Indiana University Bloomington

Philosopher John Searle to deliver Indiana University Patten Lectures

  • Aug. 26, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- John Searle, a leading philosopher of the mind, language and society, will present the first Patten Lectures of the 2014-15 academic year on Sept. 9 and 11 at Indiana University Bloomington.

Searle, the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, is a pioneer of speech act theory and a major contributor to the philosophy of mind and action. In recent decades, his study of language has led him in the direction of social philosophy -- the theory of collective action and intention, and the nature and structure of social reality.

Searle will present two lectures, both from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall:

  • “Consciousness as a Problem in Philosophy and Neurobiology,” Tuesday, Sept. 9
  • “The Logical Structure of Human Civilization,” Thursday, Sept. 11

In the Sep. 9 lecture, Searle will discuss what he calls “a main intellectual scandal today”: the fact that we do not have a generally accepted account of consciousness. He will offer the philosophical core of such an account, explain the difficulties in getting a neurobiological account and “expose half a dozen really outrageous mistakes about consciousness.”

On Sept. 11, he will explain how distinctive features of human civilization -- such as money, property, marriage and government -- have logical, propositional structures and are created and maintained by certain sorts of speech acts.

Searle’s work has had a profound impact on a variety of fields, including cognitive science, psychology, computer science and linguistics. He says many of the problems that interest him have to do with how parts of the world relate to one another: How do we get from the physics of utterances to meaningful speech? How do mental phenomena fit into a world made up of physical particles in fields of force? How can there be an objective world of money, marriage, football games and cocktail parties if the world is exhausted by physical particles arranged in space?

Searle is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and has written over 200 articles and 16 books, including “Making the Social World”; “Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in the Real World”; and “Rationality in Action.” He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Academy of Science and Art and has received eight honorary degrees.

The William T. Patten Foundation

The William T. Patten Foundation, endowed by a student of the Indiana University class of 1893, provides funding to bring to the Bloomington campus lecturers of extraordinary national and international distinction. Past Lecturers have included Oscar Arias, Jorge Luis Borges, Noam Chomsky, Natalie Zemon Davis, Umberto Eco, Werner Herzog, Julian S. Huxley, Toni Morrison, Martha Nussbaum, Amos Oz, Edward Said, Amartya Sen, Wole Soyinka and Lester Thurow.

Inquires about the Patten Foundation, the Patten Lecture Series, and future nominations may be directed to

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