Thomas Nagel is University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.
Nagel has a problem with reductive materialism (which I share), particularly its attempt to ground everything, including subjective experience, in matter:
"Nagel insists that the mind-body problem 'is not just a local problem' but 'invades our understanding of the entire cosmos and its history.' If what he calls 'materialist naturalism' or just 'materialism' can't explain consciousness, then it can't fully account for life since consciousness is a feature of life. And if it can't explain life, then it can't fully account for the chemical and physical universe since life is a feature of that universe. Subjective experience is not, to Nagel, some detail that materialist science can hand-wave away. It's a deal breaker. Nagel believes that any future science that grapples seriously with the mind-body problem will be one that is radically reconceived."
However, Nagel also thinks that neo-Darwianism must be reconcieved. (According to Orr, Neo-Darwinianism "maintains, or at least implies, that the origin and history of life can be explained by materialist means."):
"Once the first life arose on earth, the fate of the resulting evolutionary lineage was, neo-Darwinists argued, shaped by a combination of random mutation and natural selection. Biological types that survive or reproduce better than others will ultimately replace those others. While natural selection ensures that species constantly adapt to the changing environments around them, the process has no foresight: natural selection responds only to the present environment and evolution cannot, therefore, be aiming for any goal. This view, Nagel tells us, is 'almost certainly false.'"
Lest you suspect that Nagel is a creationist, he is not. He's not claiming any of the nonsense that creationists claim (life is 6,000 years old, it did not evolve, natural selection is wrong, etc.). Nagel believes that natural selection had a part in the evolution of life. In fact, he's an atheist. Rather, Nagel's view is that neo-Darwinism and materialism are radically incomplete. Nagel attacks the assumption that random mutations, along with natural selection, were sufficient to give rise to self-replicating life, and to the formation of complex organisms. Instead, Nagel proposes a kind of teleology -- a tendency of the universe to aim for certain goals as it unfolds through time:
"Nagel believes that (currently unknown) teleological laws of nature might mean that life and consciousness arise with greater probability than would result from the known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology."
The reviewer, a biologist, is critical of Nagel's views on teleology -- I have some reservations myself -- but he admits:
"I will also be the first to admit that we cannot rule out the formal possibility of teleology in nature. It could turn out that teleological laws affect how the universe unfolds through time. While I suspect some might regard such heterodoxy as a crime against science, Nagel is right that there's nothing intrinsically unscientific about teleology. If that's the way nature is, that's the way it is, and we scientists would need to get on with the business of characterizing these surprising laws."
When it comes to the matter of consciousness, the reviewer is less critical, and here I'm in agreement with Nagel. We have no idea how consciousness can be reduced to matter:
"Brains and neurons obviously have everything to do with consciousness but how such mere objects can give rise to the eerily different phenomenon of subjective experience seems utterly incomprehensible."