Mind

Mind : A Brief Introduction

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Description

"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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 134.6 x 180.3 x 30.5mm | 385.56g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 5 line drawings
  • 0195157338
  • 9780195157338

Review quote

Searle's deeply thought-out naturalism and ontological realism are refreshing and his arguments are rigorous and compelling, which makes this a highly engaging and brilliant piece of philosophical writing for any serious reader to enjoy. Maria Antonietta Perna, University College Londonshow more

Review Text

It seems fitting that the one indispensable tool of philosophy is also one of its major problems. Here's an attempt to show general readers the key issues. Searle (Philosophy/Berkeley; Mind, Language, and Society, 1998, etc.) begins by flatly stating that all the major theories of mind are false. By that he refers explicitly to dualism-Descartes' hard-and-fast distinction between the mental and the physical-and materialism, the belief that the working of the mind can be explained entirely by physical processes. The problem, according to Searle, is that both positions seem reasonable in isolation, yet neither can account for things that we experience daily. The dualist, for example, can't explain how we can perform the simplest voluntary acts, such as raising an arm; and the materialist can't explain the subjective realm of emotions, idea, and sensations that each of us inhabits. Searle gives detailed summaries of these two schools, then offers his refutations. Traditional categories of "physical" and "mental," he argues, beg the question, forcing us to believe that we must choose between alternatives. Searle's common-sense proposal: that while mind is indeed the product of physical processes of the brain, it operates on a higher level-just as the solidity of matter is a higher-level result of interactions of atoms and physical law. He labels his synthesis "biological naturalism," then goes on to discuss several of the key questions raised by modern theories of the mind: consciousness and unconsciousness, intentionality, free will, perception, the self. The reader untrained in philosophy may find much of this-in particular the discussion of intentionality-heavy going. But Searle makes a determined effort to provide real-world examples of his subject, and those who stick with him will find his insights persuasive. An often-fascinating look into a subject we all know intimately-but that even the experts don't fully understand. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About John R. Searle

John R. Searle is Mills Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books, including The Rediscovery of the Mind, The Mystery of Consciousness, Mind, Language and Society, Philosophy in the Real World, and Consciousness and Language.show more

Rating details

540 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 27% (145)
4 43% (231)
3 22% (117)
2 6% (34)
1 2% (13)
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