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The View from Nowhere

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  730 Ratings  ·  13 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 1st 1989 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1986)
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David M
Oct 11, 2016 David M rated it really liked it
This slim volume is a long trek through an often inhospitable landscape. I can't say it was always fun to read, but nonetheless I do find Nagel to be a fascinating thinker. What's most interesting is his partial vindication of rationalism.

His position is often hard to pin down, but in some respects appears similar to Descartes. Nagel has long argued against the possibility of ever reducing mind to matter. This would seem to make him a dualist. So far so good. It's his closeness to another aspect
Sep 12, 2014 Drenda rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2010 Tyler rated it it was ok
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
Kyle van Oosterum
Oct 08, 2016 Kyle van Oosterum rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Probably one of the most brilliant ways to think about philosophy, Nagel has introduced me to observing philosophical disputes - ancient and contemporary - in terms of the objective/subjective distinction. We go on a journey through the philosophy of mind seeing that objective reductionism fails to capture the subjective qualia of a person, then move to how we gain knowledge, then to free will, to value and finally ethics and the disjunction between a life lived well and a life lived 'right'. In ...more
Oct 26, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it
Nagel wrote this book to address the tension between our subjective, personal view of the world, and the larger, objective view of the world that our thought opens out into. The subjective view is the 1st-person experience, fundamentally in reference to our selves, while the objective is (or approaches) the impersonal, global understanding of the world which only contains ourselves incidentally, as a part.

Nagel takes as his goal a sort of reconciliation between these viewpoints, aiming for a des
Marek Pawlowski
Nov 18, 2015 Marek Pawlowski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zdecydowanie jest to jedna z tych książek filozoficznych, które trzeba przeczytać więcej niż raz, aby zrozumieć zagadnienia, które są w niej poruszane. Niemniej jednak, jakikolwiek czas spędzony na analizie filozofii Nagela nie jest w mojej opinii czasem straconym. Pomaga w tych studiach także naprawdę dobre tłumaczenie na język polski dokonane przez Cezarego Cieślińskiego. Nagel porusza w „Widoku znikąd” niezwykle trudne problemy związane z naszą perspektywą pierwszo- i trzecioosobową a wraz z ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
Even though his ideas are not always easily acceptable, or that well argued for (he seems to base his idea that pain can be an agent-neutral reason for ethical action on his instinctive assumption that it is so), I couldn't help reading this book with a huge sense of admiration for Nagel. I could not hold back my astonishment that a philosopher could have thought that combining the objective and subjective viewpoints in the world could lead us in the right direction. It makes a lot of sense! The ...more
Karl Georg
Apr 30, 2012 Karl Georg rated it really liked it
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
Paul Gibson
Aug 13, 2015 Paul Gibson rated it liked it
A very interesting and challenging book founded in realism; a mind walk, if you like that sort of thing. I kept running across paragraphs I'd like to share, but everybody ought to read the introduction and pages 185-188; about moral progress. I know this is an older book (1986) but it's great to hear what great thinkers are discussing nowadays; thinking as opposed to believing and worshiping. This book seems to be a touch upon many of Mr. Nagel's major major ideas.
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.
Sep 25, 2015 Lylesmith rated it it was amazing
The standpoint of Nagel is so similar with that of Wiliiams'. No wonder they share consensus on moral luck.
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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.” 2 likes
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