Reviews 999 said using the story as a method to convey a point. Whether this is effective or not will depend on the reader. The patient reader who really does want to follow Thirring ’ s invitation to dig deeper will find these pleasant exercises. The reader who wants to discover the traces of God in the laws of nature without becoming so personally involved in the journey may find this approach frustrating. And therein lies a possible difficulty with this book. None of this is easy or simple. To cross intellectual divides and to reveal what can be seen from the one side to those on the other is a formidable task. Thirring ’ s solution is to ask the reader to look from his vantage point, rather than to attempt to explain the view. C ARL S. H ELRICH Goshen College 1700 South Main Goshen, IN 46526 Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power . By John R. Searle. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2007. 113 pages. $25.50. In this very brief book John Searle continues his project of trying to naturalize the psychological and social without doing away with either or reducing them to the natural. Consisting of versions of two lectures he delivered at the Sorbonne in 2001, the text easily succeeds in drawing the nonspecialist into the fray. The first essay, “ Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology, ” addresses the putative incompatibility between the doctrine of freedom of the will and contemporary neurobiology by suggesting an account of free will that allows for an empirical, scientific solution. The second, “ Social Ontology and Political Power, ” argues the logical priority of language to the existence of social institutions and political power and claims inter alia that deontic powers are ultimately grounded in social ontology. The 35-page introduction, “ Philosophy and the Basic Facts, ” situates the two apparently disparate lectures within Searle ’ s larger philosophical enterprise, although he admits that at “ the level of authorial intent, [the two original lectures] do not have any connection ” (p. 3). Common to both freedom and institutional facts is the existence of consciousness, intentionality, rationality, and language. Clearly, Searle gets the central question right: “ How can we square this self- conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles? ” (p. 5) This very old question is especially acute today because dualism no longer has plausibility in educated quarters. We simply know too much about the natural machinery of the brain to be able to ignore naturalistic explanations of mind. In our time, explanations of ourselves must be naturalistic.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 4 pages?
- Fall '19
- John Searle, John R. Searle