By Jennifer Lawson, MA.
Colin McGinn. At the time I was in graduate school (beginning in 2006), that name struck the kind of absolute respect any philosopher would love to have. As a matter of fact, when I was a Research Assistant, he wanted to write an essay for the book I was assisting with but was unable to for reasons he may or may not explain later. I had been elated to potentially work on one of the papers, so it is with pleasure I introduce to you the man and the myth: Dr. Colin McGinn.
During the course of my studies, a scandal broke loose. I paid as little attention to it as I could, but, frankly, it was everywhere. I do not know the precise allegations against McGinn. What I do know is that he is innocent and has been found innocent.
We often think that a guilty verdict is the absolute worst verdict one can receive, so I emailed McGinn to inquire whether his position is, as a matter of fact, terrible. I had a hunch it was. After all, with the gossip (and I’m not innocent of this all the time) at the time, it’s clear that psychological things come into play. It’s much more difficult to get rid of a negative impression than it is to recover your good name. This is a psychological fact; and a rather unfortunate one for all of us.
Are there ways to recover after your name has been trod through the mud? I really cannot say. I haven’t, quite simply, done the research. Yet, I open the conversation about this and welcome back to the philosophical community the esteemed Professor: Colin McGinn.
When I emailed him on March 6, 2019, he simply had this to say:
Thanks for asking. Yes, it has had a very bad impact on my life in many ways. I am limited in what I can talk about for legal reasons, but I would be happy to share some aspects of my situation.
It is not simply the life and livelihood of a person we are discussing. It is also the future of philosophy.
McGinn has been working, as he has always done, on important issues all the while. This makes me admire the man even moreso. Be sure to check his personal blog and website to see the philosophical issues he has been working on.