Stanisław Kamiński Memorial Lectures 2001/2002

Prof. Barry SmithProf. Barry Smith
State University of New York in Buffalo

An Introductory Course
on the Forms of Social Organization

May 2002 (20-25. 05. 2002)
In his The Construction of Social Reality, John Searle defends a view of social objects - crimes, weddings, trials, presidents, priests, apologies, symphonies - as products of belief. If everyone believes that this piece of green paper is money, then it is money. If everyone believes that this woman is President, then she is the President. Beliefs depend on language. Animals do not have anything like our social reality, Searle argues, because animals do not have language. Searle's theory marks a new step forward in the ontology of social organization. But it has serious problems. Thus, as those who lived in the Communist countries of Eastern Europe know, there are parts of social reality - such as Communism itself - which can exist even though no one believes in them. More importantly, there exist many elements of social reality in relation to which different groups and individuals in society have competing, contradictory beliefs. Taking Searle's views as its starting point, the course will attempt to develop a new ontology of social organization. We shall examine the strengths and weaknesses of Searle's theory in order to provide a better account of the relations between society, culture, language and belief. We shall address such phenomena as: law and property, race and ethnicity, the role of culture and education, geography and environment.

Autor: Marcin Koszowy
Ostatnia aktualizacja: 28.02.2006, godz. 13:56 - mkoszowy