Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Advice for Thomas Nagel: Get Thee to the Lyceum
If I were a better philosopher I might try to write an actual review of Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos; Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. After reading his book it is obvious that Nagel is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Since he wants to try maintain some sort of philosophical Naturalism, I suggest that he go with Aristotle. Plato maintained that there was an inherent dualism in reality between the world of Forms (or Ideas or Archetypes) and the physical world. His student Aristotle rejected this dualism, maintained the reality of the Forms but insisted that they were inherent in the physical world. He came up with four causes by which the world can be known: Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final causes. Nagel very much wants to maintain that consciousness, ethical values, and teleology are all real, but also that they are inherent properties of Nature. The similarity to Aristotle is too close to be ignored and one wonders why Nagel doesn't just come out of the closet and admit that he is an Aristotelian. I might have more to say later, but meanwhile I recommend reading his book. It's worth it.