Entries by Colin McGinn

Existence and Consciousness

      Existence and Consciousness     The idealist sees an essential connection between existence and consciousness: there is no existence where there is no consciousness. Can we make anything of this thought? Suppose an otherwise empty region of space contains an instance of consciousness, say an experience or thought; then we can rightly […]

Share

Illiteracy at the New York Times

Today I read this sentence in the book review section of the New York Times: “An interesting , sciencey explanation of the Y chromosome in all it’s vagary and confusion, and the strange trip through the behaviors of the life span of the males of many species.” This is from Mark Morris in By the […]

Share

Intelligibility

      Intelligibility     The concept of intelligibility is often used by philosophers but not often analyzed. The OED gives this simple definition of “intelligible”: “able to be understood”, but it follows that up with a definition proper to philosophy: “able to be understood only by the intellect”. The intellect is the faculty […]

Share

Our Unified Universe

    Our Unified Universe     Imagine a universe in which mind, matter and mathematics all exist but stand in no interesting relation with each other. Minds don’t know any mathematics, mathematics has no application to matter (or mind), and mind and matter have no causal interaction or even correlation with each other. The […]

Share

Philosophical Events

    Philosophical Events     There are many types of event: physical, chemical, astronomical, biological, psychological, social, economic, historical, cultural. Each type of event has its own science or field of study, so that disciplines are identified via types of event. In general, these disciplines describe, predict, and explain the events that form their […]

Share

Happy Families

    Happy Families     “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This famous remark by Tolstoy usually provokes a wry smile and a sage nod, but is it true and what exactly does it mean? We may paraphrase it thus: there is only one kind […]

Share

The Concept of Miracle

      The Concept of Miracle     Where do we get the concept of the miraculous? Why does that concept seem compelling to us? Why do we take to it so readily? It is not, to be sure, from the observation of miracles, in the style of empiricism—we don’t have perceptions of actual […]

Share

Discrete and Continuous

    Discrete and Continuous     Philosophy is awash in grand dichotomies—particular and general, mind and body, fact and value, finite and infinite, being and nothingness. Reality is held to divide into two large categories and the relations between them are mapped. But there is one dichotomy that is seldom discussed by philosophers, though […]

Share