Philosophy of Mind: Thomas Nagel - "What is it like to be a bat"

"What is it like to be a bat?" is an influential paper by the American philosopher, Thomas Nagel, first published in The Philosophical Review in October 1974, and later in Nagel's Mortal Questions (1979).

In it, Nagel argues that materialist theories of mind omit the essential component of consciousness, namely that there is something that it feels like to be a particular conscious thing. An organism has conscious mental states, he argues, "if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism."

Please read the essay prior to attending. The full text is available here:

http://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf

Here are some questions for our meeting (courtesy of Mr. Stephen H. Daniel  
Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University):

 

  • How does the essential subjectivity of consciousness make it logically impossible to know what it is like to be a bat?
  • Why can’t the “phenomenological” features of experience be explained in terms of a purely physical (e.g., functionalist) account?
  • How can an objective phenomenology of the structural features of experience provide an account of the subjective character of experience without reducing it to physical features?

 

 

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  • Goran

    Notes for our Sunday meeting have been posted to the Files section (More-Files)

    November 30, 2012

  • Goran

    As this seems to be a smaller meeting, we will meet at Jasmine Star, but downstairs instead of the 5th floor.

    November 25, 2012

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