Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Thomas Nagel

After being reminded over at Maggie's about the controversy and criticism of philosopher Thomas Nagel, I asked a young philosophy prof at church if he had any insight what was driving the vituperation. He put me on to an article over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Where Thomas Nagel Went Wrong.

The quick summary would be that Nagel believes evolution has a direction, a "natural teleology" in favor of complexity.  But he neither makes much of a case for that, nor references other modern thinkers who share that view.  Those who do not share that view, then, have pretty easy pickings with his newest work Mind And Cosmos.

Nagel's most famous work What is It Like To Be A Bat? was linked by Bird Dog, but I'm putting it in as well.  I had never read it before. It is a criticism of reductionism from 40 years ago, and quite interesting.  Though Nagel is an atheist, there are echoes of CS Lewis's criticism of naturalism at the outset of Miracles here.

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