We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In Mind and Cosmos, subtitled Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Nagel revives the concept of teleology on the basis of his conviction that the mind-body problem has more serious ramifications for evolutionary science than is ordinarily accepted. How does the electrochemical activity of neurons in the human brain produce subjective, first-person experience? Nobody knows. Nagel says that the appearance of conscious beings such as us can be described as the universe waking up. Yet to him it seems unlikely that life would ever have got started in the first place, somehow springing forth from ‘dead matter’; still more unlikely that some forms of life would have developed consciousness; and extremely improbable that one form of life would have acquired the ‘transcendent’ power of reason. In order to explain these events, Nagel suggests, you need more than simply the ‘mechanistic’ tools of the laws of physics, natural selection, and so on. You need not just physical theory but ‘psychophysical theory’. And you might even need teleology.
It’s a bold claim, but not in itself an unscientific one. Indeed, what Nagel’s critics rarely conceded was the fact that teleological talk remains rampant to this day in popular and even academic science writing. Vast subterranean seams of purposive metaphor imply a picture of final cause not only in modern biology but in chemistry and physics, too. It has long been accepted that ordinary descriptions of biological function, such as ‘The heart is for pumping blood’, are teleologically inflected shorthand. But we also commonly read, for example, that subatomic particles ‘know’ or ‘choose’ the ‘right’ path to take; that molecules rearrange themselves ‘in order to’ achieve a certain energy state; or that traits in organisms evolve ‘in order to’ allow the animal to do something new.
Our metaphors are teleological, our language and understanding is metaphorical. Where does it all end?
"And so we now accept, for example, that apparently solid objects are composed of atoms themselves largely made up of empty space, and that the Earth goes round the Sun and not vice-versa."
Now you see here a common misunderstanding of the science, parading as TRUTH. In fact, the correct statement is that the sun and the earth both go around their common center of mass. It so happens that the sun-earth COM lies inside the sun itself, but the proper dynamical point of view (ever since the days of Isaac Newton 3 centuries ago) is that the sun and earth each orbit the COM. Technically, it is just as wrong--or correct--to say that the earth orbits the sun as to claim the sun orbits the earth, because neither object is FIXED in space as such a simple claim implies.
There are all kinds of "science" parading as truth. In the end, there really isn't truth of any kind - just a different understanding and more knowledge of what we understand to be the truth today which will not be the truth tomorrow.