In Bergson and Intensive Magnitude: Dismantling his Critique, Florian Vermeiren argues that Bergson’s critique of intensive magnitude in Time and Free Will is inconsistent with his later philosophy, and even inconsistent with the role of a “difference in degrees of freedom” in Time and Free Will. I argue that it is rather Vermeiren’s analysis which mischaracterizes Bergson’s critique and therefore the interpretation of an inconsistency cannot stand. In the first two sections I reevaluate Bergson’s critique, showing what, according to Bergson, (...) are the good and bad senses of intensity, and how this critique allowed Bergson to institute a new conception of difference as expressed in concrete continuity. In the final section I examine the importance of infinitesimal thought in Bergson’s good sense of intensity. (shrink)
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)
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 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)
The life history of certain philosophical and theological terms and concepts constitutes in itself an interesting matter for consideration and reflection. None is more interesting than that of natural law. Many studies have traced the development of natural law philosophy from its early precursors among the Pre-Socratics through Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics, St Thomas, and the early British empiricists; have noted its demise in the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the criticism of Hume; and have observed its (...) renaissance in the twentieth century. Despite this undeniable revival of interest in the theory in the present century, a moral philosopher uses the term only at great risk, for no philosophical theory has been so vigorously attacked and so thoroughly ‘refuted’ as natural law. (shrink)
As Louisiana and Cuba emerged from slavery in the late nineteenth century, each faced the question of what rights former slaves could claim. Degrees of Freedom compares and contrasts these two societies in which slavery was destroyed by war, and citizenship was redefined through social and political upheaval. Both Louisiana and Cuba were rich in sugar plantations that depended on an enslaved labor force. After abolition, on both sides of the Gulf of Mexico, ordinary people-cane cutters and cigar workers, laundresses (...) and labor organizers-forged alliances to protect and expand the freedoms they had won. But by the beginning of the twentieth century, Louisiana and Cuba diverged sharply in the meanings attributed to race and color in public life, and in the boundaries placed on citizenship. Louisiana had taken the path of disenfranchisement and state-mandated racial segregation; Cuba had enacted universal manhood suffrage and had seen the emergence of a transracial conception of the nation. What might explain these differences? Moving through the cane fields, small farms, and cities of Louisiana and Cuba, Rebecca Scott skillfully observes the people, places, legislation, and leadership that shaped how these societies adjusted to the abolition of slavery. The two distinctive worlds also come together, as Cuban exiles take refuge in New Orleans in the 1880s, and black soldiers from Louisiana garrison small towns in eastern Cuba during the 1899 U.S. military occupation. Crafting her narrative from the words and deeds of the actors themselves, Scott brings to life the historical drama of race and citizenship in postemancipation societies. (shrink)
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)
Disillusionment with psychology is leading more and more people to formal philosophy for clues about how to think about life. But most of us who try to grapple with concepts such as reality, truth, common sense, consciousness, and society lack the rigorous training to discuss them with any confidence. John Searle brings these notions down from their abstract heights to the terra firma of real-world understanding, so that those with no knowledge of philosophy can understand how these principles play (...) out in our everyday lives. The author stresses that there is a real world out there to deal with, and condemns the belief that the reality of our world is dependent on our perception of it. (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)
Gödei's Theorem seems to me to prove that Mechanism is false, that is, that minds cannot be explained as machines. So also has it seemed to many other people: almost every mathematical logician I have put the matter to has confessed to similar thoughts, but has felt reluctant to commit himself definitely until he could see the whole argument set out, with all objections fully stated and properly met. This I attempt to do.
The human cognitive architecture consists of a set of largely independent modules associated with different brain regions. This book discusses in detail how these various modules can combine to produce behaviours as varied as driving a car and solving an algebraic equation.
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.
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)
John R. Schneider explores the problem that animal suffering, caused by the inherent nature of Darwinian evolution, poses to belief in theism. Examining the aesthetic aspects of this moral problem, Schneider focuses on the three prevailing approaches to it: that the Fall caused animal suffering in nature, that Darwinian evolution was the only way for God to create an acceptably good and valuable world, and that evolution is the source of major, God-justifying beauty. He also uses canonical texts and (...) doctrines from Judaism and Christianity - notably the book of Job, and the doctrines of the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection - to build on insights taken from the non-lapsarian alternative approaches. Schneider thus constructs an original, God-justifying account of God and the evolutionary suffering of animals. His book enables readers to see that the Darwinian configuration of animal suffering unveiled by scientists is not as implausible on Christian theism as commonly supposed. (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.\**.
John Dewey’s pragmatism and naturalism are grounded on metaphysical tenets describing how mind’s intelligence is thoroughly natural in its activity and productivity. His worldview is best classified as Organic Realism, since it descended from the German organicism and Naturphilosophie of Herder, Schelling, and Hegel which shaped the major influences on his early thought. Never departing from its tenets, his later philosophy starting with Experience and Nature elaborated a philosophical organon about science, culture, and ethics to fulfill his particular version (...) of Organic Realism. (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)
In informal terms, abductive reasoning involves inferring the best or most plausible explanation from a given set of facts or data. It is a common occurrence in everyday life and crops up in such diverse places as medical diagnosis, scientific theory formation, accident investigation, language understanding, and jury deliberation. In recent years, it has become a popular and fruitful topic in artificial intelligence research. This volume breaks new ground in the scientific, philosophical, and technological study of abduction. It presents new (...) ideas about inferential and information-processing foundations for knowledge and certainty. The authors argue that knowledge arises from experience by processes of abductive inference, in contrast to the view that it arises non-inferentially, or that deduction and inductive generalization are enough to account for knowledge. Much AI research is hypothetical, so the importance of this book is that it reports key discoveries about abduction that have been made as a result of designing, building, testing, and analyzing actual working knowledge-based systems for medical diagnosis and other abductive tasks. The book tells the story of six generations of increasingly sophisticated generic abduction machines, RED-1, RED-2, PEIRCE, MDX2, TIPS, QUAWDS, and the discovery of reasoning strategies that make it computationally feasible to form well-justified composite explanatory hypotheses, despite the threat of combinatorial explosion. The final chapter argues that perception is logically abductive and presents a layered-abduction computational model of perceptual information processing. This book will be of great interest to researchers in AI, cognitive science, and philosophy of science. (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)