The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds In A Material World

The Mysterious Flame Conscious Minds In A Material World Is consciousness nothing than brain tissue as Daniel Dennett argues in his best selling Consciousness Explained Or as others claim is it a fundamental reality like space time and matter In recent

  • Title: The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds In A Material World
  • Author: Colin McGinn
  • ISBN: 9780465014224
  • Page: 241
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Is consciousness nothing than brain tissue, as Daniel Dennett argues in his best selling Consciousness Explained Or, as others claim, is it a fundamental reality like space, time, and matter In recent years the nature of consciousness our immediately known experiences has taken its place as the most profound problem that science faces Now in this brilliant and thorIs consciousness nothing than brain tissue, as Daniel Dennett argues in his best selling Consciousness Explained Or, as others claim, is it a fundamental reality like space, time, and matter In recent years the nature of consciousness our immediately known experiences has taken its place as the most profound problem that science faces Now in this brilliant and thoroughly accessible new book Colin McGinn takes a provocative position on this perplexing problem Arguing that we can never truly know consciousness that the human intellect is simply not equipped to unravel this mystery he demonstrates that accepting this limitation in fact opens up a whole new field of investigation Indeed, he asserts, consciousness is the best place from which to begin to understand the internal make up of human intelligence, to investigate our cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and to explore the possibility of machine minds In elegant prose, McGinn explores the implications of this Mysterian position such as the new value it gives to the power of dreams and of introspection and challenges the reader with intriguing questions about the very nature of our minds and brains.

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    About " Colin McGinn "

  • Colin McGinn

    Colin McGinn is a British philosopher currently working at the University of Miami McGinn has also held major teaching positions at Oxford University and Rutgers University He is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind, though he has written on topics across the breadth of modern philosophy Chief among his works intended for a general audience is the intellectual memoir The Making of a Philosopher My Journey Through Twentieth Century Philosophy 2002.Colin McGinn was born in Blackpool, England in 1950 He enrolled in Manchester University to study psychology However, by the time he received his degree in psychology from Manchester in 1971 by writing a thesis focusing on the ideas of Noam Chomsky , he wanted to study philosophy as a postgraduate By 1972, McGinn was admitted into Oxford University s B.Litt postgraduate programme, in hopes of eventually gaining entrance into Oxford s postgraduate B.Phil programme.McGinn quickly made the transition from psychology to philosophy during his first term at Oxford After working zealously to make the transition, he was soon admitted into the B.Phil programme under the recommendation of his advisor, Michael R Ayers Shortly after entering the philosophy programme, he won the John Locke Prize in 1972 By 1974, McGinn received the B.Phil degree from Oxford, writing a thesis under the supervision of P.F Strawson, which focused on the semantics of Donald Davidson.In 1974, McGinn took his first philosophy position at University College London In January 1980, he spent two semesters at University of California, Los Angeles UCLA as a visiting professor Then, shortly after declining a job at University of Southern California, he succeeded Gareth Evans as Wilde Reader at Oxford University In 1988, shortly after a visiting term at City University of New York CUNY , McGinn received a job offer from Rutgers University He accepted the offer from Rutgers, joining ranks with, among others, Jerry Fodor in the philosophy department McGinn stayed at Rutgers until 2006, when he accepted a job offer from University of Miami as full time professor.Although McGinn has written dozens of articles in philosophical logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, he is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind In his 1989 article Can We Solve the Mind Body Problem , McGinn speculates that the human mind is innately incapable of comprehending itself entirely, and that this incapacity spawns the puzzles of consciousness that have preoccupied Western philosophy since Descartes Thus, McGinn s answer to the hard problem of consciousness is that humans cannot find the answer This position has been nicknamed the New Mysterianism The Mysterious Flame Conscious Minds in a Material World 2000 is a non technical exposition of McGinn s theory.Outside of philosophy, McGinn has written a novel entitled The Space Trap 1992 He was also featured prominently as an interviewee in Jonathon Miller s Brief History of Disbelief, a documentary miniseries about atheism s history He discussed the philosophy of belief as well as his own beliefs as an atheist.

  • 521 Comments

  • I've seen McGinn on youtube and found him an endearing, affable and capable person. What I didn't like about this book, apart from its repetitive style, is that whenever McGinn makes reference to some other discipline to illustrate his argument, he gets it wrong. Paleoanthropology, biology, history, physics---he draws on all of these without knowing much about them, and the results are disappointing.


  • The fundamental argument of this book is that there is (or may be) a fundamental inability on the part of human beings how the brain (which is extended in space and time) gives rise to consciousness (which is not so extended). This fundamental inability he calls "cognitive closure."This is an interesting idea, but there are a couple of problems with the way McGinn handles it. First of all, people have come up with this idea before; he's not really adding anything new, as far as I can tell. Schop [...]


  • McGinn's central thesis is that the solution to the mind/body problem is cognitively closed to human beings. That is, due to the structure of our brains, we will never be able to understand the mind/brain link.The motivation for this thesis--that materialistic explanations of consciousness have been thus far deeply and conceptually off-base--is interesting and correct, I think. However, McGinn's book is rife with inconsistencies and his line for what we do know and what we do not know seems rath [...]


  • McGinn addresses the problem of consciousness with regards to the connection between mind and body. By arguing against Materialist points of view McGinn's primary thesis argues that human beings can not truly reconcile the connection of mind and body. Whether you agree or disagree with his argument, McGinn has put forth an exceptionally well written piece of work. The literature is accessible to both the philosophical scholar and the layman thus creating an enjoyable and thought provoking read.


  • I began reading this book knowing full well that the mystery of consciousness has not been solved, and most likely never will be. However, I was hoping to gain some insight as to way this is so. I found nothing in this book that could not be discovered through very basic introspection. The author contrives outlandish hypotheses, seemingly just for the sake of proving that it couldn't explain consciousness. This book rambles on, in what seemed like an eternity, to get to what most of us know anyw [...]


  • Interesting idea, but shows a great lack of insight on the authors part. To base such theories on conclusions drawn from the premise that consciousness MUST reside within the physical body is very limiting. I can't help but think that other very real possibilities exist. It seems as archaic and misguided as thinking that if one destroys a radio with a hammer, they have in some way destroyed the song that is playing. Obviously this is nonsense, we know that the song was only being picked up by th [...]


  • A persuasive argument against the materialist view of consciousness written in clear non-technical language. There is great virtue in communicating 'big' ideas without self-consciously employing 'big' words. A great many 'thinkers' should take note of McGinn's exemplary straightforwardness.


  • Very interesting and entertaining read. I disagree entirely with his views and conclusion, but this is a book worth reading for those interested in naturalist attempts to explain away the problem of consciousness.


  • Very interesting and cleverly written book about the mind-body question. I don't agree with some of McGinn's ideas but he certainly made me think.


  • Colin McGinn is, I think, the only person in the philosophical and scientific community to have understood just how hard the mind-body problem really is, and to have seen that there is virtually no chance that we will ever solve it. McGinn is a mysterian, and I am also a mysterian, though I take issue with McGinn over some of the detail of his mysterianism.One difference between us is this: McGinn thinks we are cognitively closed to the mind-body problem because our intelligence is not suited to [...]


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