Entries by Colin McGinn

On Mind-Brain Relations

    On Mind-Brain Relations     Various relations between mental events and brain events have been (and could be) posited: correlation, causation, simultaneity, supervenience, spatial coincidence, composition, part-whole relations, and identity. It is fair to report that these relations are first found outside of the mind-brain relation and then applied to that relation; we […]

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Scientific Knowledge

    Scientific Knowledge   No doubt scientific knowledge is impressive and enchanting: science has learned so much of interest about the world, with many practical applications. The human brain is lucky to be able to obtain and contain such knowledge. It looks like the best knowledge on planet Earth; if there were a competition […]

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What is Nature?

    What is Nature?   What falls under the concept of nature and what does not? What does the concept include and what does it exclude? The OED defines “nature” as follows: “the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, and the landscape, as opposed to humans or human creations”. The Cambridge […]

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General Reactivity Theory

    General Reactivity Theory   Consider the simple reflex: the blink reflex or the patellar reflex, for example. There is a stimulus and a response: the stimulus is an impinging physical event and the response is a movement of the body. The stimulus elicits the response without any psychological intermediary; the reflex arc exists […]

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Action, Reaction, and Reflex

    Action, Reaction, and Reflex     Analytical philosophy of action typically begins by distinguishing between mere reflexes and intentional actions. The blink reflex and the patellar reflex involve bodily movements with no psychological intermediaries, while bodily movements like directing traffic are prompted by beliefs and desires. The philosopher then declares that he or […]

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Complex Minds

    Complex Minds     I wish to make a very general point about the complexity of the mind—not just the human mind but minds generally. There has been a tendency to think that the mind is relatively simple: it consists of simple ideas and principles of combination of these ideas; or it is […]

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Agnosticism

    Agnosticism   The word “agnostic” was coined by Thomas Huxley in 1869. I am concerned here with what state of mind is denoted by this word not with whether agnosticism is the correct position. I think it is commonly assumed that it denotes a state of mind that is neither belief nor disbelief: […]

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Language and Music

  Language and Music     What kind of phenomenon is language? I shall consider this question by comparing language with music—though I shall also be concerned with what kind of phenomenon music is, especially toward the end. Language occupies a curious no-man’s land, being neither purely external not purely internal.[1] We can talk to […]

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