Also, an interview with him.
What do you do differently from the everyday person? Do you get up early and read texts by ancient philosophers?
John Searle: I don’t watch television very much. . . . I think it is clear that the media have had an enormous effect on our sensibility. It’s very hard to know what the long-term effect of this is, but I think there’s no question that we’re getting an impoverished sensibility as a result of overexposure to electronic media. I don’t read much philosophy, it upsets me when I read the nonsense written by my contemporaries, the theory of extended mind makes me want to throw up . . . so mostly I read works of fiction and history. I love reading history books and I love reading works of fiction, there’s just an enormous amount of great stuff written.
Faulkner, the great American modernists, I can’t tell you the influence they’ve had on me. No philosopher has influenced me as much as Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald – they’ve had an enormous influence on my whole sensibility – and the whole American modernist tradition. There are so many great history books and great novels, not to mention poetry and other forms of literature, that I spend much more time on literature than I do on philosophy. I’m not boasting about that, I’m complaining, I probably should read more philosophy than I do. But I think a lot of works of philosophy are like root-canal work, you just think you’ve got to get through that damn thing.
My great obsession of course is skiing, and I do ski like a nut. However I have to tell you, once you get past 80 you are just not as good at giant slalom as you used to be. I’m not going to make the next Olympic team.