Entries by Colin McGinn

The Motion-Body Problem

  The Motion-Body Problem     “For I would fain know what substance exists that has not something in it, which manifestly baffles our understanding. Other spirits, who see and know the nature and inward constitution of things, how much must they exceed us in knowledge?” John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 4, chapter […]

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The Limits of Predication

        The Limits of Predication     A realist will hold that there may be properties of objects we don’t know about, even can’t know about. Kant holds that the noumenal world consists of just such instantiated properties.[1]Human knowledge is limited and doesn’t necessarily extend to every property of objects. But it […]

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The Mystery of Motion

    The Mystery of Motion     Consider a completely static universe—nothing moves in it. Within this universe there lies a sun and solar system just like ours except nothing is in motion, relatively or absolutely. Now ask yourself the question, “How would it move, if it were to move?” Can we infer from […]

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Painting, Music, and Science

    Painting, Music, and Science     You might embark on a self-improving trip to London and take in the Science Museum and the National Gallery. You would probably not experience any affinity between the two: the museum deals with science while the gallery exhibits art. There was no art in the science museum […]

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Fiction, Fact, and Science

  Fiction, Fact, and Science     A library divides its books into two sections: fiction and non-fiction. The assumption is that fiction is concerned with fictions while non-fiction is concerned with facts. Science books will appear in the non-fiction section, being concerned with facts. Novels will appear in the fiction section, being concerned with […]

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Against Family Resemblance

  Against Family Resemblance     After the well-known section on games in Philosophical Investigations(section 66), Wittgenstein writes: “I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than ‘family resemblances’; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, color of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the […]

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Modal Objectivism

      Modal Objectivism     It is now almost fifty years since Kripke made his celebrated distinction between epistemic and metaphysical necessity.[1]He pointed out that not all necessary truths are known a priori: for example, it is not a priorithat this table is made of wood, but it is a necessary truth—this very […]

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Generative Economics

Darwin’s theory of evolution includes two generative components: mutation and natural selection. Mutation generates genetic variants and hence phenotypes; natural selection operates on these to produce differential survival. Neither of these generative processes involves intention or intelligence. Thus we have biological novelty without intentional intelligent design. Both processes are blind and driven by non-mental causes. […]

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