Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008

Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008

Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008

Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008

Synopsis

This volume collects recent essays and reviews by Thomas Nagel in three subject areas. The first section, including the title essay, is concerned with religious belief and some of the philosophical questions connected with it, such as the relation between religion and evolutionary theory, the question of why there is something rather than nothing, and the significance for human life of our place in the cosmos. It includes a defense of the relevance of religion to science education. The second section concerns the interpretation of liberal political theory, especially in an international context. A substantial essay argues that the principles of distributive justice that apply within individual nation-states do not apply to the world as a whole. The third section discusses the distinctive contributions of four philosophers to our understanding of what it is to be human--the form of human consciousness and the source of human values.

Excerpt

Over the past few years, I have been occupied mainly with thoughts about the relation between science and religion, and also secondarily with the interpretation of liberal conceptions of justice and their application to the world as a whole. the first two sections of this collection of essays and reviews correspond roughly to those interests. the third section contains reflections on four admired philosophers, all with a pronounced absorption in the human world. I have revised all the essays slightly.

The material in the first section is preliminary. I hope to pursue the topic, and its larger philosophical implications, more systematically in the future. I am resistant to the broad acceptance of scientific naturalism as a comprehensive world view. Theism is one form that such resistance can take, but I believe that there must be secular alternatives.

—New York, February, 2009 . . .

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