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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Kenan Malik
Simon McLeish

John Searle

Mind, Language and Society

Philosophy, and in particular the philosophy of mind, can be a difficult area for those not used to the ways of philosophers. In Mind, Language and Society:Philosophy in the real word John Searle gives a readable discussion of realism, consciousness, society and language, explaining why others seem to tie themselves in knots about such issues.

The book has six chapters. The first looks at realism - Searle believes that there is a real world out there. This is followed by three chapters on the nature of the mind and consciousness - the biology of the brain, the structure of consciousness, and the nature of intentionality. The penultimate chapter looks at society, and at how social institutions, such as money, get their meaning. The final chapter looks at the particular social institution of language.

I'm not entirely convinced about the way Searle deals with the 'hard' problem of consciousness. His view is that the division into the competing possibilities of materialism/dualism/epiphenomenalism/idealism just isn't the right way to look at it. There may well be something in this, but to me it looks a bit like sidestepping the issue. Searle also seems to be avoiding some of the awkward questions of what it would mean for a machine to be conscious. So I don't agree with everything which Searle has to say, but I did feel that this conscise book does introduce some of the important issues in philosophy, and gives the reader some insightful ideas on how these issues might be dealt with.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 0465045219
Salesrank: 458571
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 1999 Basic Books
Amazon price $12.27
Marketplace:New from $6.01:Used from $1.48
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 188 pages  
ISBN: 0465045219
Salesrank: 494592
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 1999 Basic Books
Marketplace:New from £6.47:Used from £1.57
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 0465045219
Salesrank: 461049
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 1999 Basic Books
Amazon price CDN$ 16.12
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 9.18:Used from CDN$ 7.96
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Product Description
Disillusionment with psychology is leading more and more people to formal philosophy for clues about how to think about life. But most of us who try to grapple with concepts such as reality, truth, common sense, consciousness, and society lack the rigorous training to discuss them with any confidence. John Searle brings these notions down from their abstract heights to the terra firma of real-world understanding, so that those with no knowledge of philosophy can understand how these principles play out in our everyday lives. The author stresses that there is a real world out there to deal with, and condemns the belief that the reality of our world is dependent on our perception of it.