Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False

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OUP USA, Nov 22, 2012 - Philosophy - 130 pages
4 Reviews
In Mind and Cosmos Thomas Nagel argues that the widely accepted world view of materialist naturalism is untenable. The mind-body problem cannot be confined to the relation between animal minds and animal bodies. If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, 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. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such. No such explanation is available, and the physical sciences, including molecular biology, cannot be expected to provide one. The book explores these problems through a general treatment of the obstacles to reductionism, with more specific application to the phenomena of consciousness, cognition, and value. The conclusion is that physics cannot be the theory of everything.

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User Review  - jefware - LibraryThing

The greatest mystery of the universe is that it is understandable by human cognition. Combine that with the origin of life and the origin of consciousness and the problem of values and you've got the gist of his argument. Not convincing but indirectly thought provoking. Read full review

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User Review  - PedrBran - LibraryThing

Modern science assumes the causal closure of physics or what is referred to as the completeness of physics. If the forces physics describes are the only forces in the world, then everything can be ... Read full review


1 Introduction
2 Antireductionism and the Natural Order
3 Consciousness
4 Cognition
5 Value
6 Conclusion

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About the author (2012)

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.

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