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Searle, John (1932- )

American philosopher. Expanding on the work of J.L. Austin, Searle's Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language (1969) treats all communication as instances of the performance of speech acts. In Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (1983) and The Rediscovery of the Mind (1992) Searle emphasizes the irreducibility of consciousness and intentionality to the merely physical elements of human existence. The "Chinese Room" thought-experiment in his "Minds, Brains, and Programs" (1980) purports to show that even effective computer simulations do not embody genuine intelligence, since rule-governed processes need not rely upon understanding by those who perform them.

Recommended Reading: John R. Searle, Minds, Brains and Science (Harvard, 1986); John R. Searle, Mind, Language, and Society: Philosophy in the Real World (Basic, 2000); John R. Searle, The Mystery of Consciousness (N. Y. Review, 1997); John R. Searle, The Construction of Social Reality (Free Press, 1997); John Searle, Rationality in Action (MIT, 2002); John Searle, Consciousness and Language (Cambridge, 2002); Nick Fotion, John Searle (Princeton, 2001); John Searle and His Critics, ed. by Robert Van Gulick and Ernest Lepore (Blackwell, 1993); and William Hirstein, On Searle (Wadsworth, 2000).

Also see IEP, SEP, ELC, EB, and David L. Thompson.

secondary qualities

The extrinsic features that things produce in us when we perceive them, as opposed to the primary qualities the things are supposed to have in themselves. Locke.

Recommended Reading: Selected Philosophical Papers of Robert Boyle (Hackett, 1991); P. M. S. Hacker, Appearance and Reality: A Philosophical Investigation into Perception and Perceptual Qualities (Blackwell, 1986); Colin McGinn, The Subjective View: Secondary Qualities and Indexical Thoughts (Clarendon, 1983).

Also see IEP and John Locke.

secundum quid

Latin for "according to something" (in contrast with simpliciter). Hence, a common abbreviation for "a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid" and "a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter," Latin designations for the informal fallacies of accident and converse accident.


Avoidance or outright denial of unpleasant aspects of reality, especially those which might otherwise warrant an unfavorable opinion about ourselves. Thus, for example, the wishful thought, "I'm not really addicted to nicotine; I could quit smoking any time." is clearly self-deceptive.

Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre condemned self-deception as bad faith, or an inauthentic response to the anxiety produced by contemplation of human freedom.

Although most of us retrospectively acknowledge the role of such a practice in our own lives, it isn't clear what makes it possible for a single person to be both deceived and deceiver. How can I both know the truth and yet keep it from myself at the same time? Unless the deception is entirely unconscious, there must be some degree of willful disregard of the evidence that I suspect would lead to the unpleasant truth I would rather not face.

Recommended Reading: Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, tr. by Hazel E. Barnes (Washington Square, 1993); Perspectives on Self-Deception, ed. by Brian P. McLaughlin and Amelia O. Rorty (California, 1988); Alfred R. Mele, Self-Deception Unmasked (Princeton, 2001); Daniel P. Goleman, Vital Lies Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception (Touchstone, 1996); Mike W. Martin, Self-Deception and Morality (Kansas, 1988); Herbert Fingarette, Self-Deception (California, 2000); Alfred R. Mele, Irrationality: An Essay on Akrasia, Self-Deception, and Self-Control (Oxford, 1992); and Annette Barnes, Seeing Through Self-Deception (Cambridge, 1998).

Also see SEP on self-deception and self-knowledge.


Certainly known without proof. The notion of self-evidence is commonly assimilated either to that of a priori knowledge or to that of logical tautology.

Also see EB.

Sellars, Wilfrid (1912-1989)

American philosopher; author of Science, Perception, and Reality (1963) and Essays in Philosophy and its History (1974). Sellars employed the methods of logical positivism and analytic philosophy to forge a unique account of human knowledge. In "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (1956) Sellars tried to develop functional descriptions of human behavior by means of which to reconcile intentionality with materialism.

Recommended Reading: Wilfrid Sellars, Philosophical Perspectives: Metaphysics and Epistemology (Ridgeview, 1967); Wilfrid Sellars, Philosophical Perspectives: History of Philosophy (Ridgeview, 1979); Wilfrid Sellars, Naturalism and Ontology (Ridgeview, 1980); C. Delaney, The Synoptic Vision: Essays on the Philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars (Notre Dame, 1977); and Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind," Including the Complete Text of Sellars's Essay, ed. by Willam A. DeVries and Tim Triplett (Hackett, 2000).

Also see Andrew Chrucky, SEP, ELC, EB, and DPM.

semantic theory of truth

Belief that any claim that a proposition is true can be made only as a formal requirement regarding the language in which the proposition itself is expressed. Thus, according to Tarski, "It rained today" is true if and only if it rained today. The distinction between different levels of language employed by this theory is presumed to offer a convenient evasion of otherwise troublesome semantic paradoxes.

Recommended Reading: Richard L. Kirkham, Theories of Truth: A Critical Introduction (Bradford, 1995); Theories of Truth, ed. by Paul Horwich (Dartmouth, 1994); and Truth, ed. by Simon Blackburn and Keith Simmons (Oxford, 1999).


Theory of meaning; study of the signification of signs or symbols, as opposed to their formal relations (syntactics).

Recommended Reading: , ed. by Shalom Lappin (Blackwell, 1997); Gennaro Chierchia and Sally McConnell-Ginet, Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics (MIT, 2000); F. R. Palmer, Semantics (Cambridge, 1981); The Linguistic Turn: Essays in Philosophical Method, ed. by Richard M. Rorty (Chicago, 1992); Robert C. Stalnaker, Context and Content: Essays on Intentionality in Speech and Thought (Oxford, 1999); and Henriette De Swart, Introduction to Natural Language Semantics (C S L I, 1998).

Also see Ned Block, DPM, and EB.


Theory of signs, comprising both semantics and syntactics, especially in the philosophy of language of Peirce and Saussure.

Recommended Reading: Charles Morris, Signs, Language, and Behavior (Braziller, 1955); Umberto Eco, Theory of Semiotics (Indiana, 1979); Thomas A. Sebeok, Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics (Toronto, 1995); Winfried Noth, Handbook of Semiotics (Indiana, 1995); and Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language (Indiana, 1986).

Also see SEP and EB.

Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (4 B.C.E.-65 C.E.)

Roman statesman whose Epistulae Morales (Moral Letters) and Dialogi (Dialogues) propounded the stoic philosophy, of which his suicide was popularly taken to be an exemplary application.

Recommended Reading: Seneca: Essays and Letters, tr. by Moses Hadas (Norton, 1968); Seneca: Moral and Political Essays, ed. by John M. Cooper and J. F. Procope (Cambridge, 1995); and Seneca: A Critical Bibliography, 1900-1980: Scholarship on His Life, Thought, Prose, and Influence, ed. by Anna L. Motto (Hakkert, 1989).

Also see SEP and EB.

sensation {Gk. αισθησις [aisthêsis]}

Conscious experience or feeling that apparently conveys awareness of the external world. Empiricists commonly suppose that sensations are the basis for our a posteriori knowledge of the world.

Recommended Reading: Austen Clark, Sensory Qualities (Oxford, 1996); Alphonso Lingis, Sensation: Intelligibility in Sensibility (Humanity, 1996); Christopher S. Hill, Sensations: A Defense of Type Materialism (Cambridge, 1991); and Christopher Peacocke, Sense and Content: Experience, Thought, and Their Relations (Oxford, 1993).

Also see EB.

sense / reference {Ger. Sinn / Bedeutung}

Distinction about the meaning of words introduced by Frege. The sense of an expression is the thought it expresses, while its reference is the object it represents. Since the ability to use a term presupposes familiarity with its sense but not knowledge of its reference, statements of identity can be genuinely informative when they link two terms with the same reference but distinct senses, as in "The husband of Barbara Bush is the President who succeeded Ronald Reagan."

Recommended Reading: The Frege Reader, ed. by Michael Beaney (Blackwell, 1997); Wolfgang Carl, Frege's Theory of Sense and Reference: Its Origins and Scope (Cambridge, 1994); Frege: Sense and Reference One Hundred Years Later, ed. by John Biro and Peter Kotatko (Kluwer, 1995); and Gideon Makin, Metaphysicians of Meaning: Frege and Russell on Sense and Denotation (Routledge, 2001).

Also see DPM and Kent Bach.

sense data

Immediate objects of sensation, also known as sensa or sensibilia, especially in representationalist theories of perception.

Recommended Reading: Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford, 1998); J. L. Austin, Sense and Sensibilia, ed. by Geoffrey J. Warnock (Oxford, 1962); R. J. Hirst, Problems of Perception (Prometheus, 1992); and D. M. Armstrong, A World of States of Affairs (Cambridge, 1997).

Also see SEP and EB.

Seth (Pringle-Pattison), Andrew (1856-1931)
Seth Pringle-Pattison

Scottish idealist who regarded the personality of the individual human being as the central unifying element in the construction of knowledge of reality.

Recommended Reading: Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Philosophy of Religion (AMS, 1979) and Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, Scottish Philosophy: A Comparison of the Scottish and German Answers to Hume.

Sextus Empiricus (c. 200)
Sextus Empiricus

Ancient skeptic who defended the practical viability of Pyrrhonism as the only way of life that results in genuine αταραξια [ataraxia] in Pyrrhonian Hypotyposeis (Outlines of Pyrrhonism). The translation into Latin of Sextus's comprehensive criticisms of ancient schools of thought in Adversos Mathematicos (Against the Dogmatists) provided an important resource for the development of modern skepticism during the sixteenth century.

Recommended Reading: The Original Sceptics: A Controversy, ed. by Myles Burnyeat and Michael Frede (Hackett, 1997); Tad Brennan, Ethics and Epistemology in Sextus Empircus (Garland, 1999); and Luciano Floridi, Sextus Empiricus: The Transmission and Recovery of Pyrrhonism (Oxford, 2001).

Also see SEP, EB, and ELC.

Shaftesbury, Third Earl of (Anthony Ashley Cooper) (1671-1713)

English moral essayist. Raised in genteel circumstances by his grandfather, one of the Lords Proprietor of the Carolina colonies and a close associate of Locke, Shaftesbury proposed a set of practical rules for living that he claimed to arise from the natural dispositions of all human beings, without any reliance on divine revelation in An Inquiry concerning Virtue or Merit (1699). This was an important step in the development of the notion of a moral sense by Hutcheson and Hume. Shaftesbury's works were collected in Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times (1711).

Recommended Reading: The Shaftesbury Collection (Thoemmes, 1997); John L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, Lord Shaftesbury (Ayer, 1970); Lawrence E. Klein, Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1994); and John Andrew Bernstein, Shaftesbury, Rousseau, and Kant: An Introduction to the Conflict Between Aesthetic and Moral Values in Modern Thought (Fairleigh Dickinson, 1980).

Also see SEP, IEP, EB, and ELC.

Sheffer stroke
 p  q  p |

A truth-functional connective that suffices to symbolize every dyadic relation between statements. Since " p | q " (or "not both p and q") takes the truth-values illustrated in the truth-table at right, negation can be defined as " p | p ," and disjunction as " ( p | p ) | ( q | q ) ." From these, in turn, all of the other connectives can be derived.

Recommended Reading: Willard V. O. Quine, Mathematical Logic (Harvard, 1981) and Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Arthur Russell, Principia Mathematica to *56 (Cambridge, 1997).


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