Mind: A Brief Introduction ( Fundamentals of Philosophy Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview

"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 ...

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Mind: A Brief Introduction ( Fundamentals of Philosophy Series)

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Overview

"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 Mallarmé—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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Searle (philosophy, Berkeley) offers a chatty gloss on the traditional arguments for separating the human mind from its biology and his own account of this same mind as occurring as a part of nature itself. From Descartes's dualism to materialism's contemporary struggles to cope with artificial intelligence, he limns concepts that shape not only philosophic thinking but also inform-for better or for worse-social science and scientific theories involving the mind. Conceptions of consciousness, "proofs" of intentionality and free will, and the problems of perception and identity are taken up in turn, sometimes with more casual treatment than a rigorous scholar might want of the arguments Searle proposes to demonstrate as "right." However, the intention of this book is to give general readers some understanding of where the philosophy of mind stands at the present and an invitation to think about the mind for themselves. The treatment offered here does indeed suit such a purpose, which marks this as a timely book for general collections.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 adetermined 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199729005
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Series: Fundamentals of Philosophy Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 752,086
  • File size: 426 KB

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : why I wrote this book 1
1 A dozen problems in the philosophy of mind 9
2 The turn to materialism 41
3 Arguments against materialism 83
4 Consciousness Part I : consciousness and the mind-body problem 107
5 Consciousness Part II : the structure of consciousness and neurobiology 133
6 Intentionality 159
7 Mental causation 193
8 Free will 215
9 The unconscious and the explanation of behavior 237
10 Perception 259
11 The self 279
Epilogue : philosophy and the scientific world-view 301
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