Why would any intelligent person want to read about philosophy? Searle (Philosophy/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley) presents a far...


"MIND, LANGUAGE, AND SOCIETY: Philosophy in the Real Worm"

Why would any intelligent person want to read about philosophy? Searle (Philosophy/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley) presents a far too circuitous guide for those brave souls prepared to enter the philosophical labyrinth. Searle attempts a down-to-earth synthesis of his views ""on mind, language, and society, . . . how they relate to each other, and how they fit into our overall conception of the universe."" In the tradition of what is nowadays quite unpopularly referred to as the ""logical positivists,"" Searle goes a step further: after analyzing reality into its parts, he wants to put it all back tgogether in a constructive mode. The main thesis, however, which is never fully articulated, involves thes rejection of Nietzsche's belief that reality is constructed through our interpretation of it while affirming his notions of the will to power. The nonspecialist will surely miss the import of this complex argument with Continental philosophy and postmodern thought. Theory and system take precedence over clear and precise explanation. So, for example, one essential technical term, ""Cartesian dualism"" is found in the introduction but the reader must wade through 44 pages before finding out that dualism is a notion ""of radically different kinds of entities in the universe, material objects and minds"" and that this particular form of dualism is named after RenÆ’ Descartes. Searle never really bothers to unpack the nature of logical arguments or show us how to ask the right philosophical questions. Bertrand Russell, in his The Problems of Philosophy, points out that ""philosophy is to be studied not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves."" Searle spends too much time making claims ""to have knowledge of the real world"" and too little time on the rest of us who are still trying to find some meaning in the often confusing, painful reality of our world.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1999


Page Count: 176

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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