Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 213 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199919758
ISBN-10: 0199919755
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Trade in your item
Get a $6.38
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $24.95 Save: $6.23 (25%)
41 New from $15.44
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Mind & Cosmos: Why the Ma... has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
41 New from $15.44 23 Used from $16.24
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

"Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives"
Read award-winning author Tim Harford's provocative big idea book about the genuine benefits of being messy. Learn more | Kindle book
$18.72 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False
  • +
  • Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism
  • +
  • Knowledge and Christian Belief
Total price: $55.10
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


"If evolutionary biology redraws its boundaries as this book says it must, then the dialogue between theology and science will be considerably altered." --Anglican Theological Review

"[This] troublemaking book has sparked the most exciting disputation in many years... I like Nagel's mind and I like Nagel's cosmos. He thinks strictly but not imperiously, and in grateful view of the full tremendousness of existence." -- Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic

"A sharp, lucidly argued challenge to today's scientific worldview." -- Jim Holt, The Wall Street Journal

"Starts with a boldly discerning look at that strange creature, mankind, and comes to some remarkable speculations about who we are and what our place is in the universe... The very beauty of Nagel's theory - its power to inspire imagination - counts in its favor." -- Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"An intense philosophical takedown of Neo-Darwinism and scientific materialism. It's a brave and contrarian book. Reminds me of Wittgenstein's remark: 'Even if all our scientific questions are answered, our problem is still not touched at all.'" -- E.L. Doctorow, The New York Times Book Review

"Nagel's arguments against reductionism should give those who are in search of a reductionist physical 'theory of everything' pause for thought... The book serves as a challenging invitation to ponder the limits of science and as a reminder of the astonishing puzzle of consciousness." -- Science

"Mind and Cosmos, weighing in at 128 closely argued pages, is hardly a barn-burning polemic. But in his cool style Mr. Nagel extends his ideas about consciousness into a sweeping critique of the modern scientific worldview." -- The New York Times

"His important new book is a brief but powerful assault on materialist naturalism... [Nagel has] performed an important service with his withering critical examination of some of the most common and oppressive dogmas of our age." -- The New Republic

"[This] short, tightly argued, exacting new book is a work of considerable courage and importance." -- National Review

" Provocative... Reflects the efforts of a fiercely independent mind." -- H. Allen Orr, The New York Review of Books

"[Nagel] is an avowed nonbeliever, but regularly enrages the New Atheist crowd because he is determined to leave open a space... for the incomprehensible, for the numinous... and writes very honestly about that." -- James Wood

"This short book is packed like a neutron star. I found myself underlining so much that I had to highlight some underlining with further underlining and flag up this underlining in turn. Mind and Cosmos is a brave intervention." -- Raymond Tallis, The New Atlantis

"Challenging and intentionally disruptive... Unless one is a scientific Whig, one must strongly suspect that something someday will indeed succeed [contemporary science]. Nagel's Mind and Cosmos does not build a road to that destination, but it is much to have gestured toward a gap in the hills through which a road might someday run." -- The Los Angeles Review of Books

"A model of carefulness, sobriety and reason... Reading Nagel feels like opening the door on to a tidy, sunny room that you didn't know existed." -- The Guardian

"Fascinating... [A] call for revolution." -- Alva Noe, NPR's 13.7

"The book's wider questions -- its awe-inspiring questions -- turn outward to address the uncanny cognizability of the universe around us.... He's simply doing the old-fashioned Socratic work of gadfly, probing for gaps in what science thinks it knows." -- Louis B. Jones, The Threepenny Review

"[Attacks] the hidden hypocrisies of many reductionists, secularists, and those who wish to have it both ways on religious modes of thinking ... Fully recognizes the absurdities (my word, not his) of dualism, and thinks them through carefully and honestly."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"Mind and Cosmos is a mind-provoking, challenging, and enjoying read which carries the mark of Nagel's unique blend of originality, elegance, and intellectual honesty." --Philosophical Psychology

"Mind and Cosmos is...extraordinarily ambitious. Nagel proposes not merely a new explanation for the origin of life and consciousness, but a new type of explanation: 'natural teleology.'" -- Inference: International Review of Science

About the Author

Thomas Nagel is University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University. His books include The Possibility of Altruism, The View from Nowhere, and What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2008, he was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy and the Balzan Prize in Moral Philosophy.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (September 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199919755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199919758
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thomas Nagel is well-known for asking the question, "What is it like to be a bat?" I think it is a useful exercise to try to answer this question before reading his Mind and Cosmos. At dusk I see bats navigating expertly around trees and making precise changes of course to pluck an insect from the air. Bats evidently have as accurate a representation of three dimensional space as we do but with one crucial difference: it is constructed by a brain that relies on sound rather than light. Try to imagine that. Having a very detailed understanding of how neurons fire in the bat brain will get us no closer to understanding what it is like to be a bat. The same can be said of understanding human consciousness. A scanner that could show us the intricate patterns of neurons firing in real time would be a scientific (and aesthetic) marvel, but viewing the output would bring us no closer to understanding the experience of awareness, the meaning of the thoughts, of what it is like to be that person whose brain is being scanned. Material explanations cannot lead to the understanding of non-material consciousness.
Nagel builds on this insight more thoroughly than any other thinker I am aware of. His claim in this book is that science, being objective and materialist, can make only a limited claim to a Theory of Everything (TOE) because it cannot explain essentially subjective phenomena. Awareness, in all its forms in life on Earth, is a cosmological fact as much as is matter, organized as it is into particles, stars and brains. Science is very successful at prying out the material consequences of the big bang, where each new level of complexity is built on the inherent properties of lower levels.
Read more ›
43 Comments 293 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
It galls me that the only reviewer who gave this book five stars somehow sees it as an argument for theism which is definitely not so. It treats theism more or less like it does materialism - not as a solution to the problem but as a way of explaining it away, in the particular case of theism simply by kicking the can further down the road (See Nagel's recent review of the new Alvin Plantinga's book in NYRB).
For me, however, the main thrust of its argument is against the currently prevalent physicalist reductionism which has been my own worldview for the past ten years or so for the lack of anything better. I have always been aware of the unease with which this approach treats the problem of mind and consciousness, tying itself into knots by either ignoring it altogether as a purely subjective realm of qualia or squeezing it into the general deterministic scheme of thing and denying the possibility of free will and moral choice.
It takes a lot of intellectual courage to point out that consciousness is not an ephemeral byproduct of the evolution but its essential component that begs to be included in every attempt of the exhaustive explanation of reality. Thomas Nagel is one of a few who possess that kind of courage.
And please, do not believe someone who calls the book "tidious". It is extremely lucid for this kind of philosophical work, reads like an adventure novel. A veritable marvel of a book, a rare pleasure.
33 Comments 418 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You've got to admire a guy who stands up against an entrenched, largely mannerless establishment and points out that the emperor, in fact, has no clothes.

This book opens a conversation that's long overdue. The book has some great soundbytes:

In response to those who say 'the universe requires no explanation, since there are infinite universes and we'd inevitably find ourselves in one of them' he replies:

"If I ask for an explanation of the fact that the air pressure in the transcontinental jet is close to that at sea level, it is no answer to point out that if it weren't, I'd be dead."

On page 83 he points out that humans value reason above physical circumstances or comforts, and the mystery of how our minds make contact with rationality cannot be explained by survival alone.

Nagel uses philosophy to touch scientific questions that have been raised by Hubert Yockey, for example, who shows that the origin of the genetic code is "possible but not knowable," because while it obeys the laws of physics, the laws of physics do not explain how any code comes into being.

On page 53 he touches on questions about the process of evolution itself - he argues for "abandoning the standard assumption that evolution is driven by exclusively physical causes." This thinking is very much in line with much of the field of bioinformatics and recent evolutionary researchers such as Jablonka, Shapiro, Kirschner and Witzany.
Read more ›
9 Comments 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is an odd book by a very respectable, established philosopher. The arguments are sensible, responsible, and are shared more or less by a number of reputable scientists, yet the reader knows the book is a potential outrage to the gatekeepers of materialism. That is what is weird. It reminds me of the Army-McCarthy hearings when Joseph Nye Welch directly challenges the man himself ("Have you left no sense of decency?"), and instead of incurring suspicion...he gets applauded by everyone in the gallery! And so should Nagel. He merely points out that there is a Darwinism-of-the-gaps at work in much of the scientific community, and perhaps it is time to step back and take a more balanced, imaginative look at a world that in certain respects strongly resists a materialist-reductionist reading. Science is supposedly eager to upset everything, but in actual fact there are sacred limits to what some scientists (or self-appointed popularists of scientism) are willing to question. Nagel's own suggestions point toward a less-than-rosy teleological neutral monism. Honestly, I don't see what is so frightening about that, even for a God hater. The most "scandalous" thing about the book is that it credits (almost as a side note) ID people with asking some very good questions, and concedes that some form of theistic intentionalism is not preposterous given certain features of the world. He himself stays far away from theism for reasons he clearly states, but he is outrageous enough to forego insults. (Naughty Thomas, neither hot nor cold, fit to be spewed from God's mouth!)

The book is very carefully reasoned and at times not quite "popular" in its technicality.
Read more ›
7 Comments 237 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False