McGinn University

I have a solution to the problems of higher education (sic) in America: I am founding my own university–McGinn University (MU). It will of course have a vibrant philosophy department teaching all branches of the subject. We will also cover psychology and brain science, as well as literature, biology, and the more interesting parts of mathematics and physics. There will be a special emphasis on creativity (creative writing is compulsory) and advanced writing skills. In addition we will have an athletics program: tennis, table tennis, gymnastics, trampoline, squash, badminton, swimming, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and skim boarding (oh it will be fun!). Also a music department covering all aspects of music, from music theory to how to hit a drum, from old to new (basic guitar and percussion skills desirable). Fees very reasonable (unlike that monstrosity Trump University). The aim is to turn out first-class minds and free spirits.

12 responses to “McGinn University”

  1. Alan says:

    Academic psychology turned interesting? Interesting. Interested.

  2. Alan says:

    One could fill a course with interesting stuff about why a lot of academic psychology is terminally dull.
    And piano counts as percussive.
    I’d gladly audition for a place!

  3. BertieRussell says:

    Hello !

    Which parts of mathematics do you find interesting ? I am sure you would include Mathematical Logic, Set Theory, Computational Complexity and all Analysis.

  4. Steven Martin says:

    “The Mysterious Flame” and your work on consciousness still is the best work I’ve come across. I would welcome to take an online course from you. A certificate of completion would be fine for me.

    You remain my favorite atheist, so anything you cared to share on that would also I’m sure be fascinating.

    • Colin McGinn says:

      I’m still working on the institutional structure, but you sound like the right kind of student. Why don’t you write me a brief paragraph explaining what you think consciousness is?

  5. Steven Martin says:

    My conscience enabled me to recall a memory from your whereby you ask your reader to consider the Eiffel Tower. For those who have stood before it there is a visual that seems to assemble in our mind’s eye, the size of it, the view from a distance or from the observation tower; the temperature during that visit, the color of it, or the person you were with. Perhaps you recall how you kissed a lover on the observation deck. Perhaps there was no lover, but you have always longed for that moment, because you know it is in Paris. For myself having never seen it in person, there photographic images, cartoons, movies and videos that form in bits and in whole to confirm my cognition of the thing. It causes me to remember that a child my fear of heights made the thought of going up in it a thing to avoid. For a six year old child living in Boston there may be no image, even if they saw a cartoon show illustration of it that morning.

    Awareness, context, memories and emotional response all presented to us in a flash. Why? Can such an amazing thing be attributed to firing of synapses and electronic pulses to form a visual that then leads to a myriad of images, feelings and introspection?. What triggers the firing, how is it composited, how accurate is my image.

    It is indeed perhaps the hardest problem and the ultimate mystery. I’m glad that “Homo Deus” author Yuval Harrare suggests posited that highly functional AI will feature intelligence without the need for consciousness. I think it is because he too would be really stuck to explain what it is.

    Three paragraphs = D. :-{

    • Colin McGinn says:

      Good effort. I’ve been up it a couple of times and once tried to scale it (which came to nothing). Electricity powers lights but how does it power consciousness? Electrons are everywhere but not consciousness. And what have fibers got to do with feelings?

  6. Steven Martin says:

    Sir, you are most kind and your response posits questions for which my education and intellect are woefully inadequate to providing any insight, Still, I will be thinking about them for months off an on.

    I hope this response stays somewhat in the scope of this thread.

    Last evening I saw a one man show of “The Things They Carried”, an adaption of the short story memoir of Tim O’Brian about a soldier’s Vietnam experience.

    As a Vietnam Veteran who served in the same branch and in the same time period I was really quite receptive to internalizing this play. While the material was there, the actor, who had a number of character roles in movie and TV, just failed to hold any credibility for me.

    The conveyance of tragedy, and pathos is at the heart of this art form and yet it did little to touch me. Even though I felt predisposed to connecting with the work.

    Again, I am struck by the the role of consciousness in memory, awareness, and suspension of belief. Our ability to relate to and internalize as somehow true or real something that we cognitively know is clearly no more then a person simulating something they never lived and never were is another mysterious thing that rests heavily on the consciousness of both parties.

    It demonstrates in some way that we can always see our thoughts and yet can stare at someone else all day and never see theirs.

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