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Mente e cosmo. Perché la concezione neodarwiniana della natura è quasi certamente falsa

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,471 ratings  ·  238 reviews
Se la coscienza non può essere spiegata dalla fisica e dalla biologia nella loro forma attuale, e se la mente è un prodotto dell'evoluzione biologica, "allora", afferma Nagel,"la biologia non può essere una scienza puramente fisica". Convinto del fallimento della concezione materialistica della natura, che non spiega i tratti fondamentali del nostro mondo connessi con la m ...more
Paperback, Scienza e idee, 134 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Cortina Raffaello (first published January 1st 2012)
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Start your review of Mente e cosmo. Perché la concezione neodarwiniana della natura è quasi certamente falsa
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People amused by scientific heresy
I had trouble at first making sense of this controversial book, but after a while I thought of my autistic son Jonathan and it all came into focus. Jonathan has a number of behavioral patterns which make life difficult for him, and the worst of them is his love of Making People Angry. As he explains in his disarmingly candid way, Making People Angry Is Fun. Ideally, the people being made angry should be attractive women; these are described as "Sweet And Pretty" if they are under 30, or "Beautif ...more
There Is Another Way

Is the self-aware, socially-oriented, language-using, persistently interpretive faculty that we call the human mind a product of the evolution of random chemical, biological and quantum physical processes, or is it the result of an act of a divine being? This is the intellectual choice as it is presented in popular debate: religion or science. But suppose that neither religion nor science can account for the facts as we known them. Suppose that the intransigence of the human
Jan Rice
I am not sure when and where I first heard of this book, but I do know it captured my attention when I read that the atheist evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker had linked to a negative book review of it with a tweet asking "What has gotten into Thomas Nagel" and announcing it had "exposed the shoddy reasoning of a once-great thinker," followed by Leon Wieseltier's counter-attack on Pinker. Apparently controversy broke through the ho-hum, and I sat up and took notice. The title of the book s ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Embarrassing. There's no other fitting word to describe the argument put forth in this book by Thomas Nagel, one of the world's greatest living philosophers.

Nagel's argument relies on the premise--through inference--that there is a pervasive, immutable morality that characterizes the universe. What evidence is there for this? Well, as it turns out, the evidence is his intuition. Based on this intuition, Nagel concludes that the Universe is not the cold, materialistic, relativistic entity that m
It's hard to believe the fuss that's being made over this book. It's even harder to believe how a major thinker can present his views on what is arguably the central problem of the western worldview and exclude so much work that has been done towards addressing that problem. Is it an academic turf thing or is it just that he's unaware of these advancements? Nagel takes on the age-old mind/body problem--how to reconcile materialistic science with the world of mind and consciousness--and does so w ...more
Evan Thomas
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much maligned in reviews, misrepresented for the most part. I'm inclined to think the negative response was more indicative of dogma than of shoddy reasoning on Nagel's part. ...more
Nagel and his other secularist friends sat down at table in the middle of a sunlit field. Their eyes were closed tight, but they supposed that they were open and imagined that the cakes of sand they were feasting upon were a steak dinner.

Then Nagel stood up as a blind prophet among a blind people and said, "Hey bros, something ain't right here. I'm pretty sure we're still in the dark." Then Nagel stood up and rather than opening his eyes, began blundering around in the grassy field looking for
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a short but deep book, well worth a careful, thoughtful read. It offers a convincing and sophisticated argument that consciousness is explained neither as a side-effect of brain activity nor as a product of intelligent design, but rather that it probably exists both within and without the body. The exploration of this important idea is very cogent and the logic sterling.

I found this extremely exciting, because the author's intellectual observations mirror my own empirical experience of n
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what I can add to a review of this book that has not been said before. I found his honesty refreshing. Though he has been a staunch materialistic atheist, he is honest enough to admit that certain features of the universe do not sit will with materialism, and are unlikely to ever be explained in materialistic terms. For things like qualia, there seems to be an uncrossable ditch between materialism and explanation.

Unlike most materialists, Nagel does not go down the road of reducti
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roughly two months ago, I happened upon a review of this book. Later that day, my upstairs neighbor, (a veteran epistemologist), expressed ideas that sounded remarkably reminiscent of what the review had stated about Nagel's thoughts on the mind-body question. I told him about Mind and Cosmos, and he was surprised to hear that Thomas Nagel held these views. Later that week he offered to buy the book for me if I would let him read it, and then read it myself. I enthusiastically accepted his offer ...more
Bob Nichols
Nagel argues that Darwinian theory cannot explain consciousness. Without consciousness, his train of thought goes, we cannot apprehend moral truths; without these, we have no basis for determining right and wrong and no basis to control behavior. We are then left with just the evolutionary imperative for survival and the self’s interest. This, philosophically, is not acceptable.

Nagel begins the book with a brief discussion of Descartes’ mind-body problem and the limits of science. Then he states
Manuel Alfonseca
ENGLISH: I read this book in a Spanish translation, performed by a professor in Seville with whom I have collaborated several times.

The book provides a good number of convincing arguments for the assertion that materialist reductionism cannot explain conscience and reason without explaining it away. But as conscience is a hard element of our vision of the world, the conclusion should be that materialist reductionism is false.

Of course, this is not new. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (whom Nagel nev
Oct 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book since my philosophy book group picked it. I couldn't find a copy in a local library so bought the eBook edition. After 2 pages I wanted my money back. This is by far the worst book I have read for that group in the 10 years I have been attending monthly meetings.

Nagel makes so many glaring and probably false assumptions I am sure I will miss some here:

1. First, reductionist science is false since it can't explain evolution. Why can't it? -- since Nagel can't think of why natural
John Martindale
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, philosophy
Among many of the so called "Skeptics" and "Free-thinkers", there is little or no skepticism when it comes to their own orthodox naturalistic dogma, the materialistic presuppositions are sacrosanct. If anyone within their camp actually dares to think freely and question any materialist Neo-Darwinian assumptions and metaphysical claims, they are anathema. Nagel is an atheist who actually IS a skeptical free-thinker and of course (as is obvious from the reviews) he is now condemned as heretic by t ...more
Douglas Wilson
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I really enjoyed this, and will be reviewing it later on my blog. Nagel is an honest philosopher.
Joanne Swenson
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What if we began, “in the beginning,” with the fact that we think? What if we took seriously the experience we have of ourselves as conscious, mindful beings, in communication with other humans and even other creatures? That we are actually aware of others’ thinking, oft-times understanding another without even a word but a look, a field of energy, a way of crossing our arms, or drawing a bow across a cello string? What are we to make of this phenomenon of minds, communicating in ever-deepening ...more
Taede Smedes
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A book that is certain to raise a lot of eyebrows. Nagel is one of the most famous living philosophers today. That he writes a book that seems to question evolutionary theory and that his scepticism about evolutionary theory is moreover fueled by Intelligent Design seems like potentially explosive material. Nonetheless, this book is definitely not a criticism of evolutionary theory; he presupposes critiques of evolution that he developed in more details elsewhere. He does not reject evolution, h ...more
Greg Watson
This is one that I listened to in the car. (I purchased a paper copy for reference.) Out of fairness to the writer, I'll limit myself to a starless review, since his argument is quite complex to take in strictly through an audiobook.

Nagel offers a critique of a purely Darwinian explanation of human consciousness. Logically, his argument seems to open the door to an acceptance of theism. However, he rules out the possibility of an argument based on a Creator. Instead, he points to a third way se
Deniz Cem Önduygu
One star for the great cover design, one star for the surprise and entertainment I got from reading such backwards thinking.

My two-sentence summary of the book:
Consciousness, reason and value cannot be the products of Darwinian evolution. So they must be among the building blocks of the universe, guiding evolution towards self-awareness and value formation.

Nagel is wise enough to concede that his ideas are "unlikely to be taken seriously in the present intellectual climate". He explains that he
James Millikan SJ
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Mind and Cosmos was the first book of philosophy I have read in over a year, and was my first encounter with a scholarly contribution to the ongoing debate between the materialist, neo-Darwinian understanding of nature on the one hand, and the theories that find such an account of nature unconvincing. Nagel does a fine job of raising objections to the claims of current evolutionary-biological consensus, while highlighting his qualms with the theistic solution. Among the most insightful observati ...more
Melissa Travis
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Been waiting for months to read this. Thanks to my sweet friend Jenny for the birthday gift card that bought it. :)

This is an incredibly valuable book from atheist philosopher Nagel. He is refreshingly honest about the impotence of the materialist/darwinian paradigm and about the fact that he simply isn't willing to consider a theistic alternative because of preference, not because of any evidence against theism. His turn of phrase is often entertaining, as he takes a no-nonsense approach to th
James Kessler
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful read, and approachable content. Proposes that a Neo-Darwinian materialist construct of the universe requires an evolutionary model for all reality "by necessity." Meaning that every product of evolutionary process is a necessary product. Conscious thought, and its derivatives, is delightfully gratuitous to the human being. He emphatically does not provide deism as his remedy of choice but he recognizes that non-traditional (and potentially non-materialist) constructs have to be considere ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-religion
Thomas Nagel has written a book about the limitations of science. Nagel states that science has failed to understand its own limitations when spokespersons for science assert that consciousness can be explained by a purely materialistic and reductionistic approach. The problem began during the 17th century enlightenment when science began to focus solely on empirical evidence by setting aside the problem of mind, of consciousness, of the subjective perspective. While the discovery of empirical s ...more
Doctor Moss
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This book was clearly intended by Thomas Nagel to be provocative, and it works. He has received a lot of passionate criticism for it. I think it is a daring and imaginative book. Whether it is right or not is a different question.

Here's how I understand Nagel's main argument.

I think the basic insight goes back to Nagel's "What Is It Like to be a Bat" paper. The point is that there IS something that it is like to be a bat, a subjective experience. That's not so different from saying that each one
Christopher Taylor
Early Greeks asked whether the world was made of air? Or water? Or fire? Or what? Modern philosophers ask whether mind is matter? Or matter mind? Or what? The questions change but the ontological debate continues. No shame in that. We are beings born to wonder. And wonder we do. The central point is whether we are clear and honest in posing our questions and constructing our answers.

In Mind and Cosmos Thomas Nagel continues this tradition with a plea for greater clarity and honesty with respect
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you want to read an analytic philosopher conduct the most thorough and convincing thought experiment on how things like self-awareness, intelligence, and morality could have emerged in geological time, then this is the book for you. the introduction is a fantastic "lol i'm not scientist butttttttt you guys seem to be actively avoiding several increasingly probable hypotheses and that seems weird and stupid," followed by a short set of chapters detailing an alternative reading of contemporary ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was interested in reading Mind and Cosmos because it offers a criticism of materialism from the perspective of a secular philosopher. While many critics of materialism are theists of some sort, Nagel makes it clear that, for him, postulating the existence of God is not a satisfying solution to what he sees as materialism's significant shortcomings. These shortcomings include an inability to account for immaterial consciousness, cognition, and values.

It was an interesting read, but the philosop
David M
Though I call myself an atheist for practical purposes, I'm deeply interested in philosophical arguments against naturalism (& "scientism" more generally). This is a useful book, even if Nagel's conclusions are mostly negative, and he stays within a fairly limited intellectual framework. Analytic philosophy is kind of stifling, no? I'd be interested to see a contemporary thinker of Nagel's rigor make use of the resources of phenomenology. ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much as The Last Word was Thomas Nagel's definitive take down of relativism, Mind and Cosmos is Nagel's take down of reductionist materialism. In Nagel's mind, this position (also called naturalism) is so "unbelievable" that it amounts to "a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense."

Of course, reductionist materialism is also (again, according to Nagel), "widely assumed to be the only serious possibility" among both scientists and philosophers. So he's not exactly making friends wi
Jay Green
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had greater hopes for this book than it could meet. I should have known from its brevity that it could never be anything more than an informal overview of the topic rather than an a piercing critique. Even the chapter on Consciousness, while solid, assumes that the reader already understands the fundamental hard problem of consciousness, best understood, I think as the problem that a universe characterized entirely by causation, whether deterministic or probabilistic, cannot have a witness (or ...more
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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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