Colin McGinn - Secular Philosophy and Skepticism

January 18, 2008

Colin McGinn, educated at Oxford University, is the author of sixteen previous books, including The Making of a Philosopher. He has written for the London Review of Books, The New Republic, the New York Times Book Review, and other publications. He has taught philosophy at University College of London, Oxford, and Rutgers University, and is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Miami. He is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind, but has published across the subjects of modern philosophy. He was featured in Bill Moyers' series Faith and Reason on PBS and also Jonathan Miller's Atheism Tapes, a BBC documentary series.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Colin McGinn explores various kinds of skepticism, giving his concerns about radical fallibilism and certain post-modern critiques of knowledge. He explains how he is certain that ghosts and Gods don't exist. He details how atheistic the profession of philosophy is, and how the tolerance shown while philosophers criticize each other serves as a model for good citizenship. He tells the reasons that led to his religious skepticism and atheism. He examines William Shakespeare as a philosopher, the problem of evil in Shakespeare's plays, and other philosophical subjects found in Shakespeare such as epistemology, ethics, life after death, happiness and the meaning of life. He also explains how getting into Shakespeare as a professional philosopher impacted his philosophy.

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