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Mortal Questions (Canto) Paperback – June 28, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0521406765 ISBN-10: 0521406765

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Product Details

  • Series: Canto
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 28, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521406765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521406765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Thomas Nagel writes with all the clarity and all the plainness of style that analytical philosophers have always admired ... if anyone can seize and keep the general reader's attention, it must be Thomas Nagel with this book.' New Statesman

'... a fine achievement. Few professional philosophers have written so rationally and agreeably on such a variety of difficult and serious problems.' P. F. Strawson, New York Review of Books

'These essays ... convey to an interested non-philosopher a real sense of the excitement and significance of philosophical enquiry.' R. A. Duff, The Literary Review

Book Description

Thomas Nagel's Mortal Questions explores some fundamental issues concerning the meaning, nature and value of human life. This original and illuminating book aims at a form of understanding that is both theoretical and personal in its lively engagement with what are literally issues of life and death. --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By RW on June 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although this book is very interesting and readable, it is ultimately a collection of largely unrelated essays by Nagel, most of which were written in the 1970's. For the Nagel enthusiast, it is a must. For the beginner, I would HIGHLY recomend Nagel's "The View From Nowhere". For one, "Nowhere" is shorter and therefore, I think, more accessable to the general reader. Like "Mortal Questions", it is also a collection of essays on various topics in philosophy, but with a much broader subject area. While Nagel's topics in "Mortal Questions" include war, disobediance, gender equality and the politics of preference (all matters of immanent concern in 1970's America), "Nowhere" tackles free will, personal identity and the pursuit of objectivity in a lucid and straightforward manner.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
I read this book many years ago, and even now it sticks in my mind. This book covers a whole range of important issues in a way which is always accessible, yet surprising.
While many academic philosophers are lost in esoterica, Nagel brings a disciplined and creative mind to bear on "Mortal Questions." His thinking is sophisticated, but his writing style makes it seem easy. Among the topics he covers are the meaning of life and the nature of sex. He begins the latter essay with the intriguing opening "There is something to be learned about sex from the fact that we think it can be perverted."
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Nagel (born 1937) is an American philosopher, currently University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. He has written many other books, such as What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, The View From Nowhere, Equality and Partiality, The Possibility of Altruism, The Last Word, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to a 215-page paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to this 1979 book, “My own philosophical sympathies and antipathies are easily stated. I believe one should trust problems over solutions, intuition over arguments, and pluralistic discord over systematic harmony. Simplicity and elegance are never reasons to think that a philosophical theory is true: on the contrary, they are usually grounds for thinking it false… It is always reasonable in philosophy to have great respect for the intuitive sense of an unsolved problem, because in philosophy our methods are always themselves in question, and this is one way of being prepared to abandon them at any point. What ties these views about philosophical practice together is the assumption that to create understanding, philosophy must CONVINCE.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this work for philosophers and lay-people alike. This is an excellent collection of some of Nagel's thoughts on a wide range of thought-provoking topics. More than the appeal of the topics discussed, it is the clear, lucid, plain-language approach to philosophical analysis that sets this book apart. The ruminations on death and absurdity are among the highlights, along with the famous analysis of what it is like to be a bat.
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