Entries by Colin McGinn

Subjectivity and Symbolism

Subjectivity and Symbolism     Mechanism in physics was a unified theory of the physical world, positing only bodies in space and contact causation. Newton’s mechanics undermined this unity by postulating action at a distance, thus introducing another kind of causation. Electromagnetic theory undermined it further. Things don’t always operate by impact and reaction. In […]

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Conceptions of God

Conceptions of God     According to orthodox Christian theology, God plays three main roles: he is the creator of the universe; he acts as moral judge; and he is our divine benefactor. These roles are combined in a single entity, though they are different roles. There would be no contradiction in the roles being […]

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The Anti-Ontological Argument

  The Anti-Ontological Argument     The ontological argument proceeds from the premise that God contains all perfections to the conclusion that God exists. The anti-ontological argument proceeds from the premise that God contains all perfections to the conclusion that God does notexist. It thus precisely reverses the traditional argument deriving from Anselm.[1]Anselm argued that […]

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Interrogative Closure

      Interrogative Closure     Nearly thirty years ago I coined the phrase “cognitive closure” to mean “things that can’t be known”. I now want to introduce the phrase “interrogative closure” to mean “questions that can’t be asked”—to be contrasted with “affirmative closure” meaning “answers that can’t be given”. Just as there may […]

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Some (lighthearted) definitions

An intellectual: a person who reads for displeasure A philosophy professor: a person who screams when someone says something true A university administrator: a person whose job is to take out the garbage but is incompetent at it A feminist: a person who thinks death is too good for men and so marries them instead […]

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Philosophical Economics

    Philosophical Economics     Economics tells us that an economic transaction involves the sale (or exchange) of “goods and services”. This phrase invites conceptual scrutiny. It is notable that an evaluative term is used to describe the commodities sold: goods are good.[1]Services also are inherently valuable: you don’t perform someone the serviceof executing […]

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Kafkaesque

I used to describe my situation as “Kafkaesque”. I’m now reading Kafka’s The Trial and almost feel that I am reading about myself (“Hello, K., I am M.”). The predominant feeling, aside from evil, is absurdity.

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Capitalism Reconsidered

    Capitalism Reconsidered     What is capitalism and is it a good thing? The OEDgives the following definition under “capitalism”: “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state” (the word “capital” comes from a middle English word […]

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