Have You Ever Wondered ‘What it’s Like to be a Bat?’
Thomas Nagel has, and anyone reading posts in this philosophy Collection is likely familiar with his paper on the topic of qualia, the subjective experience of consciousness. In his new book “Mind and Cosmos” Nagel argues that material-science simply cant answer these types of questions – a view I tend to agree with. Although I am not sure I can go along with his alternative – ‘natural teleoogy’.
“The failure of scientific analysis to enable the analyst to reproduce the first-person point of view is, for Nagel, the proof that a naturalistic (materialist, physicalist) account cannot possibly serve as a theory of everything. But this, Flanagan counters, is to misunderstand the ambitions of naturalism. Naturalism does not aspire to say everything that can be said (to “exhaust the analysis,” in Nagel’s terms) of mental phenomena; that would indeed require experiencing them.”
“Nagel proposes not merely a new explanation for the origin of life and consciousness, but a new type of explanation: “natural teleology.” If psychophysical reduction is implausible, as Nagel has always insisted, then no materialist neo-Darwinian explanation will ever be satisfactory. The apparent alternative, a theistic-intentional account (i.e., intelligent design by a divinity), does not appeal to Nagel. He simply lacks, he explains, any sense of the divine. His interest is in the territory between the two: a secular account that allows for the emergence of mind as mind.”
#philosophy #consciousness #thomasnagel