Category Archives: Mind

Thomas Nagel, The Core of ‘Mind and Cosmos’

Philosopher Thomas Nagel has a recent book called ‘Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False’. The book has apparently drawn enough criticism that he felt it was necessary to put together a short of summary of the main arguments of the book, an outline of its core ideas.

In the piece, he argues that any current attempts to describe the realms of the mind, like consciousness and subjective experience, will fall short.

There can be a purely physical description of the neurophysiological processes that give rise to an experience, and also of the physical behavior that is typically associated with it, but such a description, however complete, will leave out the subjective essence of the experience – how it is from the point of view of its subject — without which it would not be a conscious experience at all.

The scientific outlook, if it aspires to a more complete understanding of nature, must expand to include theories capable of explaining the appearance in the universe of mental phenomena and the subjective points of view in which they occur – theories of a different type from any we have seen so far.

He says that the physical sciences are incapable of describing the mind’s processes, but it’s a little hard to understand what he suggests to replace them. Apparently something natural, yet not based in the physical world. That seems a little contradictory.

(via 3quarksdaily)