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review ó eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ô Thomas Nagel

The View From NowhereHuman beings have the uniue ability to view the world in a detached way We can think about the world in terms that transcend our own experience or interest and consider the world from a vantage point that is in Nagel's words nowhere in particular At the same time each of us is a particular person in a particular place each with his own personal view of the world a view that we can recognize as just one aspect of the whole How do we reconcile these two standpoints intellectually mora. This slim volume is a long trek through an often inhospitable landscape I can't say it was always fun to read but nonetheless I do find Nagel to be a fascinating thinker What's most interesting is his partial vindication of rationalismHis position is often hard to pin down but in some respects appears similar to Descartes Nagel has long argued against the possibility of ever reducing mind to matter This would seem to make him a dualist So far so good It's his closeness to another aspect of Descartes however that really has the power to scandalize at least among his naturalistic minded colleagues in academia After guaranteeing the existence of the mind through the cogito Descartes felt the need to go a step further by guaranteeing that the contents of the mind and the dictates of reason correspond to something outside itself This roughly was the purpose of the ontological proof While no one including Nagel can really accept the soundness of Descartes's argument for the existence of God nonetheless it's important to recall why he thought God was necessary for his philosophical system He did not just throw it in as a sop to the religious authorities of his time Rather God was the only bulwark against a radically untenable skepticismThis then is rationalism the conviction that the dictates of a priori reason must in a strong sense link up with the universe as it exist outside our head Nagel thinks this is true He contends that if it were not true it would not be possible to hold any belief at all This would entail a form of skepticism far extreme than any variety of naturalism The naturalist positions seems to take for granted that it is itself correct and that therefore truth is possible at least in some areas However Nagel argues the naturalist really has no right to this conviction; it is undercut by his own account of mind evolving through a random series of accidentsWhat then At times Nagel seems to be preparing for a defense of theistic belief but he never actually goes there Indeed he even calls himself an atheist Granted this is a very peculiar kind of atheism We're used to the narrative of the believer forced to give up their faith due to the weight of scientific evidence or logical argument Nagel is something like the opposite His philosophy might actually have greater plausibility and coherence were he to posit the existence of God Yet this he steadfastly refuses to do He says there must be something that guarantees reason but will not say what that something is He does not call it god and professes to know nothing about it If others wish to make a full blooded return to classical rationalism they cans do so; his remains a decidedly watered down agnostic version

Thomas Nagel Ô 8 characters

Lly and practically To what extent are they irreconcilable and to what extent can they be integrated Thomas Nagel's ambitious and lively book tackles this fundamental issue arguing that our divided nature is the root of a whole range of philosophical problems touching as it does every aspect of human life He deals with its manifestations in such fields of philosophy as the mind body problem personal identity knowledge and skepticism thought and reality free will ethics the relation. Objectively and Subjectively IntriguingThough at times superficial this is an extraordinary book overall Nagel is interested in the subjective and objective worldviews the objective being the view from nowhere and how these two viewpoints have different conseuences for different areas of philosophyThe book is roughly split into four parts the first dealing with philosophy of mind the second dealing with metaphysics and the limits of thought the most interesting for me the third with ethicsmorals the part I did not like and the fourth with the meaning of it all I must note that the book itself is not split as I say; it is just the impression I got from the relative chaptersNagel is one of these philosophers that modern academia needs of wide ranging humble and exceptionally insightful and this is an extremely bold book sadly for today’s measures I enjoy bold books Nagel takes the objectivesubjective viewpoint and applies it on a wide array of philosophical issues Though the philosophy of mind and metaphysics parts of the book lend themselves as fertile ground for such a dichotomy to be discussed the latter parts are somewhat lacking chiefly because there is not enough analysis for why there is such a dichotomy what gives rise to it etc etc etc I get the feeling that Nagel takes this dichotomy as a given as do many people I believe though I would have liked and was indeed hoping to see a bit depth in regards to the metaphysical underpinnings of the dichotomy itself I think if emphasis were given to the why of the dichotomy a much deeper work would have emergedAll in all this in an exceptional book and I believe has become somewhat of a modern classic I can see why and this book has for me cemented Nagel as an exceptional thinker I had not read his work previously – I was blind but now I see

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characters The View From Nowhere 108 Ö Human beings have the uniue ability to view the world in a detached way We can think about the world in terms that transcend our own experience or interest and consider the world from a vantage point that is in Nagel's words nowhere in particular At the same time each of us is a particular person in a particular plaBetween moral and other values the meaning of life and death Excessive objectification has been a malady of recent analytic philosophy claims Nagel it has led to implausible forms of reductionism in the philosophy of mind and elsewhere The solution is not to inhibit the objectifying impulse but to insist that it learn to live alongside the internal perspectives that cannot be either discarded or objectified Reconciliation between the two standpoints in the end is not always possible. Nagel wrote this book to address the tension between our subjective personal view of the world and the larger objective view of the world that our thought opens out into The subjective view is the 1st person experience fundamentally in reference to our selves while the objective is or approaches the impersonal global understanding of the world which only contains ourselves incidentally as a partNagel takes as his goal a sort of reconciliation between these viewpoints aiming for a description of the world that doesn't ignore either one but instead incorporates aspects of both to create a comprehensive theory of knowledge This is the key point he argues that any description of all that exists will fail to be complete if it does not include our subjective experiences Thus a purely physical description of the content and behavior of the universe is an incomplete account I want to think of mind like matter as a general feature of the world he writes pg 19If you can get beyond the dense prose and technical language Nagel's writing is actually fairly straightforward He works through his subject in a natural intuitive way and then considers its implications and the arguments for and against the conclusions he arrives at There's very little fretting over definitions or the logical axiomatic construction of arguments that you might expect from a work of analytic philosophy The book basically takes a tour through several uestions of personal philosophy from ideas of freedom skepticism values and ethics all the way to the meanings of life and death all considered through this lens of the objective subjective synthesis I very very much enjoyed the first chapters on the mind body problem I've read and written about several other books on this subject and because it tends to deal with thoroughly ineffable concepts I always feel that everyone is just talking past each other; in this case though I feel at least Nagel has articulated the position that I personally agree with Chapters 2 and 3 are perhaps the best survey of this issue that I have read Nagel has thoughts on the major approaches to reconciling the mind body problemSome of the problems he encounters here I do not agree are problems The main problem that opens Chapter 4 for instance never appears to me as a problem how can I be a particular person; that is given the objective view of a world and its contents and the experiences of the people in that world where do I fit in In this view there are billions of people and nothing exceptional about the person that is Ryan The description seems complete while leaving out the fact that I am Ryan I am untroubled by this because I think that to account for subjective experience our description of the world must include the experiences of being any of the persons contained in the world and each person feels as though they are a particular person while the world yet remains centerless In my view uniue feelings of selfhood arise anywhere there are causally separated regions of the universe that are conscious Other problems like the uestion of free will I find especially pointless Never mind the fact that Nagel dismisses compatibilism in a few paragraphs as incoherent or something like that I don't think the uestion of free will is important to ask about or even particularly meaningful because I don't see an experiential distinction between truly having a free will or only thinking I have a free willWhile the early chapters about the mind I thought were great and the most stimulating reading so far this year the latter chapters about ethics and values were not what I was concerned with They're important in the general elaboration of philosophy and sometimes I do want to read about these topics; others may particularly enjoy this part of the book but it wasn't what I was looking for It's just as thoughtful and well written as the rest of the book but my concern was with Nagel's philosophy of the mindIt's funny that I still haven't found a writer of philosophy who would give a generous or at least accurate description of the epiphenomenalist account of the mind body problem In the books that I have read both Nagel and Searle arguably Nagel's intellectual and professional rival give flip and dismissive treatments of this philosophy in just a few sentences Maybe I'm way off but I didn't get the impression that either really grasp the epiphenomenalist's claims I don't uite consider myself belonging to this school of thought but it does interest meOverall I think this is a good read that will get you asking all sorts of important uestions I appreciated Nagel's treatment of physics in the early chapters