Entries by Colin McGinn

The Tim-Hunt

Tim Hunt has now been completely exonerated. His main accuser has been totally discredited. Many rash and stupid people have egg on their face, including serious news organizations. And yet he is still being excluded from positions that are rightfully his. It was obvious to anyone that this was a put-up job from the start, […]

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Quine and Groucho

I was watching the Marx brothers film Horse Feathers and noticed a reference to the distinction between de reand de dicto readings of vernacular sentences. Groucho says to Chico, “You have the brain of a four year old…and I bet he was glad to get rid of it”. The joke depends upon switching from a narrow scope reading […]

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Homo ?

“Of the talking of rubbish, there is no end” (anon.) I have found what distinguishes us from animals after much patient research: our capacity for talking rubbish. And not just talking it–thinking it. You see, animals don’t talk or think rubbish: it’s all good sense with them, nothing rubbishy at all. But we humans are […]

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Prehension

My book on the hand finally comes out next week (August 14). I just got copies: nice cover, good paper. Oh what trouble that book has caused me! It is pretty academic stuff actually. I’m curious to know what people make of it. It’s really a science book, laced with philosophy. People might object that […]

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Irrational Man

I went to see Woody Allen’s new film yesterday, about a homicidal philosophy professor. The story itself was paper thin, as well as absurd, and the dialogue clunking and cliched, with none of the usual Woody Allen wit and charm. But what really struck me was the low level of the philosophy in the film. […]

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Phil

I never thought I’d be defending Prince Philip but his recent outburst has me on his side. Surrounded by other worthy dodderers he impatiently tells the photographer “Just take the fucking picture!”, then smiles thinly. Prince William smirks in the background. It’s a wonderful comic moment. The American press speaks censoriously of his “potty mouth” […]

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Neanderthals

What a pity the neanderthals went extinct!  The world would be a very different place with them and us in it. Would we be at war with them or in harmony? Would we have enslaved them? It would be fascinating to see another version of human nature, possibly superior to the Sapiens version. Given that we […]

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