Book Review on “What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy” by Thomas Nagel
Consciousness is the main theme for philosophy throughout its existence. At present, this theme has become one of the main objects for scientific research. This is due to the progress of scientific knowledge, which currently has sufficient resources to begin work in this direction. In connection with this, modern philosophy willingly goes to a dialogue with science in the study of consciousness, its nature and functions, while leaving the right to raise fundamental questions about consciousness within the context of reality. This symbiosis of science and philosophy is the most obvious in the modern philosophy of consciousness, which actively uses the data of science in the creation of its conceptual systems. Science, in turn, actively uses the results of the work of philosophers -cognitivists, who actively participate in the discussion of those solutions that are offered by philosophers-analysts. Therefore, the paper stands for the fact that objective knowledge on consciousness can be partially helpful in understanding the essential philosophical problems as the subjective knowledge should be either incorporated in the issues’ solution.
The book “What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy” by Thomas Nagel is actually the briefest introduction to philosophy from those, which ever existed being based on the issue of consciousness. However, brevity herein is a sign of the ability to speak on the merits. Some introductions to philosophy try to give a concise history of philosophical teachings. Nagel decided to choose a different way. The author does not name any philosophers in the book and concentrates exclusively on philosophical problems. In other words, philosophy is depersonalized in the work by Nagel. This approach is not devoid of grace. After all, the passion for biographies enlivens the material, but it threatens to lead away from the essence of the matter. This approach can be explained by the fact that the famous names have suggestive power due to the fact that they provide theories with additional persuasiveness. Nagel simply talks about the key issues of philosophy (15). Certainly, the book does not include all the aspects of philosophy, but still it pays much attention to the connection between consciousness and philosophy. The author is interested in the most difficult problems, such as the problem of the connection of consciousness and body, the issue of the cognizability of the world, the aspects of free will, etc. (Nagel 25).
One of the strongest points of the book is that the author applies the multi-approach method. Nagel tries to set out different approaches to solving the issues in the most impartial manner. The author generally does not express his position, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. This also serves as an advantage. Certainly, critically evaluating the book, it is not always possible to maintain impartiality (moreover, precisely, where it would be better to remain silent). It is symptomatic that Nagel concludes the book on philosophical searches …