Identity, existence, predication, necessity, and truth are fundamental philosophical concerns. Colin McGinn treats them both philosophically and logically, aiming for maximum clarity and minimum pointless formalism. He contends that there are real logical properties that challenge naturalistic metaphysical outlooks. These concepts are not definable, though we can say a good deal about how they work. The aim of Logical Properties is to bring philosophy back to philosophical logic.
Since the appearance of a widely influential book, Self-Knowledge and Self-ldentity, Sydney Shoemaker has continued to work on a series of interrelated issues in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics. This volume contains a collection of the most important essays he has published since then. The topics that he deals with here include, among others, the nature of personal and other forms of identity, the relation of time to change, the nature of properties and causality and the relation between the (...) two, dualism and immortality, and the nature of mental states. All the essays show the same care and precision in argument as the earlier book, but they also reveal a substantial shift in Professor Shoemaker's position to a form of materialism. In fact, a number of papers together constitute what is probably the most subtle and rigourous defence yet of a sophisticated functionalism in the account of the mind. (shrink)
This book investigates the subjective and objective representations of the world, developing analogies between secondary qualities and indexical thoughts and arguing that subjective representations are ineliminable. Throughout, McGinn brings together historical and contemporary discussions to illuminate old problems in a novel way.
In The Subjective View,' I defended (unoriginally) a dispositional theory of color and drew out some consequences of that theory. The dispositional theory (DT) maintains, roughly speaking, that for an object to instantiate a color property is for it to have a disposition to cause experiences as of an object having that property in normal perceivers in normal conditions. This theory has notable merits in capturing (assuming one wants them captured) the subjectivity and relativity of ascriptions of color, while allowing (...) that it is external ob- jects themselves that are colored. It makes colors both sense depen- dent and object qualifying.2 But it runs into prima facie problems in giving a plausible account of the phenomenology of color percep- tion, as I ruefully observed in my earlier book (op. cit., pp. 132-37). (shrink)
'There is much food for thought in McGinn's discussions and each chapter is rich with a series of considerations for thinking that the currently received views on the various topics have some serious difficulties that need confronting... For those interested in metaphysics and the philosophy of logic, this book will stimulate much further thought' -Mind 'The sweep of the book is broad and the pace is brisk... There is much material here to provide the basis for many a deep philosophical (...) discussion' -Mind 'Lucid and provocative little book... clear, direct and well argued' -Times Higher Education SupplementIdentity, existence, predication, necessity, and truth are fundamental philosophical concerns. Colin McGinn treats them both philosophically and logically, aiming for maximum clarity and minimum pointless formalism. He contends that there are real logical properties that challenge naturalistic metaphysical outlooks. These concepts are not definable, though we can say a good deal about how they work. The aim of Logical Properties is to bring philosophy back to philosophical logic. (shrink)
Colin McGinn presents his latest work on consciousness in ten interlinked papers, four of them previously unpublished. He extends and deepens his controversial solution to the mind-body problem, defending the view that consciousness is both ontologically unproblematic and epistemologically impenetrable. He also investigates the basis of our knowledge that there is a mind-body problem, and the bearing of this on attempted solutions. McGinn goes on to discuss the status of first-person authority, the possibility of atomism with respect to consciousness, extreme (...) dualism, and the role of non-existent objects in constituting intentionality. He argues that traditional claims about our knowledge of our own mind and of the external world can be inverted; that atomism about the conscious mind might turn out to be true; that dualism is more credible the more extreme it is; and that all intentionality involves non-existent objects. These are all surprising positions, but he contends that what the philosophy of mind needs now is 'methodological radicalism' - a willingness to consider new and seemingly extravagant ideas. (shrink)
McGinn's latest brings together moral philosophy and literary analysis in a way that illuminates both. Setting out to enrich the domain of moral reflection by showing the value of literary texts as sources of moral illumination, McGinn starts by setting out an uncompromisingly realist ethical theory, arguing that morality is an area of objective truth and genuine knowledge. He goes on to address such subjects as the nature of goodness, evil character, and the meaning of monstrosity in the context of (...) an aesthetic theory of virtue, which maintains that goodness of character is the same thing as beauty of soul. Looking at such literary works as Billy Budd, Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Frankenstein, as well as examples from film and painting, Ethics, Evil, and Fiction is an original and compelling book by a leading philosopher who is also a critic and novelist. (shrink)
As the subtitle indicates, this book is concerned with the relationship between consciousness and the physical world. It recommends a novel and disturbingly pessimistic view about this topic that it calls “naturalistic mysterianism.” The view is naturalistic because it maintains that states of consciousness are reducible to physical properties of the brain. It counts as “mysterian” because it asserts that the physical properties in question are entirely beyond our ken—that they lie well beyond the scope of contemporary neuroscience, and quite (...) likely beyond the scope of any body of scientific knowledge that we might develop in the future. Naturalistic mysterianism thus affirms the unity of consciousness with the physical world, while also claiming that the nature of that unity will forever elude us, due to inherent limits of our cognitive capacities. (shrink)
Whether it's conkers in the schoolyard, kicking a football in the park, or playing tennis on Wimbledon Centre Court, sport impacts all of our lives. But what is sport and why do we do it? Colin McGinn, renowned philosopher , reflects on our love of sport and explores the value it has for us and the part it plays in a life lived well. Written in the form of a memoir, McGinn discusses many of the sports he has engaged in (...) - from pole-vaulting and gymnastics to windsurfing and tennis - and describes the athletic experience from the inside, as a participant, articulating what is uniquely valuable about sport as an activity. Sport, argues McGinn, takes us to our fullest potential as human beings, it's what we fling at mortality to keep it at bay, a holiday from the Unbearable Heaviness of Being. "Sport" expresses our nature, it bears upon our self-realization. If a happy life consists in one that expresses fully our natural faculties, then sports must play an essential role in our lifes. Mind-body unity, the nature of practical knowledge and physical skill, success and failure, the ethics of competition, peak experiences, the spectacle of professional sport, aesthetics and death, McGinn discusses these and many other issues while telling of his own sporting mishaps and adventures. To use the vernacular of philosophy, "Sport" captures the phenomenology of sport - what it's like to do it - and in doing so shows how sport is a way of expressing and understanding who and what we are, way beyond whether we are a good sportsman, a bad loser or a team-player. For anyone who has ever thought that there must be less humiliating ways to enjoy yourself than being thrashed on the tennis court, "Sport" will reassure you that it's time not wasted. (shrink)
The Character of Mind provides a sweeping and accessible general introduction to the philosophy of mind. Colin McGinn covers all of the main topics--the mind-body problem, the nature of acquaintance, the relation between thought and language, agency, and the self.In particular, McGinn addresses the issue of consciousness, and the difficulty of combining the two very different perspectives on the mind that arise from introspection and from the observation of other people. This second edition has been updated with three new cutting-edge (...) chapters on consciousness, content, and cognitive science to make it the reader of choice on this vital topic. (shrink)
Knowledge and Reality brings together a selection of Colin McGinn's philosophical essays from the 1970s to the 1990s, whose unifying theme is the relation between the mind and the world. McGinn defends a realist view, but emphasises the epistemological problems that come with it. He has written a new postscript to each essay, placing it in its philosophical context and offering his current reflections on the topic.