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Publisher's Summary

The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, 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, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such. Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative.
In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic. In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility.
©2012 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By Serious Softball on 08-30-17


I'm sure this guy is brilliant. His ideas, undoubtedly , are incisive and compelling. The problem is, the average person has no idea what he's talking about. If I had to hear "teleological" or "Protogirou" or "meta" one more time, I was going to scream. Bring it down a few notches. In fact, rewrite the book so normal people understand what you're saying. You can have the best arguments in the world, but you're not going to transfer them to other people if they just want to turn off the book.

I'm not stupid. I'm a Summa cum laude graduate of law school and have been practicing law for 40 years. I forced myself to listen to the end. What a total waste of time.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By CHET YARBROUGH on 01-29-15


Thomas Nagel believes Darwin’s theory of natural selection is wrong. Nagel suggests natural selection fails to encompass the concept of mind. Even though Nagel acknowledges biology and physics have made great strides in understanding the nature of life, he suggests the mind should be a starting point for a theory of everything. Nagel infers that science research is bogged down by a mechanistic and materialistic view of nature. Nagel suggests science must discover the origin of consciousness to find the Holy Grail; i.e. an all-encompassing theory of nature.

Without agreeing or disagreeing with Nagel’s idea, it seems propitious for the United States to fund and begin their decade-long effort to examine the human brain. Though nearer term objectives are to understand Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the longer term result may be to discover the origin of consciousness. Contrary to Nagel’s contention that natural selection cannot explain consciousness, brain research may reveal consciousness rises from the same source of mysterious elemental and repetitive combinations of an immortal gene that Darwin dimly understood. Brain research offers an avenue for extension or refutation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

"Mind and Cosmos" is a tribute to Nagel’s “outside the box” philosophical’ thought. Like some who say string theory is a blind alley for a theory of everything, natural selection may be a mistaken road to the origin of life.

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9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Si on 08-01-17


The somewhat shallow musings of a bloke, the kind of things you think of in the shower. The narrator is not quite so relaxed and goes at it like an actor auditioning for the role of Obstreperous Professor.

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By s l bassett on 07-19-17

Garbage sound quality from audible again

Would you try another book written by Thomas Nagel or narrated by Brian Troxell?

The sound quality for most audible books is sub-par, but here it is abysmal - unlistenable. It's beyond absurd that, after all this time, audible sound is noticeably below that of cd-quality, but then why innovate or even make an effort when you're a lazy monopoly protected by amazon?

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