Thomas Nagel - How Is It Like to Be a Bat? Essays

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Thomas Nagel (1981) – How is it like to be a bat? Why does "consciousness" make the mind-body problem really intractable according to Thomas Nagel? In his text “What is it like to be a bat?” of 1974 Thomas Nagel claims that consciousness is the barrier that makes the mind-body problem unique and so hard. He states that consciousness is rarely addressed by reductionists. Because there is no really persuading reduction available, implausible accounts of the mental have been developed to help explain familiar kind of reductions. This has led to reductionists ignoring consciousness. But according to Nagel the mind-body problem is boring without consciousness. Nagel now turns to conscious experience. He finds that some animals and…show more content…
Maybe we will never understand it, but denying the problem is wrong. Nagel explores how it is by all means possible to imagine that there are things humans may never be able to understand. He then returns to the problem: facts about what it is to be some organism appear to embody a particular point of view. Here Nagel states that he is not proclaiming total privacy of experience. Some objectivity is indeed possible. Adopting other points of view is part of our daily life, but this is only possible for organism that bear enough similarity. Similarity, though, is just a measurable degree, in case of organisms never reaching 100 percent. Here Nagel sees a direct impact on the mind-body problem: Accessing these facts about what it is to be some organism that stick to a point of view with objective physics seems to be impossible. This is not an argument against reduction itself. Many things allow objective comprehension, to a certain degree, that is. But in the case of experience, one thing will always fail: you cannot remove the viewpoint from subjective experience. The problem of psychological reduction is therefore formulated as follows: Where other kinds of reduction always lead to greater objectivity, a reduction of experience that moves the focus away from subjectivity is doomed to fail. In its history, the main task of reductionism has always consisted of leaving out the subjective point of view. But for the internal

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