Entries by Colin McGinn

Lead Tape

I was playing tennis today with my favorite partner, Javier, the best player in Cuba. I have recently been experimenting with lead tape on my racquet and had added some more strips. It certainly adds to power, as well as stability, but it also allows you to make solid shots without too much effort or […]

Inhuman Philosophy

      Inhuman Philosophy     Has philosophy become inhuman? Is that why it has lost its prestige and popularity? Is it doomed by its inhumanness? Or is it perhaps not inhuman enough? Is it just not scientific, merely a parade of personal opinion and undisciplined subjectivity? Must we reunite philosophy with the humanities […]

American S***hole

I think I can finally say what I have tried to avoid saying for quite a while: I wish I had never moved to America. I came from the “shithole” of Oxford in 1990, a hopeful immigrant. I have had my doubts about the place over the years, both from personal experience and the political […]


No doubt it is a good thing that questions of sexual harassment are being aired, but I found Daphne Merkin’s op-ed piece in the NY Times today salutary. It ends thus: “These are scary times, for women as well as men. There is an inquisitorial whiff in the air, and my particular fear is that […]

Nabokov and America

      The Murder of Quilty     The enthralled and stricken reader of Lolita reaches chapter 35 of the book, the penultimate chapter, in a tragic state of mind, weeping hot tears. This is the chapter in which Clare Quilty is brutally murdered by a drunk and deranged Humbert Humbert. Yet the chapter […]

Irreligious Belief

Why I am an Atheist (2010) What is the state of belief of an atheist? An atheist is often defined as someone who does not believe in God. It is quite true that an atheist does not believe in God, but that is insufficient to define the state of belief of an atheist. A tree […]


When I wrote Moral Literacy I named kindness as the most important virtue. Now I would amend this slightly: what we need is EXTREME KINDNESS–really going out of your way to be nice to people. Not love, which is impossible, but acts of kindness. If cruelty is the worst thing, kindness is the best thing–to […]