Monday, January 28, 2008

The Atheism Tapes with Jonathan Miller - talks to Colin McGinn

Jonathan Miller talks to the philosopher Prof. Colin McGinn about atheism and anti-Theism. This interview was done for the BBC series Atheism: A rough history of disbelief. Watch the 27 minute interview. Main points in highly abbreviated format (to wet your appetite!). Don't read my rough notes - just listen to Colin McGinn talking to Jonathan Miller!!
  • Do you believe in 'anything'?
    • ethics, politics etc
    • something there? Nothing! No supernatural, no ghosts, no telepathy, no superstitutions
  • where do you get Spirituality from?
    • deeply held beliefs, feelings about nature, deep convictions
    • no god, bad idea to believe in god and its been very harmful for man to believe in god
  • Believing in God then becoming an atheist
    • bible got me into philosophy
    • metaphysical and divine (what does it all mean) and ethics of New Testament got me interested in philosophy
    • studied pychology at Uni - religion just disappeared - its a load of rubbish
    • read Bertrand Rusell; keep ethical side and jetison the rest (miracles, origin of universe, virgin birth)
    • i would like religion to be true: cosmic justice would be good - but its not there
    • bracing and hygienic with no god
  • Why i dont believe in God as a philosopher
    • no evidence - no reason to believe in god than in Zeus
      • miracles - no good evidence
    • reasons to believe in God
      • Anselm - definition of God - ontological arguement
        • most perfect, powerful conceivable being
        • if did not exist then a more perfect being
        • existence is one of the perfections of god
        • what is perfect being? perfect colours?
        • Unicorn - horse with one horn
      • without god life is meaningless
        • empty sharade
        • without a being outside life
        • values and meanings is evidence - that something ie god has given us these - why should values depend on existence of god
        • morality foundation - Plato Euthrethro
        • why wrong to steal? Socrates intrinsically sound. Murder is right?
        • god cannot make something right when it is not right
        • guilt is a bad feeling - god gives extra motive to do right - i dont believe that
        • god will reward you is a corrupting idea - not what morality is about
      • reasons to not believe in god
        • problem of suffering and pain in world, why does he not interfere in death of a child - all good and powerful - conflict between that and evil, problem is free will arguement - natural catastrophies occur - god created a world in which inevitable that humans would
        • god testing people - improve moral character - god should not allow this to happen
      • why do people have a need to believe?
        • death - cosmic loneliness - human consciousness is sealed off
        • atheist is an accusation not a conviction
        • label atheist - is negative - no point in spending time
        • antitheism - opposition to theism - actively opposed to it - not just an atheist cf post theism and post atheism
        • ideal society would be that religion was just historical - post theist society

Being surrounded by bullshit is one thing. Having your mind fucked is quite another. The former is irritating, but the latter is violating and intrusive (unless you give your consent). If someone manipulates your thoughts and emotions, messing with your head, you naturally feel resentment: he or she has distorted your perceptions, disturbed your feelings, maybe even usurped your self. Mindfucking is a prevalent aspect of contemporary culture and the agent can range from an individual to a whole state, from personal mind games to wholesale propaganda.In "Mindfucking", Colin McGinn investigates and clarifies this phenomenon, taking in the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and modern techniques of thought control. McGinn assembles the conceptual components of this most complex of concepts - trust, deception, emotion, manipulation, false belief, vulnerability - and explores its very nature. Is philosophy, as a discipline, a type of mindfuck, asks McGinn? Is romantic love a species of mindfuck? The essence is psychological upheaval or disorientation, often abetted by the weaknesses of the victim. Jealousy, insecurity and prejudice can aid the mindfuck.

Delusion is the general result, sometimes insanity. How mindfucked are you? It's hard to say from the inside, but being aware of the phenomenon offers at least some protection.

More About Colin McGinn

  • Colin McGinn Blog
  • Wikipedia - Colin McGinn
  • Colin McGinn - New Mysterianism
    • New Mysterianism is a philosophy proposing that certain problems will never be explained or at the least cannot be explained by the human mind at its current evolutionary stage. The problem most often referred to is the hard problem of consciousness; i.e. how to explain sentience and qualia and their interaction with consciousness.

      New Mysterianism is often characterized as a presupposition that some problems cannot be solved. Critics of this view argue that it is arrogant to assume that a problem cannot be solved just because we have not solved it yet. On the other hand, New Mysterians would say that it is just as absurd to assume that every problem can be solved. Crucially, New Mysterians would argue that they did not start with any supposition as to the solvability of the question, and instead reached their conclusion through logical reasoning.

  • Point of Inquiry - January 2008 - talk with Colin McGinn (about 1 hour)
    • philosophical scepticism
      • I'm not an extreme sceptic
      • no certain knowledge but reliable knowledge
      • certain that god and ghosts does not exist - no evidence produced over 100 years
      • secular philosophy - non religious - vast majority of philosphers teaching in USA and UK are agnostics or atheists
      • a very small minority of philosophers are religious - not growing group
      • tolerance - tolerant of people - but not tolerant of their beliefs
        • should not persecuate them - is bad, criticism is good what you do to ideas
      • most academic philosophers do not talk about religion - more political issue - a dead subject - ethically and politically a hot topic. America will be post-theist? Stunned by resurgence of religous belief. When education is increased and indoctrination is reduced - if children were not indoctrinated - people would not come much to religion
      • evolution is a major reason to remove existence of god
      • no reason to believe in god, unicorns, fairies, ufo
      • physcological reasons for belief in god - no evidence for god
      • Philosophy of Shakespeare
        • evil people
        • death is a real thing - nothing beyond life
        • connect philosophy to sport, film - philosophy should not be 'dry' - infuse it with real life

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