the results of that book and then develop the ideas further.
One of the most important and influential philosophers of the last 30 years, John Searle has been concerned throughout his career with a single overarching question: how can we have a unified and theoretically satisfactory account of ourselves and of our relations to other people and to the natural world? In other words, how can we reconcile our common-sense conception of ourselves as conscious, free, mindful, rational agents in a world that we believe comprises brute, unconscious, mindless, meaningless, mute physical (...) particles in fields of force? The essays in this collection are all related to the broad overarching issue that unites the diverse strands of Searle's work. Gathering in an accessible manner essays available only in relatively obscure books and journals, this collection will be of particular value to professionals and upper-level students in philosophy as well as to Searle's more extended audience in such fields as psychology and linguistics. (shrink)
When I was an undergraduate in Oxford, we were taught economics almost as though it were a natural science. The subject matter of economics might be different from physics, but only in the way that the subject matter of chemistry or biology is different from physics. The actual results were presented to us as if they were scientific theories. So when we learned that savings equals investment, it was taught in the same tone of voice as one teaches that force (...) equals mass times acceleration. And we learned that rational entrepreneurs sell where marginal cost equals marginal revenue in the way that we once learned that bodies attract in a way that is directly proportional to the product of their mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. At no point was it ever suggested that the reality described by economic theory was dependent on human beliefs and other attitudes in a way that was totally unlike the reality described by physics or chemistry. Some years ago, when I published The Construction of Social Reality, I was aware that it had implications for the ontology of economics, but I was not aware that there had already been an important revival of the tradition of institutional economics. It would be an understatement to say that I welcome this interest in institutions; I enthusiastically support it. But I think that in the institutional literature there is still an unclarity about what exactly an institution is. What is the ontology, the mode of existence, of institutional reality? This article tries to add to this discussion. Economics as a subject matter, unlike physics or chemistry, is largely concerned with institutional facts. Facts about money and interest rates, exchange and employment, corporations and the balance of payments, form the very heart of the subject of economics. When Lionel Robbins, in a classic work, tells us that “Economics is a study of the disposal of scarce commodities,”2 he takes for granted a huge invisible institutional.... (shrink)
There are different ways to present a Presidential Address to the APA; the one I have chosen is simply to report on work that I am doing right now, on work in progress. I am going to present some of my further explorations into the computational model of the mind.\**.
The dispute between the empiricist and interpretivist conceptions of the social sciences is properly conceived not as a matter of reduction or covering laws. Features specific to the social sciences include the following. Explanations of human behavior make reference to intentional causation; social phenomena are permeated with mental components and are self-referential; social science explanations have not been as successful as those in natural science because of their concern with intentional causation, because their explanations must be identical with the propositional (...) content of the mind of the actor, and because a social phenomenon exists only if people believe it exists. Elements of an apparatus necessary to analyze this problematic social ontology are given and include selfreferentiality, constitutive rules, collective intentionality, linguistic permeation of the facts, systematic interrelationships among social facts, and primacy of acts over objects. (shrink)
Our self-conception derives mostly from our own experience. We believe ourselves to be conscious, rational, social, ethical, language-using, political agents who possess free will. Yet we know we exist in a universe that consists of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles. How can we resolve the conflict between these two visions? In _Freedom and Neurobiology_, the philosopher John Searle discusses the possibility of free will within the context of contemporary neurobiology. He begins by explaining the relationship between human reality (...) and the more fundamental reality as described by physics and chemistry. Then he proposes a neurobiological resolution to the problem by demonstrating how various conceptions of free will have different consequences for the neurobiology of consciousness. In the second half of the book, Searle applies his theory of social reality to the problem of political power, explaining the role of language in the formation of our political reality. The institutional structures that organize, empower, and regulate our lives-money, property, marriage, government-consist in the assignment and collective acceptance of certain statuses to objects and people. Whether it is the president of the United States, a twenty-dollar bill, or private property, these entities perform functions as determined by their status in our institutional reality. Searle focuses on the political powers that exist within these systems of status functions and the way in which language constitutes them. Searle argues that consciousness and rationality are crucial to our existence and that they are the result of the biological evolution of our species. He addresses the problem of free will within the context of a neurobiological conception of consciousness and rationality, and he addresses the problem of political power within the context of this analysis. A clear and concise contribution to the free-will debate and the study of cognition, _Freedom and Neurobiology_ is essential reading for students and scholars of the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This article presents a sketch of a theory of action. It does so by locating the relation of intention to action -vithin a general theory of Intentionality. It introduces a distinction between ptiorintentions and intentions in actions; the concept of the experience of acting; and the thesis that both prior intentions and intentions in action are causally self-referential. Each of these is independently motivated, but together they allow suggested solutions to several outstanding problems within action theory (deviant causal chains, the (...) accordion effect, basic actions, etc.); the demonstration of striking similarities between the logical structure of intentional action and the logical structure of perception; and the construction of an account of simple actions. A successfully performed intentional action characteristically consists of an intention in action together with the bodily movement or state of the agent which is its condition of satisfaction and which is caused by it. The account is extended to complex actions. (shrink)