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University of Miami Mind Body Dilemma Essay


In his essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Thomas Nagel argues that we will never be able to fully explain conscious experience in reductive scientific terms. For example, even after scientists have developed a complete physical theory of the brain and sensory apparatus of a bat, we will still not be able to understand what the conscious experience of the bat is like. According to Nagel, this is because science can only offer objective descriptions of phenomena, whereas the conscious experience of the bat is an essentially subjective matter that can only be accessed from the bat’s own point of view.

Several different responses to Nagel’s argument are possible. One might disagree with Nagel’s conclusion that science can never explain conscious experience. Or one might agree with it, and take it as evidence that subjective experiences must be something over and above physical processes in the brain. That is, one could take Nagel’s argument as support for some version of dualism. Alternatively, one might disagree at this second step: perhaps subjective experience is an entirely physical process even though it is one that can never fully be explained by science. What is your response? Please write 500-600 words presenting and arguing for your point of view on what, if anything, Nagel’s argument tells us about the nature of the mind and its relation to the body


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