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Thomas Nagel

Datum narození: 4. červenec 1937

Thomas Nagel je jugoslávsko-americký filozof židovského původu, profesor na New York University. Vystudoval filozofii na Oxfordu a Harvardu, kde byl žákem Johna Rawlse. Zabývá se především filozofií mysli, politickou filozofií a etikou.


„Proč si vůbec uvědomujeme, že jsme naživu?“

„Když člověk nechá z nedbalosti dítě ve vaně, kterou napouští, uvědomí si pak, když vybíhá po schodech, že jestli se dítě utopilo, provedl něco strašného, ale jestli se neutopilo, byl jen neopatrný.“


„Jednoho dne nám dojde, že dnešní snahy chápat mysl pomocí analogie s počítači zkonstruovanými člověkem, schopnými znamenitě se vypořádat se stejnými vnějšími úkoly jako bytosti obdařené vědomím, jsou obrovskou ztrátou času.“

„Absurdity is one of the most human things about us: a manifestation of our most advanced and interesting characteristics.“

„The point is... to live one's life in the full complexity of what one is, which is something much darker, more contradictory, more of a maelstrom of impulses and passions, of cruelty, ecstacy, and madness, than is apparent to the civilized being who glides on the surface and fits smoothly into the world.“

„In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)“

„I believe the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude for challenging a scientific world view that owes some of the passion displayed by its adherents precisely to the fact that it is thought to liberate us from religion. That world view is ripe for displacement....“ Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

„In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture... by the defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers likeandare motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. Another skeptic,, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair.“


„The denier that ID [intelligent design] is science faces the following dilemma. Either he admits that the intervention of such a designer is possible, or he does not. If he does not, he must explain why that belief is more scientific than the belief that a designer is possible. If on the other hand he believes that a designer is possible, then he can argue that the evidence is overwhelmingly against the actions of such a designer, but he cannot say that someone who offers evidence on the other side is doing something of a fundamentally different kind. All he can say about that person is that he is scientifically mistaken.“

„Even if life as a whole is meaningless, perhaps that's nothing to worry about. Perhaps we can recognise it and just go on as before.“ What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy

„I should not really object to dying were it not followed by death.“

„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 it 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.“


„It is often remarked that nothing we do now will matter in a million years. But if that is true, then by the same token, nothing that will be the case in a million years matters now. In particular, it does not matter now that in million years nothing we do now will matter.“ Mortal Questions

„The universe has become not only conscious and aware of itself but capable in some respects of choosing its path into the future--though all three, the consciousness, the knowledge, and the choice, are dispersed over a vast crowd of beings, acting both individually and collectively.“ Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

„To put it schematically, the claim "Everything is subjective" must be nonsense, for it would itself have to be either subjective or objective. But it can't be objective, since in that case it would be false if true. And it can't be subjective, because then it would not rule out any objective claim, including the claim that it is objectively false.“ The Last Word

„In every area of thought we must rely ultimately on our judgments, tested by reflection, subject to correction by the counterarguments of others, modified by the imagination and by comparison with alternatives. Antirealism is always a conjectural possibility: the question can always be posed, whether there is anything more to truth in a certain domain than our tendency to reach certain conclusions in this way, perhaps in convergence with others. Sometimes, as with grammar or etiquette, the answer is no. For that reason the intuitive conviction that a particular domain, like the physical world, or mathematics, or morality, or aesthetics, is one in which our judgments are attempts to respond to a kind of truth that is independent of them may be impossible to establish decisively. Yet it may be very robust all the same, and not unjustified.

To be sure, there are competing subjectivist explanations of the appearance of mind-independence in the truth of moral and other value judgments. One of the things a sophisticated subjectivism allows us to say when we judge that infanticide is wrong is that it would be wrong even if none of us thought so, even though that second judgment too is still ultimately grounded in our responses. However, I find those quasi-realist, expressivist accounts of the ground of objectivity in moral judgments no more plausible than the subjectivist account of simpler value judgments. These epicycles are of the same kind as the original proposal: they deny that value judgments can be true in their own right, and this does not accord with what I believe to be the best overall understanding of our thought about value.

There is no crucial experiment that will establish or refute realism about value. One ground for rejecting it, the type used by Hume, is simply question-begging: if it is supposed that objective moral truths can exist only if they are like other kinds of facts--physical, psychological, or logical--then it is clear that there aren't any. But the failure of this argument doesn't prove that thereobjective moral truths. Positive support for realism can come only from the fruitfulness of evaluative and moral thought in producing results, including corrections of beliefs formerly widely held and the development of new and improved methods and arguments over time. The realist interpretation of what we are doing in thinking about these things can carry conviction only if it is a better account than the subjectivist or social-constructivist alternatives, and that is always going to be a comparative question and a matter of judgment, as it is about any other domain, whether it be mathematics or science or history or aesthetics.“
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

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