4.06.2015

Initial thoughts on Mind and Cosmos

Today I started reading Thomas Nagel's "Mind and Cosmos". The thesis of the book is that both the Neo-Darwinian reductionist and theistic explanations for life are inadequate for explaining phenomenon such as human consciousness and values. He feels that in order to continue the rate of progress science has made since the enlightenment, scientists must reject a strictly materialist worldview while staying clear of affirming theism.

So far it's a very interesting read, however, after the first two chapters, I don't think Nagel quite understands the Thomist conception of god, either that or his portrayal of theism for the book is a straw-man. Nagel is adamant that theism isn't useful since "god" is separate from his creation. In Thomist thinking however, God and the natural world are not the completely separate entities that Nagel imagines them out to be. The classical (Christian) theist conception of God is that he is being itself, and David Hart makes the argument that this a very similar conception of God in a wide array of theistic religions.

This is a big problem in Nagel's book, because he uses the term "theism" vaguely, and when he does talk about the God of this "theism", it is separate from the cosmos. His theism is something of a caricature, and that caricature seems to be required for his argument.

So far my questions would be, "if the cosmos is teleologically predisposed to evolve creatures who have mind where did that teleology come from?" Does the cosmos have mind or just beget mind? If it doesn't have mind, how does non-mind beget mind? or If it does have mind, how is it that mind not (a) "god"?