, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 41–51 | Cite as

Searle on the unity of the world

  • Daniel D. NovotnyEmail author
Original Paper


According to mentalism some existing things are endowed with (subjectively) conscious minds. According to physicalism all existing things consist entirely of physical particles in fields of force. Searle holds that mentalism and physicalism are compatible and true—“the world is one”. The aim of this paper is to show that Searle fails to make the compatibility between mentalism and physicalism intelligible. The paper has three parts: first, I criticize drawing an analogy between solidity and consciousness as macro-features of systems with micro-features. Second, I argue that Searle’s defence of the ontological irreducibility of consciousness is terminologically confused and that his argument for the trivial nature of that irreducibility is unsuccessful. Third, I defend Nagel’s argument for the causal irreducibility of conscious minds by answering some of Searle’s objections to it.


Physicalism/Naturalism Reduction Mind–Body problem Searle’s ontology 



Portions of this paper have been presented at two occasions: Jednota Filozofická, Prague, 06/18/2002 and the Conference The Philosophy of John Searle, University of Buffalo 05/12/2003. I would like to thank participants of these events for stimulating discussion. For various comments concerning this paper I am grateful to Raymond Dennehy (USA), Randall Dipert (USA), Michael Gorman (USA/Germany), Ryan Kohl (USA), Constantine Sandis (UK), John R. Searle (USA). Special thanks are due to John T. Kearns (USA).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information ScienceUniversitat des SaarlandesSaarbrückenGermany

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