John Searle

Biography of John Searle

John Rogers Searle (born July 31, 1932) is an American philosopher and currently the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Widely noted for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and social philosophy, he began teaching at Berkeley in 1959. He received the Jean Nicod Prize in 2000 and the National Humanities Medal in 2004. Among his notable concepts are the "Chinese room" argument against "strong" artificial intelligence.


Searle's father, G. W. Searle, an electrical engineer, was employed by AT&T Corporation, while his mother, Hester Beck Searle, was a physician. John Searle began his college education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and subsequently became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy.


While an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Searle was the secretary of "Students against Joseph McCarthy". McCarthy was then the junior Senator from Wisconsin. In 1959 he began to teach at Berkeley, and was the first tenured professor to join the 1964-5 Free Speech Movement. In 1969, while serving as chairman of the Academic Freedom Committee of the Academic Senate of the University of California, he supported the university in its dispute with students at People's Park.

In The Campus War: A Sympathetic Look at the University in Agony (1971). Searle investigates the causes behind the campus protests of the era. In it he declares that: "I have been attacked by both the House Un-American Activities Committee and ... several radical polemicists ... Stylistically, the attacks are interestingly similar. Both rely heavily on insinuation and innuendo, and both display a hatred -- one might almost say terror -- of close analysis and dissection of argument." He asserts that "[M]y wife was threatened that I (and other members of the administration) would be assassinated or violently attacked." Shortly after 9/11 Searle wrote an article claiming that the attack was part of a struggle whose only solution is rooting out governments which support terrorism. Updates

[Report Error]