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Archive for December 7th, 2009


Am I the only one who finds Colin McGinn pretty smug? The off-hand way s/he dismisses the plausibility of pan-psychism as “a very extraordinary view of course” [at 1:31], as if the very idea of entities having both sensuous, conscious properties as well as more “classically physical” properties, were just silly.

Noop, what’s daft is this initial schizoid splitting of reality into two realms, judged by some existential or phenomenological or epistemological demarcation. Typical of “masculine” styles of thinking, I observe.

There are no “philosophical” problems in our having deep emotional and attitudinal lives. We all know fairly well what it is to feel “such and such”, or to believe “this or that”, about ourselves and other people. Nor do most people doubt that their claims about other peoples and their own mental lives are more or less equally well founded. Unless you go on a philosophy course, the sense that one has an epistemologically privileged access to oneself isn’t commonplace.

The real puzzles are the patterns we have in our feelings and interpersonal lives, especially our half-conscious, half-unconscious models of each other’s feelings, beliefs and intentions. That’s why the art of conversation and romantic literature, and psychology, especially social psychology, all have great significance …. and why the philosophy of mind is a silly common-room hobby.

Things we can know in advance to be “a-priori” inexplicable by natural science? What is the “intrinsic” nature of something apart from its behaviour? A mixture of Kantianism and pure b*llshit mysticism.

My advice to CM? Go get a real job helping people in Tesco’s, to quote a better philosopher 🙂 Or more campaigning for better treatment of other species, which CM was quite interested in, in the early 90s.

Regards and ♥, andrea

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