Mind, Language and Intentionality

Mind, Language and Intentionality

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAO115
Publisher: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788180902130
Pages: 344
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 560 gm

Book Description

About The Book

This book proposes to examine John Searle's philosophy of mind namely the biological naturalism. The biological naturalism advocates two important points. They are, firstly, the mind is evolved like any other bio logical phenomena in the world. Hence, the mind is part of the nature. Secondly, the mind is irreducible to the physical functions of the body. Therefore, the mind is independent of the nature. Dualism follows from the later, whereas the former tries to make a case for a naturalistic enquiry of the mind. This poses ambivalence in reader's mind. Some of Searle's critics like Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, Ruth Millikan, J. N. Mohanty, Brain Loar, Collin McGinn and many others are discussed in order to study the contemporary debates in philoso phy of mind and have a comprehen sive understanding of Searle's phi losophy of mind. The discussion in this book is centered around the above cited points and analysis has been developed reflection on three important concepts namely mind, language and intentionality. They are intrinsic to human life. Their intrin sicness is shown in their construal of experience, meaning, and action. The deepness of human conscious life is not measurable rather can be experi enced within the realm of human form of life. Thus the present essay is a critique of Searle's theorization of the mind.

About the Author

Ranjan Kumar Panda (1972 b.) completed Master Degree and Ph.D. from the Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad. He taught at the Dept. of Philosophy Faculty of Arts, M. S. University of Baroda, Vadodara (1999 to 2004), He is currently working as Asst. Professor in the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Mumbai.


It is more than a few decades now John R. Searle has drawn the attention of many philosophers and the thinkers of other disciplines. Searle's philosophical engagement with the problems related to language, mind and society is quite deep. The depth of his philosophical theses is reflected in his lucid writings - the analysis of philosophical issues and problems. Many of us would agree that he has succeeded in giving a turn to the naturalistic understanding of the mind. The two basic issues that the Searlean philosophy addresses are the problem of substance dualism and materialistic reductionism. The substance dualism advocated by Rene Descartes has been interpreted quite differently. Some of the philosophers of the mind of the recent time discuss the problem of the Cartesianism and have made serious attempt in explaining the mind away from the discourse. Such an attempt certainly nullifies the theoretical significance of the mind. The Searlean philosophy makes at serious intervention challenging his contemporaries and throwing light in a new direction. The path shown in this direction is philosophically interesting. It is especially more for those who still cherish the little of dualism in their cup. This dualism may not be of Searlean kind but can be any form - as dualism is experienced in daily life. How do we reject our won subjectivity? How do we reject that world in which we live? The critics may have their significant answers to these questions. But this is indeed the hard reality that we are engaged with. In his philosophical endeavor, Searle retains naturalism and the human subjectivity. The mind has no theoretical significance without making an intentional engagement with the world and keeping also its own subjectivity away from the other. In this regard, the Searlean analysis of the substance dualism does alter the Cartesian thesis, not by eliminating the mind but by reasserting the mind in a unique way. This aspect of the Searlean philosophy is discussed in this book.


The present essay is a study of the concepts of mind, language and intentionality in John. R. Searle's philosophy of mind. Mind, language and intentionality are three basic features of conscious human beings. They constitute the three fundamental aspects of human life: the mental, the linguistic and the intentional. They together constitute the species' specific characteristic of the human beings. So far as human life is concerned they are intrinsic to each other. According to Searle, consciousness is the underlying principle, which binds these features together as intrinsic features of human life. Consciousness is real in the sense that it is a part of reality. And at the same time it defines the reality and so it is independent of reality. Reality is in itself physical. If that is the case, then how does consciousness as an independent phenomenon fit into the physical nature of reality? The relationship of consciousness to the physical world is manifested in the intentional and, more significantly in the linguistic activities of human beings. They are intrinsic to consciousness and stand unified by the principle which connects the mental to the physical. The possibility of such a unity in reality is an important issue in Searle's philosophy of mind, especially in his theory of biological naturalism. So the question arises: How does the Searlean realism resolve the problem of Cartesian dualism i.e., the dichotomy between the mental and the physical? Even if it accepts some form of dualism than how does it refute the reductionism? These questions are addressed in the study of which examines how does Searle's theory of mind strongly opposes metaphysical dualism and responds sharply to the scientific attitude of reductionism in the contemporary philosophy of mind. These are the two basic issues which dominate my study of Searle's philosophy of mind.
Searle's response to these above problem started more than three decades ago when he tried to respond to an important question, i.e., "How do the words relate to the world?", which appeared in his book Speech Acts (1969) Searle's main thrust was to find out a stable answer to the question: What is the underlying principle that works behind language use in establishing relationship with reality? The question opened up a passage from the philosophy of language to philosophy of mind. In his investigation, he did not make any paradigm shift from the linguistic and to the mental. Rather, his endeavour was to point out the necessary connection between the mind and the world. Language and mind do not stand as separate phenomena, according to him. In this regard his primary attempt has been to show the relationship between language and mind. For him, the language use or speech act is special sort of action, which could be characterized as purely intentional. The meaning of the speech is derived from the intentional utterances of the speaker. Meaning is ultimately derived from speaker's intentional interpretation of the non-intentional entities. Intentionality is the unique feature of language and mind. Therefore, the very conception of language as related to the reality is due to the intentional property of the subject who uses language. Intentionality as a basic property means directedness or aboutness. It shows how language use is always directed towards the world. Searle's investigation is thus an investigation into the intentionality of mind and language. So the basic question Searle faces is: where does the notion of intentionality flow from?

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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