jeudi 20 septembre 2012

Lewis and Nagel Against Materialist Monism

I will copy one wiki about Thomas Nagel's book Mind and Cosmos:
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False is a 2012 book by Thomas Nagel, Professor of Philosophy at New York University.


In the book, Nagel argues that the materialist version of evolutionary biology is unable to account for the existence of mind and consciousness, and is therefore at best incomplete. He writes that mind is a basic aspect of nature, and that any philosophy of nature that cannot account for it is fundamentally misguided.[1] He argues that the standard physico-chemical reductionist account of the emergence of life - that it emerged out of a series of accidents, acted upon by the mechanism of natural selection - flies in the face of common sense.[2]

Nagel's position is that principles of an entirely different kind may account for the emergence of life, and in particular conscious life, and that those principles may be teleological, rather than materialist or mechanistic. He stresses that his argument is not a religious one, and that it is not based on intelligent design (ID), though he writes that ID proponents such as Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, and David Berlinski do not deserve the scorn with which their ideas have been met by parts of the scientific establishment.[3]

^ see p. 16ff.
^ pp. 5-6
^ p. 10

I will now ask readers of C. S. Lewis which book they are reminded of. It is not exactly one of the Narnias. Nor is it the Perelandra Trilogy, though parts of That Hideous Strength spring to mind. It is a book which he debated with a contemporary philosopher. Miracles. 1947.

C. S. Lewis' argument for Theism as of Christian / Jewish / Moslem / Platonist form begins with an identical argument or nearly so which is indistinct as to Theism, Pantheism, Dualism, Averroism, but which rules out Materialism. He then goes about to rule out Averroism and Pantheism: if God is doing all the thinking, why would he impose on himself to think wrongly through human reasoners who are mistaken? After that he rules out Dualism too: imagining the good and evil principles, or for that matter simply mind and matter as side-by-side, both ignores part of our common sense experience of them (mind ruling matter is for good of both, matter ruling mind is of ill of both, good is selfcontained, ill and evil is parasitic) and smuggles in the idea of "a common space" in which both could exist side by side.

The contemporary philosopher, I think she was called Anscombe, did not radically challenge the ruling out of Averroism or Dualism as much as attack CSL's attack on Naturalism - or what Thomas Nagel calls Materialism.

I would ask two things of Thomas Nagel:
  • if his "Materialism" is any different from the "Naturalism" in CSL's Miracles
  • if not, and in case he answers either that or CSL's outruling of Averroism (non-Theist Jews tend to late Averroist Spinoza) in the book, then notify me about that please. Right now I have no access to it.

From the rest I ask that readers of Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos also check out C. S. L's Miracles.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibl. Audoux, Paris
St Eustace
20th September 2012

PS: I do not think Creation Science deserves the scorn given it by scientific establishment either. But that is not in either Nagel or Lewis (at least not that book, though he later wrote an essay called Funeral of a Great Myth), so you may check out my stance on my Creationist blog.

And if you do not know how to find the books, I will give links to Amazon: Mind and Cosmos, and Miracles. I might be back on topic after looking at preview pages in either of the two books.