The uniqueness of each standpoint, each point of effect, can only be "overcome" by the standpoint changing to other standpoints and returning. In such alternation, which can also appear as constant change, lies the unity of the world. The wholeness of an alternation, however, is a structure of consciousness due to the special relationship between the circumscribing periphery and the infinitesimal center. This process structure unites determinacy and indeterminacy also totally in every place. Therefore, everywhere we are dealing with forms (...) of consciousness with more or less freedom of choice and an increasingly unknown depth. We live in a world of choosing consciousness, or rather awareness. In this respect, our environment expresses a deep truth about ourselves. (shrink)
The most pressing worry for panpsychism is arguably the combination problem, the problem of intelligibly explaining how the experiences of microphysical entities combine to form the experiences of macrophysical entities such as ourselves. This chapter argues that the combination problem is similar in kind to other problems of mental combination that are problems for everyone: the problem of phenomenal unity, the problem of mental structure, and the problem of new quality spaces. The ubiquity of combination problems suggests the ignorance hypothesis, (...) the hypothesis that we are ignorant of certain key facts about mental combination, which allows the panpsychist to avoid certain objections based on the combination problem. (shrink)
In this paper, I respond to Kriegel’s criticism of McGinn’s mysterianism. Kriegel objects to a particular argument for the possibility of human cognitive closure and also gives a direct argument against mysterianism. I intend to show that neither the objection nor the argument is convincing.
According to some philosophers, we are “cognitively closed” to the answers to certain problems. McGinn has taken the next step and offered a list of examples: the mind/body problem, the problem of the self and the problem of free will. There are naturalistic, scientific answers to these problems, he argues, but we cannot reach them because of our cognitive limitations. In this paper, we take issue with McGinn's thesis as the most well-developed and systematic one among the so-called “new mysterians”. (...) McGinn aims to establish a strong, representational notion of cognitive closure: a principled inaccessibility of a true theory of certain properties of the world, but he offers arguments that only bear on difficulties with psychologically grasping the correct answers. The latter we label psychological closure. We argue that representational closure does not follow from psychological closure, and that McGinn's case therefore falters. We could very well be able to represent the correct answer to some question, even without being able to grasp that answer psychologically. McGinn's mistake in deriving representational closure from psychological closure rests on a fallacy of equivocation relating to the concept of ‘understanding’. By making this distinction explicit, we hope to improve our thinking about the limits of science in particular and human knowledge in general. (shrink)
There are two claims that are central to McGinn’s mysterianism: (1) there is a naturalist and constructive solution of the mind-body problem, and (2) we human beings are incapable in principle of solving the mind-body problem. I believe (1) and (2) are compatible: the truth of one does not entail the falsity of the other. However, I will argue that the reasons McGinn presents for thinking that (2) is true are incompatible with the truth of (1), at least on a (...) fairly standard conception of the terms ‘naturalist’ and ‘constructive’, which McGinn himself seems to take for granted. (shrink)
In this paper, I aim to show that McGinn’s argument from analogy for the possibility of human cognitive closure survives the critique raised on separate occasions by Dennett and Kriegel. I will distinguish between linguistic and non-linguistic cognitive closure and argue that the analogy argument from animal non-linguistic cognitive closure goes untouched by the objection Dennett and Kriegel raises.
This paper discusses the ecological case for epistemic innocence: does biased cognition have evolutionary benefits, and if so, does that exculpate human reasoners from irrationality? Proponents of ‘ecological rationality’ have challenged the bleak view of human reasoning emerging from research on biases and fallacies. If we approach the human mind as an adaptive toolbox, tailored to the structure of the environment, many alleged biases and fallacies turn out to be artefacts of narrow norms and artificial set-ups. However, we argue that (...) putative demonstrations of ecological rationality involve subtle locus shifts in attributions of rationality, conflating the adaptive rationale of heuristics with our own epistemic credentials. By contrast, other cases also involve an ecological reframing of human reason, but do not involve such problematic locus shifts. We discuss the difference between these cases, bringing clarity to the rationality debate. (shrink)
In this article, I aim to present some of the reasons why consciousness is viewed as an intractable problem by many philosophers. Furthermore, I will argue that if these reasons are properly appreciated, then McGinn’s so-called mysterianism may not sound as far-fetched as it would otherwise sound.
From the premise that our biology imposes cognitive constraints on our epistemic activities, a series of prominent authors – most notably Fodor, Chomsky and McGinn – have argued that we are cognitively closed to certain aspects and properties of the world. Cognitive constraints, they argue, entail cognitive closure. I argue that this is not the case. More precisely, I detect two unwarranted conflations at the core of arguments deriving closure from constraints. The first is a conflation of what I will (...) refer to as ‘representation’ and ‘object of representation’. The second confuses the cognitive scope of the assisted mind for that of the unassisted mind. Cognitive closure, I conclude, cannot be established from pointing out the (uncontroversial) existence of cognitive constraints. (shrink)
This thesis introduces the Problem of Consciousness as an antinomy between Physicalism and Primitivism about the phenomenal. I argue that Primitivism is implausible, but is supported by two conceptual gaps. The ‘–tivity gap’ holds that physical states are objective and phenomenal states are subjective, and that there is no entailment from the objective to the subjective. The ‘–trinsicality gap’ holds that physical properties are extrinsic and phenomenal qualities are intrinsic, and that there is no entailment from the extrinsic to the (...) intrinsic. Stoljar’s Epistemic View (EV) suggests that we have a limited conception of the physical world, and that the apparent inexplicability of consciousness is merely a symptom of our ignorance. I argue that EV must satisfy two conditions which require it to specify the content of our ignorance. EV’s best hope is a Russellian appeal to our ignorance of intrinsic physical properties. After arguing in favour of this ignorance claim, I show how it undermines the –trinsicality gap. However, I suggest that the –tivity gap cannot be dealt with by the Russellian ignorance hypothesis, nor by any other version of EV. However, I then argue that the Russellian ignorance hypothesis can still be deployed as half of a hybrid account of the phenomenal. Representationalist theories of consciousness have difficulty with the –trinsicality gap, but show promise with the –tivity gap. Specifically, Kriegel’s Self-Representationalism indicates that there can indeed be an entailment from objective physical states to subjective phenomenal states. This paves the way for my hybrid account of consciousness: the subjectivity of a phenomenal state is the product of its self-representational structure, and the qualitative character of a phenomenal state is the product of the epistemically inaccessible intrinsic physical properties involved in its implementation. (shrink)
I show that the recursive structure of Leibniz's Law requires agents to perform infinitely many operations to psychologically identify the referents of phenomenal and physical concepts, even though the referents of ordinary concepts (e.g. Hesperus and Phosphorus) can be identified in a finite number of steps. The resulting problem resembles the hard problem of consciousness in the fact that it appears (and indeed is) unsolvable by anyone for whom it arises, and in the fact that it invites dualist and eliminativist (...) responses. Moreover, if this is the hard problem then we can predict that regardless of the strength of the argument for physicalism, and regardless of physicalism's truth, an ineliminable dissatisfaction is bound to accompany any physicalist theory of consciousness. Accordingly, I suggest that this is the hard problem of consciousness, and therefore that the hard problem arises from a recursively degenerate application of Leibniz's Law. (shrink)
In this paper I present statements of the British philosopher Colin McGinn, about the mind-body problem. I depict the concept of “cognitive closure” and related with it „new mysterianism” according to which consciousness may be a mystery in the epistemological field but not in the ontological. Consciousness exists and has its own explanation, but its character is hidden by the limitation of our cognitive powers. I discuss his hypothesis of transcendental naturalism according to which both our limitation as well as (...) solution of body-mind problem are entirely natural feature of reality. I also touch upon a question of DIME shape. Key words MCGINN, MIND-BODY PROBLEM, COGNITIVE CLOSURE. (shrink)
The article discusses the proposals for replying to the skeptical challenge developed by the so-called Neo-mysterians, and more particularly by the most eloquent of them, Colin McGinn. McGinn’s version of mysterianism, which he labels “Transcendental Naturalism,” is a very candid and rigorous form of scientific naturalism since (contrary to the standard naturalistic views) it is prepared to concede both that the attempts to reduce philosophically controversial phenomena – such as knowledge, free will, consciousness, meaning and the self – do not (...) work and that those phenomena cannot be eliminated from our worldview. But McGinn is criticized nonetheless since he concludes from such irreducibility and ineliminability that, for our species at least, philosophical riddles will always remain unsolvable “mysteries.” It is argued that a much more plausible conclusion would be to question the legitimacy of some of the premises from which McGinn draws his “mysterian” conclusion. More specifically, it is claimed that McGinn’s thesis that genuine explanations have to have a bottom-up, aggregative format is an unreasonable one. (shrink)
Resenha do livro de McGinn, Colin. Shakespeare ’s Philosophy : Discovering the meaning Behind the Plays [A filosofia de Shakespeare : descobrindo o significado atrás das peças]. New York: Harper, 2008. 230 páginas.
In a series of influential articles Jaegwon Kim has developed strong arguments against nonreductive physicalism as a possible solution to the problem of mental causation. One of them is the Supervenience Argument which states that assuming the mental/physical supervenience thesis, the causal closure principle, the exclusion principle with the no-overdetermination requirement and property dualism we obtain the conclusion that mental causation is unintelligible. On the other hand Collin McGinn has argued that a solution to the mind-body problem is forever beyond (...) our reach: we can never understand how the brain produces consciousness and therefore the relation between them must remain mysterious. The main aim of the paper is to demonstrate that Kim's Supervenience Argument corroborates McGinn's pessimistic conclusion (of course, if we do not assume any form of reductive physicalism or epiphenomenalism). Thereby it tries to show that the Supervenience Argument could be treated as a justification of non-constructive naturalism (aka new misterianism): we do not understand mental causation, because we cannot understand how the brain generates consciousness. It also suggest considering possibility that the thesis of causal closure of the physical domain might entail the cognitive closure thesis (the claim that those properties of the brain which are responsible for conscious processes are in principle cognitively closed to us). (shrink)
Being surrounded by bullshit is one thing. Having your mind fucked is quite another. The former is irritating, but the latter is violating and intrusive . If someone manipulates your thoughts and emotions, messing with your head, you naturally feel resentment: he or she has distorted your perceptions, disturbed your feelings, maybe even usurped your self. Mindfucking is a prevalent aspect of contemporary culture and the agent can range from an individual to a whole state, from personal mind games to (...) wholesale propaganda.In "Mindfucking", Colin McGinn investigates and clarifies this phenomenon, taking in the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and modern techniques of thought control. McGinn assembles the conceptual components of this most complex of concepts - trust, deception, emotion, manipulation, false belief, vulnerability - and explores its very nature. Is philosophy, as a discipline, a type of mindfuck, asks McGinn? Is romantic love a species of mindfuck? The essence is psychological upheaval or disorientation, often abetted by the weaknesses of the victim. Jealousy, insecurity and prejudice can aid the mindfuck. Delusion is the general result, sometimes insanity. How mindfucked are you? It's hard to say from the inside, but being aware of the phenomenon offers at least some protection. (shrink)
Being surrounded by bullshit is one thing. Having your mind fucked is quite another. The former is irritating, but the latter is violating and intrusive. If someone manipulates your thoughts and emotions, messing with your head, you naturally feel resentment: he or she has distorted your perceptions, disturbed your feelings, maybe even usurped your self. Mindfucking is a prevalent aspect of contemporary culture and the agent can range from an individual to a whole state, from personal mind games to wholesale (...) propaganda.In "Mindfucking", Colin McGinn investigates and clarifies this phenomenon, taking in the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and modern techniques of thought control. McGinn assembles the conceptual components of this most complex of concepts - trust, deception, emotion, manipulation, false belief, vulnerability - and explores its very nature. Is philosophy, as a discipline, a type of mindfuck, asks McGinn? Is romantic love a species of mindfuck? The essence is psychological upheaval or disorientation, often abetted by the weaknesses of the victim. Jealousy, insecurity and prejudice can aid the mindfuck. Delusion is the general result, sometimes insanity. How mindfucked are you? It's hard to say from the inside, but being aware of the phenomenon offers at least some protection. (shrink)
This paper looks at an argument strategy for assessing the epistemic closure principle. This is the principle that says knowledge is closed under known entailment; or (roughly) if S knows p and S knows that p entails q, then S knows that q. The strategy in question looks to the individual conditions on knowledge to see if they are closed. According to one conjecture, if all the individual conditions are closed, then so too is knowledge. I give a deductive argument (...) for this conjecture. According to a second conjecture, if one (or more) condition is not closed, then neither is knowledge. I give an inductive argument for this conjecture. In sum, I defend the strategy by defending the claim that knowledge is closed if, and only if, all the conditions on knowledge are closed. After making my case, I look at what this means for the debate over whether knowledge is closed. (shrink)
In this paper I shall discuss McGinn's transcendental naturalism and the reasons he gives in order to show that philosophy will always be just a cluster of mysteries without answers. I shall show that the three main arguments he gives for TN are inconclusive and that a modular architecture of the mind he presupposes is not committed to the epistemic thesis of TN, the idea that we are "cognitively closed" to answering some questions about consciousness, meaning, knowledge and the like. (...) /// En este trabajo discutiré el naturalismo trascendental que defiende McGinn y las razones que ofrece para mostrar que la filosofía será por siempre un cúmulo de misterios sin respuesta. Mostraré que ninguno de los tres argumentos principales que McGinn propone en favor de su positión es concluyente y que la estructura modular de la mente que presupone no está comprometida con la tesis epistémica del NT, esto es, con la idea de que estamos "cognitivamente cerrados" para responder preguntas acerca de la conciencia, el significado, la libertad, el conocimiento, etc. (shrink)
Anyone who has been around analytic philosophy the past 20 years knows that consciousness is in. These days much effort is spent playing whack-a-dualist. It seems that anyone who is anyone has written a book on the metaphysics of mind. Colin McGinn's new book marks a refreshing departure from this trend. Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning discusses the role imagination plays in the way we represent the world; the role it plays in dreams and some mental illnesses; and the fundamental role (...) it plays in belief and meaning. (shrink)
The paper discusses Colin McGinn’s mysterianist approach to the phenomenon of consciousness. According to McGinn, consciousness is, in and of itself, a fully natural phenomenon, but we humans are just cognitively closed to it, meaning that we cannot in principle understand its nature. I argue that, on a proper conception of the relation between an intellectual problem and its solution, we may well not know what the solution is to a problem we understand, or we may not understand exactly what (...) the problem is, but it is incoherent to suppose that we cannot understand what would count as a solution to a problem we can and do understand. The argument appeals to certain accepted assumption in the logic of questions, developed in the early sixties, mainly by Stahl. I close with a general characterization of mysterianism as such, and formulate a form of mysterianism which is in some sense more optimistic and in another more pessimistic than McGinn’s. (shrink)