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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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... JohnSearle 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 ...
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, JohnSearle 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 ...
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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... JohnSearle 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 ...

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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... Old Harry’ with the long-standing fetishes of fact and value and with the very idea of the true and the false. But he died, at just 48, in 1960, and did not himself get to such a philosophy. JohnSearle 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 ...
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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... JohnSearle’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 ...


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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... a sustained and intricate meditation on the status of proper names and signatures in general; that it takes up themes from Derrida’s previous writing, notably from Limited Inc, his exchange with JohnSearle 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 ...
4 March 1982
by Jacques Derrida.
Athlone, 366 pp., £25, December 1981, 0 485 30005 2
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... city of Nineveh. Derrida’s message has indeed caused increasing disarray in the citadels of Academe over the past decade, and particularly in those of America. If American philosophers, such as JohnSearle, 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 ...

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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... clearly in Smith’s discussion of a very different approach to the relation between science and religion, 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 ...
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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... to the exchange between Evans and Strawson, I should add that there is much more here which is rich and subtle. It is a toss-up which are the worst papers in Philosophical Subjects. For some time, JohnSearle 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 ...
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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... of philosophers of mind. Some of these, like Patricia Churchland and Christine Skarda, have actually relocated themselves within neuroscience laboratories; others, like Daniel Dennett and even JohnSearle, 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 ...
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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... a false start in medicine (the decade when Wimsatt and Beardsley collaborated on The Verbal Icon). Is 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 ...

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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... gives the shortest of shrifts to the theory that divides the sensory system from the mental processing of received messages: ‘That route has been taken for two thousand years, from Aristotle to JohnSearle 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 ...
27 June 1991
The Problem of Consciousness 
by Colin McGinn.
Blackwell, 216 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 631 17698 5
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... consciousness – has proved a remarkably successful research strategy so far. But, it is, of course, doomed in the long run if the link between the two should turn out, after all, to be intrinsic. JohnSearle 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 ...
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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... in this book are Jean Baudrillard, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish, Jean-François Lyotard and Michel 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 ...


Andrew Hodges

17 April 1986
Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern 
by Douglas Hofstadter.
Viking, 852 pp., £18.95, September 1985, 0 670 80687 0
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Ada: A Life and a Legacy 
by Dorothy Stein.
MIT, 321 pp., £17.50, January 1986, 9780262192422
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... Yes, a reworking of the logic of self-reference, as I have already indicated; yes, much discussion of Artificial Intelligence, in which Hofstadter takes a line which tackles both the objections of JohnSearle to the very proposition of machine-based intelligence and the claims of Herbert Simon that such an intelligence is already emerging. But there are many other topics, which take him well beyond ...

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