Mind : A Brief Introduction: A Brief Introduction

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA, Nov 1, 2004 - Medical - 336 pages
5 Reviews
"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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I used this book to teach a course in the philosophy of human nature and I loved it. Searle touts his brand of philosophy called "biological naturalism": it is the view that all of our conscious states arise from neurobiological processes. The book is also an introduction to the common problems in philosophy of mind. But you better come prepared for a somewhat technical (in some places) discussion of free will, mental causation and the mind-body problem. As usual, however, Searle is crystal-clear in his explanations and arguments. Moreover, he appears to be pretty convincing in his refutations of reductionistic (nothing-but) materialism. This book is informative and a pretty good read.  


Why I Wrote This Book
1 A Dozen Problems in the Philosophy of Mind
2 The Turn to Materialism
3 Arguments against Materialism
Consciousness and the MindBody Problem
The Structure of Consciousness and Neurobiology
6 Intentionality
7 Mental Causation
9 The Unconscious and the Explanation of Behavior
10 Perception
11 The Self
Philosophy and the Scientific WorldView
Suggestions for Further Reading
Name Index

8 Free Will

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 9 - The aim of this book is to introduce the reader to the concepts behind the general area of computer science known as distributed and parallel processing.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2004)

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.

Bibliographic information