Descartes, Spinoza and Nagel

1st essay prompt: Non-Teleological Evolutionary Naturalism

  1. What is the cosmic question Nagel is interested in? State the question using a quote from Nagel and then explain the quote.
  2. What is non-teleological evolutionary naturalism? In what way does Nagel suggest we might try to fashion it into a response to the cosmic question?
  3. Why does Nagel think the answer provided by non-teleological naturalism will be ultimately unsatisfying?
  4. Is he right? Argue for a position.

2nd essay prompt: The Cosmic Question

How would Descartes respond to the cosmic question? Spinoza? Hurston? Christina? Connect each philosopher to a type of response identified by Nagel (either the religious response, the dismissive response, existential despair, existential defiance, humanism, non-teleological evolutionary naturalism, or teleological evolutionary naturalism). For each of these four thinkers, say (a) what, according to Nagel, characterizes the type of response they are most likely to give (in other words, define the response as we did in class), and (b) what about the views of the thinker in question suggests they might give that type of response (in other words, give specific details about the thinker’s view that align with that type of response).