Talk:Thomas Nagel

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This article could really do with some discussion about his other work, such as "The view from nowhere", and "The possibility of Altruism". - Alex Gregory 26/10/05

This is one of the more interesting philosophers living. Someone really ought to expand and improve this article. I would do it myself, except that I'm certainly not up to the task. Hopefully, at some near date, this article will be as good and as comprehensive as some of the others on contemporary leading philosophers, like Searle, Putnam and Dennett.

I agree with both of the above. I recently expanded the article, but it could still use some a lot more expansion, especially on his views outside the philosophy of mind. I'm more familiar with his views in the philosophy of mind, as opposed to ethics, so I am not best suited to contribute in that department. -- Jaymay 06:19, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I think it'll be nice to add to the article how to pronouce his name. I am Israely philosophy grad student, and I (and my colleages) are not sure - is the 'g' in Nagel like in 'bagel' or 'angel'? and is the 'a' like 'table' or like 'Amish'. For, after all, he was not born in an english-speaking country. Doombir 17:58, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Nagel rhymes with bagel.Lestrade (talk) 10:46, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Lestrade


There is an error here: Nagel received an Oxford BPhil in Philosophy. BPhil is a famous master's level degree at Oxford, NOT just another bachelor's degree. Department of Philosophy is the only dpt. at Oxford that stil holds on to this old style, although the meaning of BPhil has changed elsewhere in Europe.

It's not true that Dennett thinks that the consciousness is an illusion, that's a huge misunderstanding! I think it's safer just to delete the sentence about Dennett because all discussion over Dennett's theory should go into his own entry.

The sentence about Dennett wasn't really necessary anyway, so I deleted it. This is an article about Nagel and his views, not a survey article about consciousness and so on. -- Jaymay 06:19, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
It's like the 'g' in 'bagel' 09:36, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

How is it possible that his family is Jewish yet he is not described as being Jewish himself? If he has biologically Jewish parents, then he is Jewish. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zichenstein (talkcontribs) 13:54, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


I just italicized all of book titles in this article.

His classes are really boring even though he is a genius?


Is it accurate to list Nagel as an atheist? If so, please cite a source. The anti-reductuinalist/quasi-anti-materialist/quasi-dualist view (or, in other words, that "consciousness and subjective experience cannot be reduced to brain activity") he takes up in "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" seems, in my mind (pun sort of intended) to imply otherwise. Ejectgoose 23:11, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

I think his views on the Philosophy of Mind are irrelevant to his theistic beliefs; I cannot think of a single time in his papers that he mentions God, and indeed dualism is not a theological belief necessarily (and indeed Nagel is not a dualist). Seeing as we have no reference either way, though, let us not mention anything about his religious beliefs. Batmanand | Talk 00:19, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Nagel wrote an article titled "Public Education and Intelligent Design"(PDF). It shed a favourable light on public education of intelligent design. Stampit (talk) 01:17, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

If anyone is still curious about sources: and . DeepBlackWater 17:29, 1 Nov 2007 (EST)

Although Nagel is surely not an anti-religious man, his atheism is well-known. In fact, the following statement made by him about the fear of religion in the book The Last Word (page 130, Oxford University Press,1997), has become quite famous: "I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."123Calvario (talk) 22:34, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Intelligent Design[edit]

Would anyone object to the addition of a section on Nagel's recent work on ID? It doesn't seem to fit neatly into the Mind & Ethics sections, so I would think a new section appropriate. Here's a rough first draft of what I thought could be added: Nagel has attracted considerable criticism over his views on Intelligent Design (ID). Although he does not accept ID, he also does not accept the rejection of ID as non-scientific or merely religious, writing in 2008 "ID is very different from creation science...Whatever the merits, however, [it] is clearly a scientific disagreement, not a disagreement between science and something else."[1] In 2009 Nagel recommended the Stephen Meyer's book Signature in the Cell as one of his "Best Books of the Year" in The Times Literary Supplement.[2] As a leading proponent of ID Meyer's book argues that naturalistic accounts of the origin of life face severe difficulties that only a designing intelligence can account for. While Nagel did not accept Meyer's conclusions he endorsed his approach to "this fiendishly difficult problem" of the origin of life. MissionNPOVible (talk) 07:28, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Added material from Signature in the Cell as it looks like that article is going to be deleted soon. See Talk:Signature in the Cell
Deleted sentence about Nagel being "a leading proponent" of Nagel's book. That's misleading and contradicted by the next sentence. It's also unsourced, and probably unsourceable. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 12:04, 17 August 2011 (UTC)


  1. ^ Nagel, T. (2008). Public education and intelligent design, Philosopy & Public Affairs, 36(2), 187-205. pg.196-7
  2. ^


Is there a better usable picture of him? On the picture that is currently on the page he looks kind of aggressive :/ -- (talk) 17:23, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

NPOV and citation issues[edit]

It looks to me like the above two issues are major in the section 'What it's like to be something'. The section reads like a sustained defence of his views, and has only one citation, which is to his own work. Can anyone suggest some opposing views with citations which would give a more balanced picture? I am not familiar enough with his work to do this. TonyClarke (talk) 10:47, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree that this is a problem. All the unsourced material, and OR, has to go. --Epeefleche (talk) 07:23, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Needs largely deleting[edit]

This is mostly an essay appreciating the work, not in any way substantiated. The entire section on Work has only one reference which is to Nagel's work and is the writer's comment. Others are just unsubstantiated opinion with weasel words such as "probably most widely known". The comments may be a good appreciation, but this is not encyclopedic. Most of it needs deleting. Chemical Engineer (talk) 16:57, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

I agree with the description of the article, even if not necessarily with your proposed solution. As it stands the article is in dire need of 3rd party assessments of his work. Is he influential? Or do most philosophers think he is a crack? Ignore him? Find it interesting but irrelevant? Ashmoo (talk) 12:34, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

Very impressed by your displays of your joint ignorance. For your information, professional philosophers across the globe view Thomas Nagel as one of the most influential of living philosophers. There are no Nobel Prizes for philosophy (did you know that? I guess not. Do you know what a Nobel Prize is?) but there equivalent honors and - guess what? They have been awarded to Thomas Nagel. Now go back to your comic books. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:27, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

Agreed. His "What is it like to be a bat" is a foundational text in the philosophy of subjectivity and consciousness.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:52, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

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Jennifer Nagel[edit]

Are they related? -- (talk) 08:42, 30 January 2016 (UTC)