The View From Nowhere
Human beings have the unique ability to view the world in a detached way: We can think about the world in terms that transcend our own experience or interest, and consider the world from a vantage point that is, in Nagel's words, "nowhere in particular." At the same time, each of us is a particular person in a particular place, each with his own "personal" view of the world, a view that we can recognize as just one aspect of the whole. How do we reconcile these two standpoints--intellectually, morally, and practically? To what extent are they irreconcilable and to what extent can they be integrated? Thomas Nagel's ambitious and lively book tackles this fundamental issue, arguing that our divided nature is the root of a whole range of philosophical problems, touching, as it does, every aspect of human life. He deals with its manifestations in such fields of philosophy as: the mind-body problem, personal identity, knowledge and skepticism, thought and reality, free will, ethics, the relation between moral and other values, the meaning of life, and death. Excessive objectification has been a malady of recent analytic philosophy, claims Nagel, it has led to implausible forms of reductionism in the philosophy of mind and elsewhere. The solution is not to inhibit the objectifying impulse, but to insist that it learn to live alongside the internal perspectives that cannot be either discarded or objectified. Reconciliation between the two standpoints, in the end, is not always possible.
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able action agent agent-neutral agent-relative reasons alternative anthropic principle appear argument attitude autonomy believe brain capacity centerless claims complete conceive concept of mind conflict consequentialist death deontological depends Descartes desires detached dual aspect theory epistemological essential ethics evil example existence experience explain extent external standpoint external view fact human ical idea impersonal morality impersonal standpoint impersonal value includes independent individual limited lives mean mental mental events mind-body problem motives nature neutral reasons normative objective conception objective standpoint objective view one's ordinary ourselves Parfit particular personal identity perspective philosophical philosophy of mind physical pleasure and pain point of view position possible primary qualities problem properties psychological psychophysical question radical rational realism reductionism reference regard relation rience seems sense simply skepticism solipsism someone subjective things Thomas Nagel thought tion tive true truth understanding utilitarianism Wittgenstein