Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel
Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

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“Mind and Cosmos,” weighing in at 128 closely argued pages, is hardly a barn-burning polemic. But in his cool style Mr. Nagel extends his ideas about consciousness into a sweeping critique of the modern scientific worldview, which he calls a “heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense.”
-NY Times

Synopsis

The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.

Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.

In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility.
 

About Thomas Nagel

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Thomas Nagel is University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University. His books include The Possibility of Altruism, The View from Nowhere, and What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2008, he was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy and the Balzan Prize in Moral Philosophy.
 
Published October 1, 2012 by Oxford University Press. 136 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Law & Philosophy, Self Help, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Mind and Cosmos
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER on Feb 06 2013

“Mind and Cosmos,” weighing in at 128 closely argued pages, is hardly a barn-burning polemic. But in his cool style Mr. Nagel extends his ideas about consciousness into a sweeping critique of the modern scientific worldview, which he calls a “heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense.”

Read Full Review of Mind and Cosmos:Why the Mater... | See more reviews from NY Times

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Adam Frank on Jan 29 2013

...once I got past Nagel's missteps on Darwin, I found his arguments to be quite brave, even if I am not ready to follow him to the ends of his ontology.

Read Full Review of Mind and Cosmos:Why the Mater... | See more reviews from NPR

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