Mind and Life: Is the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature False?

Biological Theory 11 (1):25-38 (2016)
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partial review of Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False is used to articulate some systems-theoretic ideas about the challenge of understanding subjective experience. The article accepts Nagel’s view that reductionist materialism fails as an approach to this challenge, but argues that seeking an explanation of mind based on emergence is more plausible than seeking one based on pan-psychism, which Nagel favors. However, the article proposes something similar to Nagel’s neutral monism by positing a hierarchy of information processes that spans the domains of matter, life, and mind. As depicted in this hierarchy, subjective experience is emergent, but also continuous with informational phenomena at lower levels.

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Martin Zwick
Portland State University


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