About Thomas Nagel

I learn about Thomas Nagel from you @jmk00001 from your thread. Do you WANT there to be a God? Then I watched videos Thomas Nagel.

@jmk00001 I wanted to share this video, but your thread was closed, so I looked and found this thread - due to this thread was in the popular link area of your thread

“The Absurd” by Thomas Nagel

This video had me thinking, does a mayflower ask, “What is the purpose of this?” Or do only humans ask what the purpose is? In this video, it is explained how Mayflowers are unaware of their lack of importance.

  • I think I personalized collective consciousness because I have a relationship, so in that way, yes, I want there be a God because God is my best friend.

@Tim I re-edit. I only including comments from other thread that led here.

@riversea: this is NOT a thread about Thomas Nagel. I would note that none of the comments you were replying to were even on this thread.

[Addendum: that comment, and @riversea’s above, were made as part of a different thread. However, given that this thread makes no more mention of Nagel than a single quote, used to frame the OP’s question, it is hard to see that it is any more on-topic here.]

If you want to discuss Thomas Nagel, please start a new thread on that topic. You can do so by clicking on the “+ New Topic” button on this Forum’s front page.

I will say, however, having only ever read Nagel and never having previously seen or heard him, he looks and sounds nothing like I imagined.

The image (from the video) isn’t of Nagel. It is of somebody talking about Nagel.

I’m not sure what you “imagined”. I’ve had only a very limited exposure to him myself. Principally the execrable Mind and Cosmos, and the general impression that he seems to value philosophical navel-gazing over anything remotely related to empiricism.



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Ah, OK.

Someone older, for one.

You are all correct about my lack of explanation; Matt Deaton was discussing Thomas Nagel’s ideas. Or did Matt Deaton and Thomas Nagel make this video using collective consciousness? What are your thoughts?

@Faizal_Ali @nwrickert @Tim can hear audio from the book when clicking on headphones. I didn’t listen to much of it. Maybe its more interesting as it gets further into book. The audio sounds like a robot.

Why would we want to listen to it rather than read it? For that matter, why would we be interested in the book at all? From its abstract on its publisher’s website, it is a defense of Rationalism against Subjectivism. Both viewpoints appear to be (to some extent) opposed to Empiricism, which would be closer to my own viewpoint, and I suspect that of most scientists. It would seem to be an argument between two subspecies of what I described above as “philosophical navel-gazing”.

Then why are you recommending it? And why are you attempting to engineer a discussion of Nagel if you aren’t in fact that ‘into’ him?

That’s hardly surprising – as the link is to the Internet Archive, the audio would be a computerised one created ‘on the fly’, rather than being a human-read audiobook.

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I’m not interested in audio books. I much prefer reading.

I have read several Nagel books, but I am not a fan of his. I might try reading this later, but I am already underwhelmed by the introduction.

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@nwrickert Can you tell me more about why you don’t like Thomas Nagel’s thinking?

Nagel gets a lot wrong in “Mind and Cosmos”. In “The View from Nowhere” he shows a naive understanding of “objective”. And “What is it like to be a bat?” is the wrong question to ask, since I cannot even describe what it is like to be me.


Here is a clearer and more enjoyable voice to listen to: doesn’t sound like a robot. I’m looking forward to listening. I’m new to Thomas Nagel, so I don’t have an opinion of him yet.

Thomas Nagel - What Is It Like to Be a Bat? [Philosophy Audiobook]

Yes, I’m going to listen so I can also play chess.

Can I play chess and listen at the same time? Or is this too deep to do so?

I’ll find out if I can comprehend while playing chess.

Questions from me

What is an atheist?
What is a “believer” in religion?
Is atheism a religion?

Here’s more questions

What are we learning from this video?
Is it my mind that is gaining knowledge?
Is it my brain that’s learning?
What exactly am I learning, and who is it from?

Is Thomas Nagel, everyone in this thread, and I in some kind of collective consciousness situation, and if so, where are we?

Another question I have

I’m curious because Thomas Nagel is a Jew: does Thomas Nagel have the M-124 gene? But did this M-124 gene spread through people in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia)?

Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors in India
A subset of Jews have the M-124 gene, which originated in India. This gene may have entered the Jewish gene pool during their Indus Valley beginnings; does this include Thomas Nagel? Does Thomas Nagel carry the M-124 gene, as after people left the Indus Valley, some of them traveled to Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia)? After the Hebrews arrived in Yisrael, how did some leave Yisrael and travel to (now) Serbia?

Nagel was born on July 4, 1937, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), to German Jewish refugees Carolyn (Baer) and Walter Nagel.[6][7] He arrived in the US in 1939, and was raised in and around New York.[7] He had no religious upbringing, but regards himself as a Jew.

People came from the Indus Valley, and what tribe ended up in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), and did these people carry the M-124 gene?

So who is Thomas Nagel actually? Where is Thomas Nagel now that his physical body passed away?

Will Thomas Nagel be reincarnated back to earth, and will Thomas Nagel in his new physical body realize it was him who wrote “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” when “he/she” reads it?

I don’t think you will find the answer to those questions in the “bat” paper. But it is interesting.

On the day my daughter’s high school philosophy class was to discuss this paper, all the students showed up in Batman costumes.


I guess you are about to find out.

My guess is that your chess playing will suffer and your comprehension of the book will also suffer. There will be occasions where the chess requires intense concentration, and you will miss some of what is being said in the audiobook at that time.

Anyone who is not a theist is an atheist.

This is quite variable. Some believers have only a shallow belief while others have deep commitments.

No. It can be, but in that case it is perhaps better described as “anti-theism”.

Difficult to say, and probably varies from person to person.

I take “mind” to be an abstraction, so it seems weird to say that it is gaining knowledge.

I think it is better to attribute learning to the person rather than to the brain, though there’s no doubt that the brain is involved in learning.

It is perhaps reasonable to say that western culture is a kind of collective consciousness. But I’m not sure that it makes sense to narrow that down to “everyone in this thread”.

As Nagel’s parents were “German Jewish refugees”, it is most likely that they were of Ashkenazi Jewish decent. A brief summary of the Y-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews, suggests that R2a/M124 is not predominant in that population.

I do however find this jump from Nagel’s philosophy to wild speculation about his genetics, to be somewhat disconcerting. Might I suggest that it would help keep this thread coherent, and thus comprehensible, if such leaps are avoided, where possible.

Every culture is collective consciousness.

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I think there is more to the R-M124 thesis. The National Geographic Society has a project on this. Plus you may kindly see

Haplogroup R-M124 is rare among Europeans and is also rare among Ashkenazi Jews. Its origin remains unclear and is a major motivation for this project. There are Jewish R-M124 individuals that have no known Eastern European Ashkenazi ancestry, but have a long Mizrachi heritage, with paternal lines dating back several hundred years in the Middle East. The existence of both Mizrachi and Ashkenazi Jews with common genetics and shared markers supports the probable shared origins discussed above, perhaps in ancient Babylonia or Persia. Recent genetic studies have suggested that Middle Eastern Mizrachi populations were formed by Jews in the Babylonian and Persian empires who are thought to have remained geographically continuous in those locales.[20] By investigating the Y-DNA markers of R-M124 Jews (and those with similar markers), this project will attempt to shed light on the ethnic origin and genetic makeup of Jews in the R-M124 haplogroup. [1]

It seems from this that it is Mizrahi Jews not Ashkenazi, that are associated with M124.

This supports my earlier contention that: