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John Searle

Geburtstag: 31. Juli 1932
Andere Namen: John Roger Searle

John Rogers Searle ist ein amerikanischer Philosoph. Seine Hauptarbeitsgebiete sind die Sprachphilosophie, die Philosophie des Geistes, Sozialontologie sowie Teile der Metaphysik. Searle ist Professor für Philosophie an der University of California, Berkeley.

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„Was auch immer genannt wird, muss vorhanden sein. Nennen wir es das Axiom der Existenz.“ Sprechakte: Ein sprachphilosophischer Essay. Aus dem Englischen von R. u. R. Wiggershaus. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1971. S. ??

„With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, "He says so and so," he always says, "You misunderstood me." But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of(terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, "What the hell do you mean by that?" And he said, "He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, 'You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.' That’s the terrorism part." And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.“


„In general, I feel if you can't say it clearly you don't understand it yourself.“

„It [writing] has enormous meta-cognitive implications. The power is this: That you cannot only think in ways that you could not possibly think if you did not have the written word, but you can now think about the thinking that you do with the written word. There is danger in this, and the danger is that the enormous expressive and self-referential capacities of the written word, that is, the capacities to keep referring to referring to referring, will reach a point where you lose contact with the real world. And this, believe me, is very common in universities. There's a technical name for it, I don't know if we can use it on television, it's called "bullshit." But this is very common in academic life, where people just get a form of self-referentiality of the language, where the language is talking about the language, which is talking about the language, and in the end, it's hot air. That's another name for the same phenomenon.“

„Nowadays nobody bothers, and it is considered in slightly bad taste to even raise the question of God's existence. Matters of religion are like matters of sexual preference: they are not discussed in public, and even the abstract questions are discussed only by bores.“

„Moods are not to be confused with emotions. Moods will dispose you to having an emotion. Certain moods you're more likely to get angry than others, as we all know, but emotion is not the same as mood. Emotions, I think, always have to do with agitated forms of desire. Whenever you're in an emotional state, you have some sort of agitated desire. So, emotions are fairly special -- I am not always in some sort of emotional state or other, but I think I am always in some mood or other.“

„It seemed to a number of philosophers of language, myself included, that we should attempt to achieve a unification of Chomsky's syntax, with the results of the researches that were going on in semantics and pragmatics. I believe that this effort has proven to be a failure. Though Chomsky did indeed revolutionize the subject of linguistics, it is not at all clear, at the end the century, what the solid results of this revolution are. As far as I can tell there is not a single rule of syntax that all, or even most, competent linguists are prepared to agree is a rule.“

„Prediction and explanation are exactly symmetrical. Explanations are, in effect, predictions about what has happened; predictions are explanations about what's going to happen.“


„Intentionality is simply that feature of the mind by way of which it is "directed at" or "about" objects and states of affairs in the world. Now, not all conscious states are intentional, and not all intentional states are conscious. It's possible to have forms of depression and anxiety where you don't know what you're anxious about, or you know don't what you're depressed about, or elation, where you just feel good.--Some of my students take chemicals that make them just have a feeling of well-being, but they don't feel good _about_ anything. Those are the non-intentional cases. But for the intentional cases there's an answer to the question 'well, what is it that you're happy about?', or 'what is it that you're depressed about?'. I gave a lecture on this subject once to an audience of psychoanalysts, and they got very excited, and said, "yes, that's our job. Our job is to convert the non-intentional cases of anxiety where the patient is anxious but doesn't know what he's anxious about, into the intentional cases, where the patient knows now what he's worried about, or what he's anxious about". It reminded me of Freud saying, "the aim of psychoanalysis is to replace neurotic misery with ordinary human unhappiness", and I guess it's characteristic of ordinary human unhappiness that you know what you're unhappy about--it is _intentionalistic_.“ The Philosophy of Mind

„One of the many marks of a philosophical sensibility is an obsession with problems which most sane people regard as not worth bothering about.“ Philosophy in a New Century

„There are five, and only five, possible types of speech acts, five types of illocutionary acts.4 These are (1) Assertives (statements, descriptions, assertions, etc.) whose point is to represent how things are and which therefore have the downhill or word-to-world direction of fit↓;(2) Directives (orders, commands, requests, etc.) whose point is to try to get other people to do things, and which have the uphill or world-to-word direction of fit↑;(3) Commissives (promises, vows, pledges, etc.) whose point is to commit the speaker to some course of action, and which, like directives, have the uphill or world-to-word direction of fit↑;(4) Expressives, (apologies, thanks, congratulations, etc.) whose point is to express the speaker’s feelings and attitudes about a state of affairs that is in most cases presupposed to exist already; and (5) Declarations, which, remarkably, have both directions of fit at once. In a Declaration we make something the case by declaring it to be the case. The first four types of speech acts have exact analogues in intentional states: corresponding to Assertives are beliefs↓, corresponding to Directives are desires↑, corresponding to Commissives are intentions↑, and corresponding to Expressives is the whole range of emotions and other intentional states where the Presup fit is taken for granted. But there is no prelinguistic analogue for the Declarations. Prelinguistic intentional states cannot create facts in the world by representing those facts as already existing. This remarkable feat requires a language.5“ Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization

„But could something think, understand, and so on solely in virtue of being a computer with the right sort of program? Could instantiating a program, the right program of course, by itself be a sufficient condition of understanding?"

This I think is the right question to ask, though it is usually confused with one or more of the earlier questions, and the answer to it is no.“


„If our imagined tribe just is not disposed to cross the boundaries as a matter of inclination, they do not in our sense have an institutional fact. They simply have a disposition to behave in certain ways, and their behavior is just like the case of animals marking the limits of their territory. There is nothing deontic about such markings. The animals simply behave in such and such ways, and “behave” here means they simply move their bodies in specific ways. But if we suppose that the members of the tribe recognize that the line of stones creates rights and obligations, that they are forbidden to cross the line, that they are not supposed to cross it, then we have symbolization. The stones now symbolize something beyond themselves; they function like words. I“ The Construction of Social Reality

„when we talk about the Background we are talking about a certain category of neurophysiological causation. Because we do not know how these structures function at a neurophysiological level, we are forced to describe them at a much higher level. There“ The Construction of Social Reality

„nothing in the literal meaning of those sentences blocks those wrong interpretations. In each case we understand the verb differently, even though its literal meaning is constant, because in each case our interpretation depends on our Background abilities.“ The Construction of Social Reality

„When I come home from work and my dog rushes out to greet me, wagging his tail and jumping up and down, why exactly is it that I am so confident that he is conscious and indeed that there is a specific content to his consciousness, he is happy to see me? The usual answer given to this question is that because his behavior is so much like that of a happy person I can infer that he is a happy dog. But that seems to me a mistaken argument. To begin with, happy people do not in general wag their tails and try to lick my hands. Furthermore, and more importantly, someone might easily build a robot dog that would wag its tail and jump up and down without having any inner feelings whatever. What is so special about the real dog? I think the answer is that the basis on which I am confident that my dog is conscious and has a specific content to his consciousness is not simply that his behavior is appropriate, but that I can see that the causal underpinnings of the behavior are relatively similar to mine. He has a brain, a perceptual apparatus, and a bodily structure that are relevantly similar to my own: these are his eyes, these are his ears, this is his skin, there is his mouth. It is not just on the basis of his behavior that I conclude that he is conscious, but rather on the basis of the causal structure that mediates the relation between the input stimulus and the output behavior.“ Mind: A Brief Introduction

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