Read Shakespeare's Philosophy: Discovering the Meaning Behind the Plays by Colin McGinn Free Online
Book Title: Shakespeare's Philosophy: Discovering the Meaning Behind the Plays|
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The author of the book: Colin McGinn
Date of issue: November 28th 2006
ISBN 13: 9780060856151
Format files: PDF
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Shakespeare's plays are usually studied by literary scholars and historians and the books about him from those perspectives are legion. It is most unusual for a trained philosopher to give us his insight, as Colin McGinn does here, into six of Shakespeare's greatest plays—A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest.
In his brilliant commentary, McGinn explores Shakespeare's philosophy of life and illustrates how he was influenced, for example, by the essays of Montaigne that were translated into English while Shakespeare was writing. In addition to chapters on the great plays, there are also essays on Shakespeare and gender and his plays from the aspects of psychology, ethics, and tragedy.
As McGinn says about Shakespeare, "There is not a sentimental bone in his body. He has the curiosity of a scientist, the judgement of a philosopher, and the soul of a poet." McGinn relates the ideas in the plays to the later philosophers such as David Hume and the modern commentaries of critics such as Harold Bloom. The book is an exhilarating reading experience, especially at a time when a new audience has opened up for the greatest writer in English.
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Read information about the authorColin McGinn is a British philosopher currently working at the University of Miami. McGinn has also held major teaching positions at Oxford University and Rutgers University. He is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind, though he has written on topics across the breadth of modern philosophy. Chief among his works intended for a general audience is the intellectual memoir The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy (2002).
Colin McGinn was born in Blackpool, England in 1950. He enrolled in Manchester University to study psychology. However, by the time he received his degree in psychology from Manchester in 1971 (by writing a thesis focusing on the ideas of Noam Chomsky), he wanted to study philosophy as a postgraduate. By 1972, McGinn was admitted into Oxford University's B.Litt postgraduate programme, in hopes of eventually gaining entrance into Oxford's postgraduate B.Phil. programme.
McGinn quickly made the transition from psychology to philosophy during his first term at Oxford. After working zealously to make the transition, he was soon admitted into the B.Phil programme under the recommendation of his advisor, Michael R. Ayers. Shortly after entering the philosophy programme, he won the John Locke Prize in 1972. By 1974, McGinn received the B.Phil degree from Oxford, writing a thesis under the supervision of P.F. Strawson, which focused on the semantics of Donald Davidson.
In 1974, McGinn took his first philosophy position at University College London. In January 1980, he spent two semesters at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a visiting professor. Then, shortly after declining a job at University of Southern California, he succeeded Gareth Evans as Wilde Reader at Oxford University. In 1988, shortly after a visiting term at City University of New York (CUNY), McGinn received a job offer from Rutgers University. He accepted the offer from Rutgers, joining ranks with, among others, Jerry Fodor in the philosophy department. McGinn stayed at Rutgers until 2006, when he accepted a job offer from University of Miami as full time professor.
Although McGinn has written dozens of articles in philosophical logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, he is best known for his work in the philosophy of mind. In his 1989 article "Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?", McGinn speculates that the human mind is innately incapable of comprehending itself entirely, and that this incapacity spawns the puzzles of consciousness that have preoccupied Western philosophy since Descartes. Thus, McGinn's answer to the hard problem of consciousness is that humans cannot find the answer. This position has been nicknamed the "New Mysterianism". The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World (2000) is a non-technical exposition of McGinn's theory.
Outside of philosophy, McGinn has written a novel entitled The Space Trap (1992). He was also featured prominently as an interviewee in Jonathon Miller's Brief History of Disbelief, a documentary miniseries about atheism's history. He discussed the philosophy of belief as well as his own beliefs as an atheist.