This volume presents eleven original essays that critically examine aspects of John Searle's seminal contributions to the philosophy of language, and explore new ways in which some of their themes could be developed. After an opening essay by Searle in which he summarizes the essentials of his conception of language and what he currently takes its most distinctive implications to be, the critical essays are grouped into two interconnected parts – “From mind to meaning” and “From meaning to force” – reflecting Searle's claim that an analysis of meaning would not be adequate if it could not integrate a proper analysis of illocutionary force and if it could not itself be integrated within a satisfactory account of mind.
Searle's views on how force, meaning, and mind are interconnected form part of the general account of intentionality (in the broad sense of an entity's being about entities other that itself) that he has developed over the years, and his opening essay includes an outline of that account, emphasizing three of its basic ideas. First, the idea that linguistic intentionality does not merely require the expression of propositions and the existence of conditions under which they might or might not be satisfied, but also the association of those propositions with illocutionary forces of various kinds, which determine the various kinds of acts (asserting, requesting, promising, etc.) that possession of a language characteristically makes possible.