University Professor, New York University
As if to signal that he does not take up small questions, Thomas Nagel titled his 1987 introduction to philosophy What Does It All Mean? That kind of ambition is typical of one of the most vibrant philosophers writing today, whose range includes political philosophy, ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. In a field whose practitioners struggle to link their work to the lives of ordinary people, Nagel tackles real-world problems as varied as justice, politics, and taxes, writing about them in accessible prose. He still finds time to contribute to the discussion of issues favored by professional philosophers, such as the nature of consciousness and what it's like to be a bat.
Nagel studied at Cornell University, the University of Oxford, and took his Ph.D. at Harvard. Today he is Professor of Philosophy and Law and University Professor at New York University. His books include The Possibility of Altruism, The View from Nowhere, Equality and Partiality, Other Minds, and Concealment and Exposure. He writes frequently for The New York Review of Books and many other journals and magazines. In a recent review, Marek Pyka of Cracow University of Technology praised Nagel as one of the most interesting American philosophers of recent decades and added, "He has managed to accomplish a rare thing: to write on the deepest philosophical problems in a simple way."
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