Friday, January 16, 2015

Nagel's Absolute Idealism

On p. 17 he identifies his position as objective idealist, and includes the post-Kantians Schelling and Hegel as representatives of his view, which are usually called absolute idealists. This is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis, who, once he became persuaded of the correctness of his Argument from Reason against naturalism, became, not a theist, but a Hegelian Absolute Idealists. His reason for avoiding theism could easily be described in Nagelian terms as a cosmic authority problem. Of course, Lewis eventually rejected Absolute Idealism in favor of first theism and then finally Christianity, while Nagel, of course, has not done this. 


Bilbo said...

P.17 of what?

Victor Reppert said...

Mind and Cosmos.

im-skeptical said...

Victor seems to love this guy. I'm not impressed.

oozzielionel said...

I am quite puzzled by this paragraph on your blog:
"Atheism doesn't entail any particular metaphysical view. But it is fair to say that a mainstream form of atheism is a scientific, materialist understanding of the world, based on empirical evidence. I refer to this as rational atheism. Of course, there are other atheistic views, but they depart from the rational scientific mainstream."

The first sentence does not seem to go with the rest. Rational atheism certainly qualifies as a metaphysical view, yes?

im-skeptical said...

"The first sentence does not seem to go with the rest."

Being an atheist doesn't mean you are rational, or scientific. You could believe in spirits or magic or some immaterial realm. Your reason for being an atheist might be completely irrational. For example, if (as some theists claim) you are afraid of what belief in a god entails, you may choose to avoid the consequences of theistic belief by not believing. This would be really stupid, but it seems to be consistent with what Nagel has said.

The point is that being an atheist doesn't imply (or entail) anything at all about your metaphysical beliefs.

That being said, many atheists are are atheists precisely because they have rejected a faith-based view if favor of an evidence-based, scientific understanding of the world.

oozzielionel said...

"they have rejected a faith-based view if favor of an evidence-based, scientific understanding of the world."

...which is still a view with metaphysical understandings? Your description of your brand of atheism certainly describes an epistemology (scientific, empirical) and even an ontology (materialistic); even implying a cosmology.

im-skeptical said...

"...which is still a view with metaphysical understandings?"

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. I didn't say that being an atheist implies that you have no metaphysical view.

oozzielionel said...

OK, I think I understand. Among atheists, there may be different metaphysical views. One of which is rational atheism.

In this case, Nagel could claim to be an atheist. In that context,you, also self identifying as an atheist, have plenty of room under that tent to disagree with him even to the point where you say he agrees more with theists than with you.

Labels are often not helpful at all.

Papalinton said...

No oozielionel. Your characterisation is not correct. Nagel is an atheist in that he does not for one moment subscribe to idea that it was the Abrahamic god that created and maintains the universe. Skep equally accords with this view. I think almost certainly that Nagel does not subscribe to any of the innumerable gods that humankind has conjured since the dawn of history.

But where they do irreconcilably diverge is, where Nagel imagines the existence of some Deepak Chopra-ish mysterious cosmic force that manipulatively shapes the universe to some predetermined teleologically-designed purpose [a belief in a 'Mother Nature' essence for want of a better analogy] that cannot be explained by science, Skep does not.

Equally, as a theist you have much more in common with Muslims, Hindus, Jainists, Scientologists, Mormons than you would with Nagel or Skep, given the collective propensity to believe in the existence of supernatural, putatively live non-human entities as a function of reality, although you would intensely disagree with the content and form of their supernaturalism . But it seems you [and Victor, crude etc etc] are very much hand in glove with Nagel's teleological perspective although you would most certainly eschew his atheism.

Nagel equivocates. He has a foot in both camps unsure and unable to release the buckle that tethers him to our evolutionary genetic predisposition to see agency and intention everywhere.

Prof Steven Novella, Yale University, encapsulates some of the recent research into this evolutionary predisposition HERE

THIS little snippet also introduces some interesting insights into our proclivity for agency detection.

Papalinton said...

Prof Steven Novella, Yale University, encapsulates some of the recent research into this evolutionary predisposition HERE

Ah! That's better.

oozzielionel said...

"Barrett and others have speculated that HADD is important to the development of religion – where God is the ultimate invisible agent. So far this hypothesis has not been significantly researched, but it does seem reasonable. "

Nicely encapsulated unsubstantiated hypothesis.

im-skeptical said...

"Nicely encapsulated unsubstantiated hypothesis."

As far as the scientific consensus goes, it seems to be between HADD and HIDD (hyperactive intentionality detection device). The two are very closely related.

If you want an example of a real unsubstantiated hypothesis, look no further than your own religious explanation.

Papalinton said...

A CLICK HERE will help those to access the site Skep refers.