Consciousness Thought

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language by John R. Searle

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By John R. Searle

Written in an outstandingly transparent and energetic sort, it provokes its readers to reconsider matters they might have considered as lengthy for the reason that settled.

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Extra resources for Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language

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3 Reference and misinformation I now want to turn to a further problem that Evans’s account faces. When a capacity to refer depends upon information from, and about, the referent we can expect two sorts of failure. There may be failure through there being no information forthcoming and there may be failure through misinformation. Given the fact that first-person reference seems peculiarly immune from failure we need to look at how Evans’s account deals with such possible failures. We have considered cases in which there is no information.

If it is supposed that the subject is able to refer, not to her thoughts using ‘I’, but to a distinct thing that her thoughts are a property of, then the subject must be supposed already to have some knowledge of the relation between this property and what she is. She will only be able to use ‘I’ to refer to herself on being presented with a thought if she knows that this thought is her thought. ⁴ ⁴ The argument is drawn from a very similar one offered by Shoemaker: ‘Obviously, however, the introspective observation of a self being angry is not going to yield the knowledge that I am angry unless I know that that self is myself.

On the account it is not because of the special logic of first-person reference that reference failure is rarer than for perceptual demonstratives. It is ³ I owe the thought that such a case causes a problem for Evans to John Campbell. It appeared in a paper ‘Self-Consciousness and ‘‘I’’ ’. (ms). ⁴ It is important to stress again that the problem case should not be taken to show that Evans was wrong to think that the ability to conceive of ourselves as spatio-temporal objects is a precondition of first-person thought.

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