John Searle, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Has Been Writing for Years and Years on the Quandaries of the Brain-Mind-Consciousness Connections

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John Searle, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, has been writing for years and years on the quandaries of the brain-mind-consciousness connections. We have what I expect are basic disagreements, but he is always instructive. His most recent book is Freedom and Neurobiology (Columbia University Press), and it is reviewed by David Papineau, a philosopher at King's College, London, in the Times Literary Supplement. A strength of Searle's approach is that he is attentive to thinking and consciousness, as we experience thinking and consciousness. This is sometimes called a commonsensical approach, and Papineau doesn't think much of it. "Common sense is all very well," he writes, "but it has many strands, and they aren't always internally consistent, especially when they need to be squared with the findings of science." Ah yes, the findings of science. Searle is critical of the vulgar reductionism by which mind is exhaustively explained by reference to neural synapses in the pound of thinking meat that is the brain. He says that consciousness is "causally reducible" to the physical world but is not "ontologically reducible. …