The Heretical Thomas Nagel

Resident commenter WalkerW has an interesting piece on his own blog about Questionable Metaphysics. The post is interesting (you should read it!) and goes into some of the philosophical issues that I also care about, from the New Atheists (“The problem is not that these skeptics disagree with classical theism…, but that they do not even understand the classical theist arguments.”) to epistemic humility (“Human limitation is a great reason for intellectual humility.”).

2013 03 26 Mind and Cosmos

Along the way, Walker also linked to an article about Thomas Nagel’s most recent book: Mind and Cosmos. Nagel is one of the most famous philosophers alive today, and he’s been a favorite of mine since I read his takedown of relativism: The Last Word. For that reason, I’m sad to see Nagel turned on by the critics and being virtually burned at the stake as a heretic.

The problem is clear from the book’s subtitle: “Why the materialist, neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false.” Now, if Nagel was a religious person attacking materialist neo-Darwinianism, that would be bad and he’d be mocked. The trouble, however, is that Nagel is a staunch atheist. This means he’s betraying his own religion (yeah, I’m still calling this variant of secularism a religion), and that earns him a very special level of hostility.

The Weekly Standard is, of course, a conservative article so you’ll have to read past a certain amount of political slant, but the article is fascinating in how it describes the reaction from Dennet, Dawkins, and other New Atheists to Nagel’s heresy.

I know I’m definitely eager to get my hands on a copy of Nagel’s latest.

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