Thomas Nagel

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Thomas Nagel (born July 4, 1937) is a professor of philosophy at New York University. He received bachelor's degrees from Cornell University in 1958, Oxford University in 1960, and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1963. [1] (http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/nagel/nagelcv.pdf)

He is known within the field of philosophy of mind as an advocate of the idea that consciousness and subjective experience cannot be reduced to brain activity. One of his most famous articles is "What is it like to be a bat?" The article's title question, though often attributed to Nagel, was originally posed by Timothy L.S. Sprigge. This article was originally published in 1974 in The Philosophical Review but has since been reprinted in several books that are concerned with consciousness and the mind, such as The Mind's I, edited by Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter. The article has also been reprinted in Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology, edited by Ned Block, and in the book Mortal Questions.

Nagel first argued that the subjective experience of consciousness can never be attained through the objective methods of reductionistic science. Conscious experience has a subjective character to it, and science, which seeks an objective, general description of nature, cannot capture the subjective character of consciousness. Second, Nagel concluded that because of the subjective character of experience, "we cannot even pose the mind-body problem" in a sensible way and "it seems unlikely that a physical theory of mind can be contemplated." While many philosophers of mind and cognitive neuroscientists accept the fundamental distinction between the subjective and the objective, they often have not accepted Nagel's conclusions. For example, philosophers such as Michael Tye have proposed reductive theories of subjective consciousness. On the other hand, some philosophers, most notably Daniel Dennett, deemed the subjective a cognitive illusion.

For many years, Nagel has conducted a seminar noted for a dazzling array of guest speakers with his colleague Ronald Dworkin.

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