Best footnote I’ve read today

At the bottom of page 52 in Searle’s Construction of Social Reality, where he’s discussing the seemingly self-referentiality of the definition of things like money i.e. money is money because people believe it is money, there is a footnote…

*In the Random House Dictionary, one of the definitions given for “tool” is : “anything that can be used as tool.” As a definition, that seems pretty dumb, but it is not quite as dumb as it looks. You could not define “screwdriver” as “anything that can be used as a screwdriver,” because lots of things can be used as screwdrivers that are not screwdrivers, for instance, coins. But since “tool,” unlike “screwdriver,” names a very large class of agentive functions, anything that can be used as a tool is, roughly speaking, a tool.

Self-referentiality is fun. Talking about self-referentiality is funner… My head will explode if Searle starts to talk about talking about self-referentiality. The problem is that this is a real possibility because he’s written most extensively on “speech acts.”

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2 Responses to “Best footnote I’ve read today”


  1. 1 SWong October 11, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    Try substituting “weapon” for “tool,” and the observation still works =D

  2. 2 Will October 12, 2006 at 1:02 am

    You have the mind of a half-life modder…


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