The Character of Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

The Character of Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

The Character of Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

The Character of Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

Synopsis

The Character of Mind provides a sweeping and accessible general introduction to the philosophy of mind. Colin McGinn covers all of the main topics--the mind-body problem, the nature of acquaintance, the relation between thought and language, agency, and the self.In particular, McGinn addresses the issue of consciousness, and the difficulty of combining the two very different perspectives on the mind that arise from introspection and from the observation of other people. This second edition has been updated with three new cutting-edge chapters on consciousness, content, and cognitive science to make it the reader of choice on this vital topic.

Excerpt

This book is intended as an introduction to the philosophy of mind, suitable for the general reader and beginning student. I have accordingly avoided the use of technical terms, except those whose meaning I explain as they are introduced; a dictionary should suffice for other unfamiliar words. I have not, however, sought to protect the reader from the difficulties of the subject, and there are parts of each chapter that are likely to prove taxing to the tyro; but my hope is that these will yield to concentrated attentaon. On many vexed issues I have written with a boldness and absence of qualification I might not allow myself elsewhere; my aim has been to give the reader something definite and stimulating to think about, rather than to present a cautious and disinterested survey of the state of the subject. But while I have tried to say something positive about the topics with which the book deals, I have made a point of accentuating the problems each topic raises; the resulting inconclusiveness is, I think, to be preferred to facile solutions or (even worse) refusals to acknowledge the difficulties.

The book contains neither the names of particular authors nor footnotes crediting the ideas discussed to their originators. I must emphasise that this is not to be taken as an indication that the views discussed have no identifiable source, still less that their source is myself. On the contrary, every page of the book shows the influence of other writers, often in the most direct way possible; I claim no especial originality for the ideas put forward, though I dare say my treatment of them has sometimes altered their original form. My excuse for this manner of composition is that to have duly cited particular authors would have greatly impeded and complicated the presentation of the material discussed, unsuiting the book for its introductory purpose. the selective bibliographies for each chapter, to be found at the end of the book, record the sources of the views dealt with, in so far as I can trace them; but it seems in order to acknowledge the main influences on each chapter here, if only in a general way. These are as follows: Chapter 2, Davidson, Nagel, Kripke, Putnam; Chapter 4, Russell; Chapter 6, Davidson, Fodor . . .

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