Thomas Nagel
Mind and Cosmos

Oxford University Press 2012


Nagel-Mind 3
Keywords:
3
mind-body problem
8
Mind
13
consciousness, intentionality, meaning, purpose, thought, and value
35
Consciousness
41 I believe we will have to leave materialism behind.
44
making sense of the world.
50
The usual view of evolution must be revised. It is not just a physical
process.

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8 Mind: The great advances in the physical and biological sciences were made possible by excluding the mind from the physical world. This has permitted a quantitative understanding of that world, expressed in timeless, mathematically formulated physical laws. But at some point it will be necessary to make a new start on a more comprehensive understanding that includes the mind..
44 Even if consciousness is something that cannot be analysed in terms of the purely physical properties of organisms, its appearance still needs to be explained, as part of a larger project of
making sense of the world.
Further, any such explanation must account for the fact that the appearance of consciousness on Earth and the different forms it takes are closely dependent on the evolutionary development of those physical forms of life that have consciousness. We do not know precisely which forms of life these are, but we can be reasonably sure that they extend far beyond our species. The evolution of life must be at least part of the explanation of the development and forms of consciousness.
Boe: selfs - apearance of "distinction" - autopoiesis, self-organisation, the beginning of a world of meaning - vgl. Deacon


Nagel-Mind 56
Nagel-Mind 56
Keywords:
56
neutral monism
65 the intentional and teleological alternatives:
66 Purpose - Teleology
71 Cognition
mental functions such as thought, reasoning, and evaluation
72
nature as a system capable of generating mind
76
system of concepts that enables us to understand reality
77
principles of value
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56 Tom Sorell: Even if the mechanisms that produced biological life, including consciousness, are, at some level, the same as those that operate in the evolution of the physical universe, it does not follow that those mechanisms are physical just because physical evolution preceded biological involution. Perhaps some transphysical and transmental concept is required to capture both mechanisms.
This conjecture stakes out the territory of a something sometimes called “neutral monism” in addition to do list, materialist, and idealist positions
. Tom Sorell Descartes Reinvented, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pg.95

67 But it is essential,
if teleology is to form part of a revised natural order, that its laws should be genuinely universal and not just the description of a single goal seeking process. Since we are acquainted with only one instance of the appearance and evolution of life, we lack a basis for bringing it under universal teleological laws, unless teleological principles can be found operating consistently at much lower levels. But there would have to be such laws for teleology to genuinely explain anything. Admittedly, the idea of teleological explanation is often associated with a further idea that the outcomes have value, so that it is not arbitrary that those particular teleological principles hold. That in turn poses the question whether an explanation that appeals to value can be understood apart from the purposes of some being who aims at it.

68 Human consciousness is not merely passive but is permeated, both in action and cognition, with
intentionality, the capacity of the mind to represent the world and its own aims. It may be more controversial to claim that intentionality cannot be realised in a purely physical universe than that consciousness cannot be. However, if, as I believe, intentionality, thought, and action resist psychophysical reduction and can exist only in the lives of beings that are also capable of consciousness, then they too form part of what the larger explanation of the mental must account for.

Nagel-Mind82
Keywords:
82
world of appearance - world of objective reality
84 The appearance of
reason and language
85
cognitive shift is an expansion of consciousness
91
natural teleology
117
Value realism
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82
What is the faculty that enables us to escape from the world of appearance presented by our pre-reflexive innate dispositions, into the world of objective reality? And what, besides consciousness, do we have two adds to the biological story to make sense of such a faculty?

83 In ordinary perception, we are like mechanisms governed by a (roughly) truth preserving algorithm. But when we reason, we are like a mechanism that can see that the algorithm it follows is truth preserving.

84 The appearance of reason and language in the course of biological history seems, from the point of view of available forms of explanation, something radically emergent - if, as I assume, it cannot be understood behaviouristically. Like consciousness, it presents problems of both constitutive and historical explanation. It appeared long after the emergence of conscious creatures, yet it also seems to be essentially a development of consciousness and ought to be understandable as part of that history.

85 The great cognitive shift is an expansion of consciousness from the perspectival form contained in the lives of particular creatures to an objective, world-encompassing form that exists both individually and intersubjectively.
It was originally a biological evolutionary process, and in our species is has become a collective cultural process as well. Each of our lives is a part of the lengthy process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.

This, then, is what the Theory of Everything has to explain: not only the emergence from a lifeless universe of reproducing organisms and their development by evolution to greater and greater functional complexity; not only the consciousness of some of those organisms and its central role in their lives; but also the development of consciousness into an instrument of transcendence that can grasp objective reality and objective value.

117 Value realism must make sense of the fact that the biological evolutionary process and the physical and chemical history that preceded it have given rise to conscious creatures, to the real value that fills their lives and experiences, and ultimately to the self-conscious beings capable of judgement-sensitive attitudes who can respond to and be rationally motivated by their awareness of those values. The story includes huge quantities of pain as well as blood, so it does not lend itself to an optimistic teleological interpretation. Nevertheless, the development of value and moral understanding, like the development of knowledge and reason and the development of consciousness that underlies both of those higher-order functions, forms part of what the general conception of the cosmos must explain. As I have said, the process seems to be one of the universe gradually waking up. (Boe: the universe waking up - Buddha, the awoken one)

122 We must regard the appearance and evolution of life as something more than a history of the development of self-reproducing organisms, as it is in the Darwinian version. We recognise that evolution has given rise to multiple organisms that have a good, so that things can go well or badly for them. And that in some of those organisms there has appeared the additional capacity to aim consciously at their own good, and ultimately at what is good in itself.
From a realist perspective this cannot be merely an accidental side-effect of natural selection, and the teleological explanation satisfies this condition.
On a teleological account, the existence of value is not an accident, because it is part of the explanation of why there is such a thing is life, with all its possibilities of development and variation. In brief, value is not just an accidental side-effect of life; rather, there is life because life is a necessary condition of value.
(Compare Derek Parfit on why the universe exists. “Why Anything? Why This?”)




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