New issue, now live
Dominic Preziosi May 6, 2013 - 4:42pm
The new issue is now live. Featured is a package of essays on Thomas Nagels Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, with philosopher Gary Gutting, biologist Kenneth R. Miller, and physicist Stephen M. Barr discussing what the Guardian named the Most Despised Science Book of 2012.From our editors introduction to the piece:
In Mind and Cosmos, Nagel argues that the Neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly wrong because it cannot explain the origin of conscious life, much less the human minds ability to apprehend scientific truths or objective moral and aesthetic values. In the books introduction, Nagel writes that the failure of neo-Darwinian theory to offer a satisfactory account of these things suggests that principles of a different kind are also at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic. Nagel does not believe these principles are supernatural; as an atheist, he rejects every kind of supernatural explanation. But he also rejects the claim that the natural world is reducible to the material world. Consciousness, he believes, is no less natural than the material world, but is not itself material. Nagel does not propose a scientific alternative or supplement to Neo-Darwinian theory; instead, he presents the problems that such an alternative would have to solve. Humans are addicted to the hope for a final reckoning, but intellectual humility requires that we resist the temptation to assume that tools of the kind we now have are in principle sufficient to understand the universe as a whole. Pointing out their limits is a philosophical task, whoever engages in it, rather than part of the internal pursuit of sciencethough we can hope that if the limits are recognized, that may eventually lead to the discovery of new forms of scientific understanding.
About the Author
Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.