Teaching Searle and Analytic Philosophy

This summer term, I decided to use a different set of readings that I have been using for my Introduction to Philosophy class; and coming to the end of the term, we’re following a progression of Nietzsche, Sartre, Russell, a unit on feminism, a unit on postmodernism, Searle, and conclude the course with a discussion of philosophical practice (we read Marinoff).

Teaching Searle is always an interesting experience, as analytic philosophy sometimes feels little out of my comfort zone, but Searle is, in my opinion, a great writer and his work on articfical intelligence a lot of fun to teach to undergraduates.  The work seems “safe” compared to other topics with which we finish the course but the questions are significant and relevant.  In fact, reading the Chinese Thought Room Experiment is again, a lot of fun to read out loud and discuss while reading as a group; next time I teach this I want to find a way to re-enact the experiment.

Anyway, while we were talking about this, one of the students started bringing up some earlier figures from the class–Descartes, Locke, Marx, etc.–and all of a sudden I started thinking about Derrida’s critique of the Phaedrus, and how interesting it would be, even if as just something to think through, to work out a Searlian interpretation of “Plato’s Pharmacy” using his understanding of the difference between syntactical and semantic language.

Now this might be dead-end thinking, but what excited me a little was that I had found an entry or worthwhile area to explore in analytic philosophy.  Most of the analytic thought I know well is in the realm of applied ethics, but beyond that I am still figuring out the landscape. 

What outlets, conversation partners, texts, do you have, if any, with analytic philosophy?

2 thoughts on “Teaching Searle and Analytic Philosophy

  1. It’s been a while since I read it, but I enjoyed Alston’s _Perceiving God_; I actually read it not in a class on philosophy of religion but in a course on a priori knowledge (a priori knowledge as a kind of mystical intuition…). Someone who I think gets missed in the analytic/continental divide is Iris Murdoch (e.g., _Sovereignty of Good_). For an intro class though, G.E. Moore’s “Proof of an external world” is a fun, short piece. Otherwise, Gettier’s examples are good ways to stimulate discussion on what counts as knowledge.

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