Minds, Brains, and Science is intended to explain the functioning of the human mind and argue for the existence of free will using modern materialistic arguments and making no appeal to religious concepts. Despite its use of accessible terminology and its straightforward argument, the book is clearly controversial, because Searle attacks dualism, Chomskyan linguistics, behavioralism, cognitive psychology, and the belief in artificial intelligence, all of which have many supporters, both scientists and lay people. At the same time, Searle asserts that human beings have free will, an idea that seems at odds with his materialism, and he does so from a point of view that rejects the dualistic tradition deriving from Rene Descartes, which suggests that the mind is more than the molecular structure of the brain and that free will and determinism therefore coexist. Searle grounds his arguments in appeals to common sense, and readers’ acceptance of them therefore depends on their acceptance of Searle’s examples and analogies.
The first three chapters, which outline Searle’s ideas about the mind-brain / body question and his critique of artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, depend on a series of analogies. He argues that the relationship of the mind to the brain is like that of a macrocosmic object such as a solid to the microcosmic molecules of which it is constituted; from this analogy, he concludes that the functions of consciousness,...
(The entire section is 1224 words.)
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