An Overview of my Work in Philosophy

In my opinion, the two main topics in the philosophy of mind are content and consciousness, and they have received about equal attention from me. As the title of my first book, Content and Consciousness suggested, that is the order in which they must be addressed: first, a theory of content or intentionality--a phenomenon more fundamental than consciousness--and then, building on that foundation, a theory of consciousness. Over the years I have found myself recapitulating this basic structure twice, partly in order to respond to various philosophical objections, but more importantly, because my research on foundational issues in cognitive science led me into different aspects of the problems. The articles in the first half of Brainstorms composed in effect a more detailed theory of content, and the articles in the second half were concerned with specific problems of consciousness. The second recapitulation devoted a separate volume to each half: The Intentional Stance is all and only about content; Consciousness Explained presupposes the theory of content in that volume and builds an expanded theory of consciousness. My more recent books, Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Kinds of Minds, extend the scope of my earlier work, bringing out the evolutionary foundations of both the theory of intentional systems and the theory of consciousness. A summary of both of these in their current versions follows a review of how I got there
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Colin McGinn (1988). Consciousness and Content. Proceedings of the British Academy 74:225-245.

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