Entries by Colin McGinn

Philosophical Events

    Philosophical Events     There are many types of event: physical, chemical, astronomical, biological, psychological, social, economic, historical, cultural. Each type of event has its own science or field of study, so that disciplines are identified via types of event. In general, these disciplines describe, predict, and explain the events that form their […]

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Happy Families

    Happy Families     “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This famous remark by Tolstoy usually provokes a wry smile and a sage nod, but is it true and what exactly does it mean? We may paraphrase it thus: there is only one kind […]

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The Concept of Miracle

      The Concept of Miracle     Where do we get the concept of the miraculous? Why does that concept seem compelling to us? Why do we take to it so readily? It is not, to be sure, from the observation of miracles, in the style of empiricism—we don’t have perceptions of actual […]

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Discrete and Continuous

    Discrete and Continuous     Philosophy is awash in grand dichotomies—particular and general, mind and body, fact and value, finite and infinite, being and nothingness. Reality is held to divide into two large categories and the relations between them are mapped. But there is one dichotomy that is seldom discussed by philosophers, though […]

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Realisms and Anti-Realisms

    Realisms and Anti-Realisms     We reflexively speak of realism and anti-realism, as if we had a dichotomy of positions: you are either a realist or an anti-realist about a given subject matter. But this is too simple: there is a range of positions going from one extreme to another, depending upon the […]

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Fiona and Me

      Fiona and Me     I was watching the impeachment hearings on Thursday waiting for Dr. Fiona Hill to begin her testimony, expecting to hear an American woman speak. When she started speaking I immediately knew she was English by origin and a few seconds later recognized her accent as characteristic of […]

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What is Belief?

    What is Belief?     For all the work that has been done on the topic of belief, do we really know what belief is?[1] What kind of state (if state it be) is the belief state? Two suggestions have been prominent: belief is a feeling and belief is a disposition. Either belief […]

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Knowledge and Human Nature

    Knowledge and Human Nature     An alien observer of human cognitive development would be struck by a fact he might be tempted to describe as paradoxical. This is that in the first five years or so of life development is rapid and impressive while subsequent learning tends to be slow and laborious. […]

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