A new book saying the Darwinian-Materialist model has failed, because it cannot explain consciousness and intentionality

Gintas writes:

I saw a link to this upcoming book on Edward Feser’s blog. Thomas Nagel is a secular philosopher.

Mind and Cosmos

Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False

The modern materialist approach to life has utterly failed to explain such central features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, or value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

In Mind and Cosmos, Nagel provides an insightful analysis of the Darwinian world view, offering a perspective quite different from that found in such books as Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. What we know about how mind and everything connected with it depends today on our ideas about the origin and spread of living organisms as a result of the universe’s evolution. But Nagel states that “it is prima facie highly implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection.” What is the likelihood that self-reproducing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously? What is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit natural selection? Nagel’s skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. He does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.

In spite of the great achievements of reductive materialism, it is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least of being open to their possibility.

In other words, your emphasis on the mind and consciousness and meaning has been right on target, shooting like Robin Hood. I like “In spite of the great achievements of reductive materialism, it is a world view ripe for displacement.” A world view that doesn’t account for reality is doomed; is not liberalism joined at the hip to reductive materialism? Fatally, let us hope. Will rightist reductive materialists go down with liberalism? I’m keen to see this displacement.

I think I’ll order this book—it comes out in September.

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April 22

Joseph A. writes:

Nagel is respected in academic philosophy. The fissures in the edifice of materialism are widening. When it goes, much of the rest of modernity’s ugly city will crumble.

We are certainly due for another paradigm shift. To what, though? I suspect that we live in an exciting age, when we are about to witness a great transformation in our civilization. For how long can our society persevere with ideas so obviously false—and seen as such by more and more people? I groan with apocalyptic hope, “The end must be near!”

I wonder if this is how Edwardian men felt (concerning impending world revolutions). Could they sense it?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 18, 2012 12:25 PM | Send

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