See The Human Instinct (Simon & Schuster; Miller; 2018) for
“…the question asked by philosopher Thomas Nagel…”
Which question? It’s about what life is, to a bat. What a bat experiences as the consciousness thing or the life thing. For a bat: or something like that.
Wow, I am a poet. But who the hell is Thomas Nagel and why is he asking this question? Well the man is what you would call a “philosopher,” but in an academic sense. A “philosopher” in academia, in the academic life, not the “philo-” as it would have been in the day of, Say Socrates. This time, these days, “philososphy” is a profession and it reflects the thinking of a small academic group. This is a very particular, small set of individuals, about whom I really do not know that much, it is just I have a suspicion: that they support the dominant view of things, and thus they would probably support the dominant social structures. Gee, could that be? I would hate to say something fucking radical, but it allows me suggest one purpose of the academic genre of “philosophy” that exists for a society at this time — and on very high levels, apparently. And my simple idea here is that is to restrict the number of individuals who can access wealth. That way, only the correct or approved individuals can lay claim to resources.
But that is a basic elite function, and that is usually what anything is all about — isn’t it? This is nothing new. It is admissible to assume that “philosophers” support existing power structures. This may be distinguished from saying they support good philosophy. These are two distinct statements. I do not believe that they hold meetings outdoors, anyone in the neighborhood stopping by, which, I believe, is just precisely what Socrates did (1). Now, what did I get from that book by Miller? It is that Thomas Nagle is able to say, “conscious experience is widespread.” That threw me. How is he able to say that? Miller, the author of The Human Instinct says, using his elite status (a sentence, on p.155) writes: “Noting that conscious experience is widespread…he [i.e. Nagel] wrote [xxxx]…” Well, OK, I have grown on this. My thinking has developed and I am more accepting now than I was when first I wrote this “story.” (on Medium.com but, Why do they call it that? I just don’t know everything, I guess.) Maybe it is not a strange thing to say. What kind of sentence are we dealing with? (Well, it’s English…) Nagle noticed consciousness. He says consciousness is widespread, and then he notes the bat. He asks what it is like to be a bat! It makes sense in a way. The starting point (and main point) is the idea that a bat, as well as a human, has consciousness.
Or, I suspect Nagle thinks there is a very small set among the bourgeois have consciousness! What is good from their perspective — from their pinnacle? — is that the persons are acceptable to the dominant social elite.
There are actually a variety ways one may go at this problem of consciousness. What I am saying is —and here is where I really think it is really their elitism— I think the way the genre “philosophy books on consciousness” do it is only one of them, since there are other ways of going at the problem. Maybe a Buddhist way? But this group is so smug. I do understand what Nagle is asking better now. A lot better. I guess he is not totally stupid, although I still think I am right about the academic mileau he works in. It is really for elites, but no — they’d just never fucking admit that. So, I am doing better, then, than I did when first I attempted to gaze upon the face of the matter. Here is a little more: it’s mostly from the old version (story!).
It is only one very particular type of thought. Why do these persons seem to believe it is the only one? In order to be admitted into their August Company, one must think exactly like they do. In a different context, the requirement is that one be a particular skin color. Or else it can be ethnicity.
I have read “The Hard Problem,” p. 155–6. I find it to be bullshit.
This isn’t worth talking about. Nagel, the text declares, notes that conscious experience is widespread and occurs at many levels of animal life. I cannot figure out a sentence like that. Because: How can “consciousness” be an object? Of what? Isn’t it his consciousness that looks at consciousness? They never get that. It appears to me that for the academic philosophy department kinds of persons, human life is a forest of concepts such that only the elite should have power. A forest of concepts —yes, for “green” is mentioned. A forest of concepts that an intellectual elite should have power over? And, of course, they are the elite so it is subjective. Philosophy is for the elite , not niggers or spics. Or bats –or is Nagle on good terms with them? They are the elite: Nagle and his bat! Other kind of people will always be inferior. Other “races” are not invited to their high-class academic party. These persons, like Chalmers or Nagle, can go extinct for all I care! They should be like dinosaurs, go away. Pure arrogance! They are a bad lot. An inferior sort. Niggers in other words.
Or… Wow. Maybe I am being unfair. If I had my way, would I perhaps be making the same mistake? Would I turn out to be another Nagle? Horrors: making the same mistake I just criticized in them! Shame on me! Descent back to the bat cave? That could be me. So, I am thinking like this. OK. They have a right to their peculiar white man’s thinking, or bat thinking, since Nagle is so open-minded to include bats. But so should others be. We don’t have bat voices — they are animals — but there are other ways of thinking, like in Buddhism. Ways the books never consider. It isn’t white philosophy. So I think it is very dangerous not to recognize that Western universities have peculiarly Western, or white values. What is wrong with saying it? Why claim anything more? Let Africans have African philosophy. We should all have that right to our view — obviously. And there are plenty of styles out there: non-Western, and also there are other types, even within the West. What about the persons not articulate enough to say? They too have intelligent views. Shit. And these are only a few. All kinds of things, and humans.
But that would mean opening up on an impossible level and it is idealistic, because just considering everything would involve us with excessiveness — too much variety. That option thus means we refute culture; because you’d be putting everything into one big bag. That is not possible. We know that each human beings live in culture, and that means human lives have up, until now, always been found embedded in a cultural system. But one cannot have all the cultural systems at once, so this is my dilemma.
And so, here is a solution. If opening it up to everyone is idealistic, the solution is discipline. It “must be” (as I see it) something between those two extremes I cover above, which are those of a narrow, self-seeking elite on the one hand, or simple everythingness on the other. I guess this is my view, then. (Despite the fact that both “excessiveness” and “everythingness” don’t exist.)
Everyone needs to be united by some particular, just not that of the obnoxious academic, mainstream WASP. So: we require both: a diverse world, and a disciplined one. There needs to be an overall system. A particular culture (or economy) has a system. The system now in use in the West, as seen in these pathetic “consciousness” books (since I don’t like them), needs an overhaul. I certainly do not want to go on the Taliban system. I certainly do not want to go on the white supremacy system. And I don’t want to be on the academic philosopher-snob system. Naw: I cannot stand those snobs! Which means I probably AM one… but no, I just cannot admit it!
NOTE: (1) Of course, there is more to be said about this, but we aren’t going to get into it.