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Betty Crocker’s Theory

Paul Churchland, 12 May 1994

The Rediscovery of the Mind 
by John Searle.
MIT, 270 pp., £19.95, August 1992, 0 262 19321 3
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... John Searle is known primarily for his extensive writings in the philosophy of language, but in recent years he has published some celebrated iconoclastic essays in the philosophy of mind. His ‘Minds, Brains, and Programs’, for example, challenged the fundamental assumption in artificial intelligence that cognition can be re-created by the manipulation of physical symbols according to a formal program ...

Hyenas, Institutions and God

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 July 1995

The Construction of Social Reality 
by John Searle.
Allen Lane, 241 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 7139 9112 7
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... John Searle is in a café in Paris. The waiter arrives. ‘Un demi,’ Searle asks, ‘Munich, à pression, s’il vous plaît.’ The waiter brings the beer. Searle drinks it, puts a few francs on the table, and leaves. ‘An innocent scene’, he agrees, ‘but its metaphysical complexity is truly staggering, and its complexity would have taken Kant’s breath away if he had ever bothered to think about such things ...

What’s it all about?

Richard Rorty, 17 May 1984

Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind 
by John Searle.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £20, July 1983, 0 521 22895 6
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... In a recent polemic against Derrida, John Searle said that the present was a sort of ‘golden age of the philosophy of language’. This is certainly true. It is an era of system-building, in which dozens of immensely complex structures are being constructed. The older rhetoric of analytic philosophy, which decried system-building, big fat books (as opposed to thin, stiletto-like journal articles), and the development of philosophical ‘schools’, has been put aside ...

This is a book review

Geoffrey Hawthorn: John Searle, 20 January 2011

Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilisation 
by John Searle.
Oxford, 208 pp., £14.99, January 2010, 978 0 19 957691 3
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... and the false. But he died, at just 48, in 1960, and did not himself get to such a philosophy. John Searle studied under Austin in Oxford in the 1950s, then went to Berkeley, where he has remained. He published his first book, Speech Acts, in 1969 and is Austin’s pre-eminent heir. He’s certainly not fussed about the distinction between statements ...

Literal meaning and fictional utterance

John McDowell, 17 April 1980

Expression and Meaning: Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts 
by John Searle.
Cambridge, 187 pp., £8.50, December 1979, 0 521 22901 4
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... John Searle’s subtitle alludes to the mode of reflection about language which he recommended, and showed in operation, in his earlier book Speech Acts. What the theory of speech acts offers is a view of language which is to allow us to take full account of the fact that linguistic behaviour is behaviour, without lapsing into a behaviouristic obliteration of the inner life ...


Christopher Norris, 20 February 1986

by Jacques Derrida, translated by Richard Rand.
Columbia, 160 pp., $20, March 1984, 0 231 05446 7
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... it takes up themes from Derrida’s previous writing, notably from Limited Inc, his exchange with John Searle on the topic (supposedly) of speech-act philosophy; and that Signsponge is perhaps his most extravagant text to date, judged by all the normal, reputable standards of literary-critical practice. But having said all this one has really done no ...

Return of Oedipus

Stephen Bann, 4 March 1982

by Jacques Derrida.
Athlone, 366 pp., £25, December 1981, 0 485 30005 2
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... over the past decade, and particularly in those of America. If American philosophers, such as John Searle, have reacted dismissively, the same has not been true of those restless denizens of the sea of texts, the literary critics. Geoffrey Hartman’s Saving the Text, whose subtitle hopefully sandwiches Derrida between the two bastions of ...

Existence Unperceived

W.D. Hart, 15 October 1981

Philosophical Subjects: Essays Presented to P.F. Strawson 
edited by Zak van Straaten.
Oxford, 302 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198246039
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... and subtle. It is a toss-up which are the worst papers in Philosophical Subjects. For some time, John Searle has been in the business of refuting David Hume’s thesis that purely normative or evaluative claims cannot be derived from purely factual claims. This has generated a certain amount of argument in the journals. Jaakko Hintikka is one of ...

Into the Mental Basement

Thomas Nagel: Science and Religion, 19 August 2010

Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion 
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith.
Yale, 201 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 300 14034 7
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... an approach that she calls the ‘new natural theology’. It is represented by writers like John Polkinghorne and John Haught, who seek to show that the facts revealed by contemporary science leave ‘room’ for a providential deity. The image of potential competition for ‘ontological space’ between science and ...

Representing Grandma

Steven Rose, 7 July 1994

The Astounding Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul 
by Francis Crick.
Simon and Schuster, 317 pp., £16.99, May 1994, 9780671711580
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... relocated themselves within neuroscience laboratories; others, like Daniel Dennett and even John Searle, are content to observe closely from the outside. While this attention to the brain has shifted the centre of gravity of the mind/brain debate, it has hardly reduced the vigour of the polemic that has ensued among both philosophers and ...

A New Theory of Communication

Alastair Fowler, 30 March 1989

Relevance: Communication and Cognition 
by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson.
Blackwell, 279 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 631 13756 4
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Human Agency: Language, Duty and Value 
edited by Jonathan Dancy, J.M.E. Moravcsik and C.C.W. Taylor.
Stanford, 308 pp., $35, September 1988, 0 8047 1474 6
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... it that we have become more competitive, more serious? ‘Not on your life, boy,’ my colleague John Hay in the anatomy lab used to say, but he would be helpfully turning a cadaver’s hand in response to my ‘Give me some palm, Olive’ and didn’t have to say he meant quite the opposite. Is it mutual supportiveness that makes collaborative writing ...

Too hard for our kind of mind?

Jerry Fodor, 27 June 1991

The Problem of Consciousness 
by Colin McGinn.
Blackwell, 216 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 631 17698 5
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... doomed in the long run if the link between the two should turn out, after all, to be intrinsic. John Searle has recently been dining out on this line of thought. That, then, is the background for the most interesting of McGinn’s papers, which are, fortunately, also the ones that philosophy buffs will find most accessible. As I read him, McGinn has ...

Feel the burn

Jenny Diski: Pain, 30 September 1999

Pain: The Science of Suffering 
by Patrick Wall.
Weidenfeld, 186 pp., £12.99, July 1999, 0 297 84255 2
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... of received messages: ‘That route has been taken for two thousand years, from Aristotle to John Searle and Daniel Dennett. Pain has been used repeatedly as the simplest possible example of a physical stimulus which inevitably results in a mental response. We will not retrace this route, dropping the names of Bacon, Hume, Berkeley, Kant and ...

Talk about doing

Frank Kermode, 26 October 1989

Against Deconstruction 
by John Ellis.
Princeton, 168 pp., £13.70, February 1989, 0 691 06754 6
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The New Historicism 
by H. Aram Veeser.
Routledge, 318 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 415 90070 0
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Rethinking Historicism: Critical Essays in Romantic History 
by Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton.
Blackwell, 149 pp., £22.50, August 1989, 0 631 16591 6
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Towards a Literature of Knowledge 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 138 pp., £16.50, May 1989, 9780198117407
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The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 209 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 7450 0614 0
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... depends on the very presuppositions that have already been terminally deconstructed. The virtue of John Ellis’s book is that he insists on putting his questions in pre-deconstructive terms, refusing to believe that they can be dismissed as inapposite. For, as he remarks more than once, the importance of a new way of thinking can only be estimated by what ...

Return of the real

A.D. Nuttall, 23 April 1992

Uncritical Theory: Post-Modernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War 
by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 218 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 85315 752 9
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... Foucault, closely followed, as we shall see, by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Margaret Thatcher and John Major. The heroes are – well, Derrida, of course, but above all Noam Chomsky, here exalted especially because of his sturdily rationalist opposition to Foucault, in an exchange on Dutch Television in the early Seventies about the location of political ...

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