John Thornton's Home Page
Author. Computer Scientist. Phenomenologist.
Welcome to John Thornton’s Home page. My professional teaching and research career began in 1994 when I enrolled in an Honours degree at Griffith University in Australia. After completing a PhD in Artificial Intelligence in 2000 I became a full-time academic and now hold positions as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University’s Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems and as an Honorary Reader at the University of Sussex’s Department of Informatics in the UK.
I am also one of the founding members of the Philosophy Group at Free University Brighton where I have taught and convened courses on the phenomenology of consciousness since 2016. During my academic career I have published three books, two research theses, and more than 70 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. In addition, I have supervised ten PhD students to completion and have been a chief or principal researcher in eight government-funded research projects.
About This Site
The site contains a digital selection of my life’s work to date. Under Research you can find nearly all my published and unpublished writings, (most of which can be downloaded for free). This material can be divided into two main subject areas: artificial intelligence research and phenomenological philosophical inquiry. Expanding on this, the Books page hones in on two of my most significant publications (The Questioning of Intelligence and The Foundations of Computing and the Information Technology Age).
The Teaching page then provides links to material developed for the three most recent philosophy courses I have taught at Free University Brighton (Introduction to Phenomenology, Science, Consciousness and the Brain, and Language and Meaning), and to lecture and tutorial material I developed to support The Foundations of Computing textbook at Griffith University. I have also recorded several of the Free University philosophy classes, and provide links to these both on the Teaching page and on the Talks page.
If you are new to my work, and want to get a general idea of what I have to say, I suggest you read the beginning of the new book, The Questioning of Intelligence (see link below), and then listen to one of the introductory lectures on the Talks page. Finally, if you are interested, I provide a more personal biography in the About Me page.
New Book: The Questioning of Intelligence
I recently completed a new book – one I have been meaning to write for more than a decade. It contains a philosophical distillation of my experience of going to university in the late 1970s, dropping out, joining the commune of an Indian guru, dropping out of that, returning to university, and becoming a full-time academic in the area of artificial intelligence. After that I spent nearly two decades studying phenomenological philosophy.
Despite these autobiographical details, the book is primarily a phenomenological exploration of what it means to be intelligent. As such it is an inquiry by intelligence, of intelligence, and is the culmination of my having studied intelligence, both artificial and natural, for nearly twenty-five years. There will be a book launch and book signing on Sunday 19th September 2021 at Exeter Street Hall, Brighton BN1 5PG from 2pm to 4pm. For more details follow this link.
New Publishing Imprint: FUBText
The task of publishing The Questioning of Intelligence is part of a larger project I am involved with: that of creating a publishing imprint for Free University Brighton, called FUBText. The Intelligence book will be the first volume in the Free University Brighton Philosophy Series and is currently being reviewed by the series editors Matt Lee and Charlie Blake. Our plan is to create an alternative low-cost publishing outlet for the free university movement that is not controlled by the technocratic managerialism that now dominates our public university systems.