An early edition of the fantasy-role-playing card game Magic: The Gathering included an amusing character, the Grey Ogre who "... believed the purpose of life was to live as high on the food chain as possible. She refused to eat vegetarians preferring to live entirely on creatures that preyed on sentient beings."

Colin McGinn is, however, a vegetarian. He's also a recovering video-game addict, a surf kayaker, a science-fiction fan, and a professor of philosophy. In The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World McGinn aims a blowtorch at his fellow thinkers who try to explain how brains work. CMcG is a Mysterian who contends that (for humans) mind is by nature incomprehensible, and always will be.

Of course, I disagree with almost every major thesis in McGinn's book. Nonetheless I found Mysterious Flame delightful to read, uniformly well-written, and chock-a-block full of fallacious arguments which led me to think through and sharpen many of my own too-fuzzy beliefs. A few of the neural firing patterns that arose in my hypermaterialistic brain circuitry:

My bottom line: minds arise from objects and the reliable patterns of (patterns of (...)) their interactions. Nowadays, brains are the most obvious hosts for minds because brains support more complex yet reliable interactions per unit of time than do other substrates. Different hosts for minds can (and do, and will) exist.

(see also MeanMeaners (3 Jul 1999), TheMysterians (2 Aug 1999), BitsOfConsciousness (21 Jan 2000), MostImportant (16 May 2002), FreedomEvolves (3 Jul 2003), ColinMcGinn (30 Oct 2003), DiaryBenefits (29 Feb 2004), ... )

TopicMind - TopicPhilosophy - TopicLiterature - 2004-08-12

(correlates: CounterBeanCounters, Comments on WorthRemembering1, HardyLittlewoodRules, ...)