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Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False Hardcover – Sep 6 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Sept. 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199919755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199919758
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Denton on Jan. 16 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nagel redeems the reputation of philosophy in this dissection of contemporary dogmas. Philosophy should not confine itself to merely accurate thinking; it should engage the larger questions of mind and action. In this treatment of Darwinist thinking, of the kind one reads in Dawkins, Dennett and their allies, Nagel politely but carefully destroys the view that matter as they conceive it could ever constitute the whole of the universe and that it alone generates mind. He does so without recourse to theistic explanations. By comparison, I have read hundreds of pages of scientists such as Incomplete Nature attempt to do the same to no effect. Nagel is the Master, and those interested in the implications of Darwinist thought owe it to themselves to experience the force of his reasoning.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 12 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've never been satisfied with the options provided by religion or science when it comes to providing an explanation of all and everything. Religion always seemed too convenient, but science (in practice if not in principle) seemed to leave so much out. That's what made Nagel's book so refreshing for me. With the clarity of a world-class philosopher, he lays out the reasons science doesn't (and can't) give a full explanation of all the facts in the universe, but he retains the importance of reason, and doesn't fall back on some "God in the gaps" to explain everything that is so far unexplainable. He lays out a trajectory for future thinking about the universe, and a way to see the world as it is, given what we currently know.

Nagel's argument is clear and concise (one hundred twenty-something pages), each section building on the last, and by the end, his point is clear, and for me at least, it's difficult to see the alternatives as anything but self-contradictory fantasies. Nagel begins by arguing against materialism and reductionism, which has been done successfully by others without too much difficulty. But he then builds on this in layers, showing the absurdity of materialistic thinking when it comes to the origin of life, consciousness, reason, and value. Each presents a new problem, and the current orthodoxies can't answer them. Our ability to recognize truth, and to control our actions based on reasons and values, have staggering implications for our understanding of the universe as a whole. The alternative he presents to accommodate these implications isn't fully thought out (as he puts it, a real psychophysical understanding will probably require new concepts, a revolution on par with relativity), just plausible. It's impossible to say it's true, at this point, but It makes sense.
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There is a mentality among scholars who study and write about life: Their perception is that there exists nothing but the purely physical and material. Thomas Nagel contests the paradigm that nothing non-material can possibly be out there -- the purely material and physical idea does not explain how we're able to think, imagine, plan and do the other mental things human beings are able to do.

His writing is difficult to follow at times; often we're not sure just what he means to say in a particular passage. But if you're up to the brain-strain, he makes some good points. Darwinism certainly is false, and the materialist view of life is misleading at best.
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