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The View from Nowhere

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  447 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Human beings have the unique ability to view the world in a detached way: We can think about the world in terms that transcend our own experience or interest, and consider the world from a vantage point that is, in Nagel's words, "nowhere in particular." At the same time, each of us is a particular person in a particular place, each with his own "personal" view of the worl ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 9th 1989 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1986)
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Apr 21, 2010 Tyler rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: General Philosophy Readers
Recommended to Tyler by: References in Other Works
Shelves: philosophy
Thomas Nagel qualifies his sentences in a way that forces you to hold the subject in mind while waiting for the predicate. But that alone doesn't explain why my eyes glazed over trying to get through this book. I think I kept trying to hack away at it after I was already tired.

What's more, what Nagel has to say is important and creative, and no other philosopher has said it. He talks about objectivity, a mode by which we come to know the world. What's really good is that he covers it from every
The search for knowledge could be, and often is, described as the attempt to surpass the personal, subjective viewpoint by striving to encompass the largest number of conditions before arriving at a conclusion. It's the search for generalities after careful experimentation. It's the analytic style, the scientific method. Nagel, while totally respecting that this is at least the path toward truth, points out that starting point- the personal, subjective viewpoint. For him, while the subjective eg ...more
Olof Leffler
I would have liked to have the time to write an in-depth review of this book, but I am afraid I do not. I shall instead be brief: The View from Nowhere is a sophisticated, elegant and insightful defence of the view that there is a (seemingly) irreducible clash between our subjective, limited, finite and human points of view, and our ability to transcend ourselves and take up a more objective, universal point of view - the view from nowhere. This distinction, Nagel argues, is also the cause of ma ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Steve marked it as abandoned
It's weird, I like his writing, and I'm very interested in the subject matter, and he doesn't use complex language... but I just don't understand what he's talking about frequently. I don't mind skimming over some stuff if I don't get it, but after about 50 pages I realized I was 'skimming' over entire chapters.
Karl Georg
Covers the problem of developing an objective view of the world, and then integrating that view with the subjective view, without neither drifitng into idealism nor adopting some form of reductionism (which Nagel both considers to be serious philosphical mistakes). Mind and body, knowledge, ethics, the meaning of life, birth and death: the full range of problems is being discussed with respect to how to cope with objectivity. Since some of the questions implied are quite hard, Nagel does not fin ...more
I loved the suppositions and the disorganization of this book. and the use Nagel made of concepts like nowhere and viewpoint; philosopher habitués of toothaches, tedium, and incorrigibility will have some fun along the line.
Influential and not trivial but I have taken much dislike to the apriorism invoked in mind matters.
Oct 10, 2010 Duong added it
very good
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Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher, currently University Professor and Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. He is well-known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind in his essay "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974), and for his con ...more
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“The widespread willingness to rely on thermonuclear bombs as the ultimate weapon displays a cavalier attitude toward death that has always puzzled me. My impression is that...most of the defenders of these weapons are not suitably horrified at the possibility of a war in which hundreds of millions of people would be killed...I suspect that an important factor may be belief in an afterlife, and that the proporttion of those who think that death is not the end is much higher among the partisans of the bomb than among its opponents.” 2 likes
“Eventually, I believe, current attempts to understand the mind by analogy with man-made computers that can perform superbly some of the same external tasks as conscious beings will be recognized as a gigantic waste of time.” 1 likes
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