Eternal Questions, Timeless Approaches: How to Think Like a Philosopher (Portable Professor Series)

Eternal Questions, Timeless Approaches: How to Think Like a Philosopher (Portable Professor Series)

by Colin McGinn

Audio CD(Unabridged, 8 CD's, Full-length Course B)



PORTABLE PROFESSOR™ is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each course introduces listeners to fascinating, and sometimes startling, insights into the intellectual forces that shape our understanding of the world. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures presented by notable professors as well as a book-length course guide.

The evolution of philosophical thought is fascinating because it demonstrates not only how our conceptions of ourselves and the universe we inhabit have changed over the course of time, but also how some of these conceptions have persisted-in some cases, for millennia. In this exhilarating series of lectures, Professor Colin McGinn guides listeners on a tour of philosophical approaches to some of the most penetrating questions about the self, our relation to the world and to other individuals in it, and the very nature of knowledge itself.


  1. Skepticism: What Do You Really Know?
  2. Knowledge: How Should Knowledge Be Analyzed?
  3. Truth: What is The Nature of Truth?
  4. Logic: What is Valid Reasoning?
  5. Knowledge and Experience: Where Does Knowledge Come From?
  6. The Basis of Ethics: What Makes Something Right or Wrong?
  7. Happiness and Right Action: How Are Morality and Human Welfare Related?
  8. Morality and Blame: Are We Free?
  9. Mind and Body: How Are They Related?
  10. Consciousness: Can the Mystery Be Solved?
  11. Mind and World: Are Objects Really as They Appear?
  12. The Self: Who Am I?
  13. God: Can The Existence of God Be Proved?
  14. The Meaning of Life: What Gives Human Life Value?

Colin McGinn was educated at Oxford University, where he won the prestigious John Locke prize and later taught before moving on to UCLA. He is currently a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. McGinn regularly writes newspaper and magazine articles and is the author of numerous books, including philosophical works, fiction, and an autobiographical book, the acclaimed The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780760750186
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 05/03/2004
Series: Portable Professor Series
Edition description: Unabridged, 8 CD's, Full-length Course B
Product dimensions: 6.34(w) x 9.26(h) x 2.04(d)

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Eternal Questions, Timeless Approaches: How to Think Like a Philosopher (Portable Professor Series) 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very biased towards atheism.  Colin gives only passing arguments to proofs of God's existance, then dismisses them with weak and worn out atheistic arguments.  Doesn't even give good atheistic defense because he takes his atheism for granted. Disappointed.  Not a good overview.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this course very much. It is a very basic introduction to the topic of philosophy covering the core principles and the great questions that philosophy explores. I feel it is a great starting point for learning about philosophy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McGinn systematically, concisely, and clearly covers the big problems of philosophy like consciousness, mind and world, self, free will, God, meaning of life, and ethics. The course begins with a presentation of foundational topics: knowledge, justified belief, logic, and skepticism. Then he ventures on to cover the perennial questions that haunt philosophers. The recommended readings and website references are quite good and add lots of food for thought to the course. McGinn himself is an excellent writer (Mysterious Flame, The Making of a Philosopher, and the more rigorous Character of Mind are just a few of his good works). Anyone who listens to this course and reflects on its topics will have a good appreciation of what sorts of problems are philosophical and how philosophers approach these problems.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Such a deep topic and such poor examples. I found this audio book to be a joke.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Philosophy is not a subject I would read for pleasure the way I might read, say, a history for the pleasure of it. But in general I am impressed by the way Colin McGill presents his material. Perhaps it is a style issue. Some people seem to react adversely to McGill's explanations. What I found outright fascinating was his ability to start with an abstract idea, move quickly to a fairly concrete example of the idea and then start pointing out, by use of the example, what the scope or limitations of the idea might be. I suspect that some reviewers are wanting a complete understanding of the issues Professor McGill has raised. I don't see how that could be done in 14 lectures when the questions haven't been answered entirely since the dawn of philosophy. And far from being dry, I found myself laughing at many of the examples the professor raises. Now to be sure he thinks quickly. At times it's a bit of a roller coaster ride through the landscape of ideas he presents. But if you're willing to hit the reverse button every so often and play through what he says, I think you can really enjoy this set of CDs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Personally I think Professor McGinn did a very good job. He introduces many basic philosophical ideas in a clear, knowledgeable way. If you're interested in philosophy and need and introduction I believe this will be a good lecture for you. I believe it's a compliment to Professor McGinn that I feel I can recommend him so highly even though I do disagree with much of what he said. But philosophy is much about disagreement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Such a wonderful idea for a CD series but a horrible execution. Colin McGinn is the most boring speaker I have ever listened to. He rushes through complex subject matter as though he were reciting it for the 999th time. Complete waste of money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent introduction to philosophy. McGinn's lectures present a series of ideas and questions that are meant to begin our inquiry, not end it. His presentation can be dry, but it is clear, thoughtful, and interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this set of audio CDs to be no more than the ramblings of a muddled thinker. The author manages to take the foundations of western civilization and reduce it to vague disconnected diatribes providing muddled notions of some very profound ideas. The first thing I would expect from a philosopher is the ability to tell a good story. Western philosophy is replete with hundreds of great stories which provide background to serious philosphical debate. The author touches on none of them. There is no mention of the greek gods, who provide a wonderful, colorful, and engaging basis for investigating the most profound struggles of human nature. The author cites nothing that would provide a foundation for his ramblings. On the third CD, the author brushes off utilitarianism by failing to define the word happiness. The idea of doing the greatest good for the greatest number is predicated upon a non-trivial definition of happiness. He defines the feelings an evil person derives from torturing a good person as happiness. I apologize for not writing a more cogent critique, but this audio series does not merit serious consideration.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This lecture series gives an outline of how Colin McGinn thinks a philosopher should think, not necessarily 'How to think like a philosopher'. After listening for several hours to him describe problems debated in philosophy today I was struck by his lack of real guidance through those debates. He completely ignores, or perhaps purposely steers away from, any sort of acknowledgement of the Indicative approach to philosophy. In doing that he leaves his listeners, who may not be the most informed philosophical group (since they are buying this introductory course), with something of an unbalanced, incomplete perception of where philosophy stands to date. Wittgenstein, for example, is neither mentioned, nor alluded to, throughout the seven-hour course. If we are to believe that what Colin McGinn is engaged in is informing his audience about the state of philosophical thought, as it exists to date, and how we should be thinking as philosophers about the problems it throws up, why does he leave out such an influential protagonist of the twentieth century; someone, who has had such a profound influence on how we now approach the subject. McGinn states that many of the philosophical problems that exist today have existed for over 2,500 years and that they still have no resolution. Yet, he does not expose his audience to the full panoply of important philosophical thought on the matters in question. It is as if he were giving the lectures to an audience back in the early twentieth century ignoring philosophical debate taking place after that time. It is obvious, after studying the series in any sort of depth, that McGinn is a proponent of the metaphysical approach to philosophy and as such is somewhat skewed and biased in his postulations regarding the philosophical problems at issue. Should you be looking for an informative text to help with an understanding of philosophical problems you would be well advised to purchase something like ¿A Common Humanity¿ by Raimond Gaitor. Gaitor¿s text written for the educated public who are not necessarily philosophers, is the sort of information more likely to be a useful source of how problems in philosophy are handled.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic and fascinating product. After taking three philosophy courses in college, I was skeptical that such a subject could be effectively presented in fourteen audio lectures. But not only does professor McGinn explain these tremendous philosophical questions with depth and clarity, he also cuts to the chase without 'clouding' the issues with too much detail and over analysis. I really learned a lot by listening to this course and it has actually cleared up several misunderstandings I had. It certainly left me with a better overall understanding of the 'big questions' than I had after taking three philosophy courses in college. If you¿re interested in a solid (and comprehendible) introduction to philosophical thought, then I highly recommend this product!