John Searle Makes A Forceful Case for Studying Consciousness, Where Everything Else Begins

Consciousness is the single most important aspect of our lives, says philosopher John Searle. Why? “It’s a necessary condition on anything being important in our lives,” he says. “If you care about science, philosophy, music, art — whatever — it’s no good if you are a zombie or in a coma.”

Searle is one of today’s preeminent philosophers of mind. Author of the famous “Chinese Room” argument against the possibility of true artificial intelligence, Searle has been a persistent thorn in the side of those who would reduce consciousness to computation, or conflate it with behavior. Despite its intrinsically subjective nature, consciousness is an irreducible biological phenomenon, he says, “as much subject to scientific analysis as any other phenomenon in biology, or for that matter the rest of science.”

Searle made his remarks at the May 3 TEDx conference at CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research — near Geneva, Switzerland. The video above gives a thought-provoking overview of his basic conclusions about consciousness, but to delve deeper into Searle’s philosophy of mind — and also his philosophy of language and society — see our earlier post about his online Berkeley lectures: “Philosophy with John Searle: Three Free Courses.”

Related content:

John Searle on Foucault and the Obscurantism in French Philosophy

What Do Most Philosophers Believe? A Wide-Ranging Survey Project Gives Us Some Idea

Download 90 Free Philosophy Courses and Start Living the Examined Life

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