John Searle

John Searle

John Searle

John Searle

Synopsis

The author introduces Searle's ideas in the round, while also testing and exploring their implications. It begins with an examination of Searle's work on the philosophy of language, and goes on to deal with philosophy of mind and outlines Searle's ideas on intentional states. It introduces his notions of background and network, his claims for the often unrecoginzed imporatance of consciousness, and examines his attacks on other current philosophical states of mind, such as materialism, functionalism, and strong AI.

Excerpt

John Searle was raised in the tradition of analytic philosophy, but he transcends that tradition. One reason is that he writes on a variety of topics even though his tradition encourages its supporters to focus narrowly on certain aspects of one or two topics. In his long career, Searle has written extensively on such subjects as philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, the nature and structure of social institutions, context (what he calls Network and Background), ontology, science and causality.

But beyond that, he has brought all these topics together – he has synthesized them so as to form a single “big picture” philosophic stance. As will become evident later in this work, his stance is in large part reactive. It reacts against the strong and broad based contemporary tradition of postmodernism that is intent on, indeed seems to delight in, deconstructing just about everything in view – especially our sense of what is real. Searle’s stance reacts also against the dominant view in psychology and philosophy of mind that severely deflates consciousness to the point of ignoring it completely or not taking it seriously when explaining mental phenomena. Interestingly, in his defence of reality, consciousness, and his sense that a big picture philosophic stance makes sense, Searle incorporates many of the views that he reacts against. He mixes his views with those of those with whom he disagrees. Yes, he says, we know things only from a certain point of view (aspectually), and yet we still can meaningfully think of ourselves as being in contact with the real world. Yes, he also says, science can explain consciousness in terms of what non-consciously goes on inside our head. Yet he adds that that need not undermine the importance of . . .

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