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.--John Searle in NewPhilosopher [HT: Lucas Thorpe on FB]
There is no doubt that in old age (Searle is "past 80") some mechanisms can reduce our normal social inhibitions. I wouldn't be surprised if the reduced presence of ordinary routines of external, social control -- work, friends, spouses, etc. -- plays some role in the process. The impartial spectator within can do her job more forcefully in the presence of the right sort of real spectators, after all. And, if we can distribute some of our memories into our environment (computers, diaries, pictures, emails, etc.), why not some of our socially relevant monitoring? This idea is a kind of corollary to the idea of an 'extended mind,' which Searle -- once one of the most important professional philosophers around -- finds so upsetting.