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The existence of consciousness in a material world has long seemed mysterious. This book attempts to account for the mystery in a new way. It is not a matter of the world containing an objective miracle or a metaphysical enigma. Consciousness does not undermine atheistic naturalism. Nor is it that we are in the grip of a philosophical mistake - that there is nothing in reality to worry about. Consciousness does exist, and it cannot be explained by the physical sciences. The mystery arises, rather, from our modes of concept-formation: we cannot in principle arrive at a theory that would render the nature of consciousness explicable to us, despite its inherent naturalness.The Problem of Consciousness develops this point of view by considering subjectivity, intentionality, the limits of introspection, mental causation, and the hidden structure of consciousness. It also includes chapters on philosophical laws, mental kinds, functionalism and machine consciousness.Overall, the book aims to confront the problem of consciousness in all its difficulty while refusing to be overawed by it.
Colin McGinn was formerly Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy, Oxford University. He is the author of
The Character of Mind (1981),
The Subjective View (1982),
Wittgenstein on Meaning (Blackwell, 1984) and
Mental Content (Blackwell, 1989).