Mind, Language, and Society: Doing Philosophy in the Real World

John R. Searle, Author
John R. Searle, Author Basic Books $21 (192p) ISBN 978-0-465-04519-8
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Paperback - 175 pages - 978-0-465-04521-1
Open Ebook - 189 pages - 978-0-7867-2387-4
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For years, Searle (Intentionality; The Mystery of Consciousness; Minds, Brains, and Science), a professor of philosophy at UC-Berkeley, has battled against philosophical fashion to insist that the world is, in fact, intelligible to the human mind. This may sound unremarkable to laypeople. But, as Searle remarks, at a time when postmodernism and deconstruction are in vogue, intellectuals, to be taken seriously, often must believe that different cultures have different rationalities and that the world as a whole is unintelligible. Searle, however, defends the naturalistic belief that there does exist a real world, which is perceivable and comprehensible and is not changed by the angle of our observation. Among his most forceful arguments are that consciousness is a genuine phenomenon caused by knowable physical processes; that intention is real, produced by causal mechanisms in the brain; and that language expands the possibilities of intentionality. In an interesting aside, Searle speculates that contemporary thinkers reject an objectivist theory because of ""an urge to power."" They don't want to be answerable to the world but for the world to be answerable to them. To Searle, however, realism ""is not a theory at all but the framework within which it is possible to have theories."" (Jan.)
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