Entries by Colin McGinn

Introspective Invariance

  Introspective Invariance     Our knowledge of the external world is subject to much variation in type and degree of access. We don’t always perceive accurately or clearly or with the same amount of revelation. There are illusions, occlusions, blurring, darkness, variations in appearance, constancy effects, blindness (partial or total), stimulus overload, perspectival disparities, […]

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Thinking as the Good

      The Good Life As Thinking Well     What is the good life for a human being? It is hard to think of a more pressing and important question, or an older one.[1]Two remarks on the question, as so formulated, should be made immediately. The first is that there might be several […]

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Impressions of Existence

    Impressions of Existence     You wake up in the morning and you become conscious of the world again. For a while nothing existed for you, but now existence floods back. You become aware of external objects, of space, of time, of yourself, of your mental states. I shall say that you have […]

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Pain and Unintelligent Design

  Pain and Unintelligent Design     Pain is a very widespread biological adaptation. Pain receptors are everywhere in the animal world. Evidently pain serves the purposes of the genes—it enables survival. It is not just a by-product or holdover; it is specifically functional. To a first approximation we can say that pain serves the […]

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Being Here

      Human Contingency     There are two views about the existence of humans on this planet: one view says that human existence was inevitable, a natural culmination, just a matter of time; the other view says that human existence is an accident, an unpredictable anomaly, just a matter of luck (I am […]

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Puzzling Pimples

      Puzzling Pimples     The philosophy of pimples is an underdeveloped subject. Why do we react to them with such revulsion? The other night I was watching TV (Jimmy Kimmel Live, 14 August, 2018) and was treated to some footage of assorted people looking at film of pimples being burst. My philosophical […]

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A Theory of Evil

        The Uniformity of Evil     Evil comes in many varieties. A typical list would include: genocide, murder, torture, terrorism, slavery, sadism, the sexual and physical abuse of children, slander, betrayal of trust, desecration of the sacred, disfiguring, maiming, and crippling. We might count as evil the willful destruction of great […]

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Philosophy as Biology

      Philosophy as Biology     In the 1960s linguistics took a biological turn with the work of Lenneberg and Chomsky.[1]Language was held to be genetically fixed, a species universal, just like the anatomy of the body. It is a biological aspect of human beings, not something cultural or learned, more like digestion […]

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