Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nagel Summarizes "Mind and Cosmos"

Tree, in Wilberforce, Ohio

Everyone interested in the mind-body problem has read Thomas Nagel's recent Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. In the nytimes Nagel writes a brief response summarizing his position. (See "The Core of Mind and Cosmos.") What makes Nagel's views so interesting is that he is an atheist, yet rejects philosophical naturalism/philosophical materialism. Nagel's summary speaks for itself, so I'm not going to bullet it here. But suffice it to say the following:

  • The physical sciences, as wonderful as they are, cannot - even in principle - "provide the basis for an explanation of the mental aspects of reality as well — that physics can aspire finally to be a theory of everything."
To understand this one can begin by reading this little, clear summary, and then go to Nagel's book.

And yes, theists like myself are interested in and even applauding Nagel, since we find atheism-as-philosophical-materialism problematic. After summing up he writes: "I would add that even some theists might find this acceptable; since they could maintain that God is ultimately responsible for such an expanded natural order, as they believe he is for the laws of physics."

For some of my thoughts + links to the broader discussion see:

Thomas Nagel - A Horse In the Zebra Pen

And from the nytimes: An Author Attracts Unlikely Allies.