The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy

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Harper Collins, Jul 8, 2003 - Philosophy - 256 pages

Part memoir, part study, The Making of a Philosopher is the self–portrait of a deeply intelligent mind as it develops over a life on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Making of a Philosopher follows Colin McGinn from his early years in England reading Descartes and Anselm, to his years in the states, first in Los Angeles, then New York. McGinn presents a contemporary academic take on the great philosophical figures of the twentieth century, including Bertrand Russell, Jean–Paul Sartre, and Noam Chomsky, alongside stories of the teachers who informed his ideas and often became friends and mentors, especially the colorful A.J. Ayer at Oxford.

McGinn's prose is always elegant and probing; students of contemporary philosophy and the general reader alike will absorb every page.

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User Review  - AMD3075 - LibraryThing

A resident of New York City and philosophy professor at Rutgers University, Colin McGinn was educated at Oxford University and has written broadly on his own philosophy and that of others. He has ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

Playful memoir offering an amusing view of academic philosophy's day-to-day tussle, as well as a clear introduction to the author's thought.By his own description, McGinn (Philosophy/Rutgers) is short ... Read full review



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Page 32 - Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: The longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
Page 74 - Snow is white” is true if and only if snow is white, and the
Page 75 - snow is white” is true if and only if snow is white. We
Page 40 - The Being by which Nothingness arrives in the world must nihilate Nothingness in its Being, and even so it still runs the risk of establishing Nothingness as a transcendent in the very heart of immanence unless it nihilates Nothingness in its being in connection with its own being. The Being by which Nothingness arrives in the world is a being such that in its Being the Nothingness of its Being is in question.
Page 33 - famous paradox of the class of classes that are not members of themselves,
Page 182 - cognitive closure” with respect to the mindbody problem. Just as a dog cannot be expected to solve the problems about space and time and the speed of light that it took a brain
Page 182 - Einstein's to solve, so maybe the human species cannot be expected to understand how the universe contains mind and matter in combination.
Page 36 - there is no more reason to believe in the Christian God than
Page 75 - is white” is true of something if and only if that thing is white;
Page 58 - I later learned) for people who couldn't cut it on the B.Phil,

About the author (2003)

Colin McGinn was educated at Oxford University. 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.

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