What does it all mean by Nagel is often referred to as the little book of philosophy amongst critics. This is because the book gives the reader a compact overview of all the fundamental constituents of philosophy such as the dualism of the mind and the body and more complex topics such as the meaning of the existence of man and his consciousness. The attribute that differentiates Nagel’s work from other works on introductions to philosophy and its content is that Nagel uses language that welcomes the new student of philosophy in to the subject. We see this book as one that allows the layman to acquire a basic knowledge of what to expect in further studies into philosophy (Nagel, 1987).
The introductory chapter allows for a gentle entrance into the world of philosophy and welcomes the reader to the nature of questions that are to follow in the study of philosophy. In “How Do We Know Anything?” the second chapter, Nagel states that the world around us is the reality because we can study it and substantiate it, and similarly all the constituents of the world and all the theories are true only if they can be studied and substantiated for their content. In the third chapter “Other Minds”, Nagel is of the opinion that if one person finds a particular external stimulus pleasant, it is not reasonable to conclude that the next person receives the stimulus with the same interest since the only way for the first person to have come to a conclusion regarding the stimulus is through experiencing it In Chapter 4, ‘The Mind-Body Problem’, Nagel presents to the reader the direct union between the mind and the human consciousness and concludes that in order for consciousness to experience an event, the brain has to receive a stimulus. In Chapter 5, Nagel talks about the perceptions of the words we use and the names we give to the elements of the world around us and if the words we use are truly of any significance or not. In Chapter 6, Nagel argues upon the free will that we exercise and whether or not our will actually is independent and if it is of any actual significance. In Chapter 7, ‘Right and Wrong’, Nagel criticizes the definitions of right and wrong that man uses to manage the day to day activities of his life and questions the legitimacy of those definitions. In Chapter 8, ‘Justice’, Nagel argues upon the justice and inequality of the universe that man dwells in that is beyond the control of man himself. He argues whether it is correct to oppose the occurrence of events of such uncontrollable nature. Chapter 9 discusses the bleakness of Death and the perception that we have for it and the question of it really being that we believe it to be. In Chapter 10, ‘The Meaning of Life, Nagel hits on a chord that is the most sought after in all segments of society. Nagel argues over the reality of the meaning, existence and expectation of life.
Nagel uses his trademark method of writing that inspires inquisition in the minds of the reader and allows the reader an opportunity to get a taste of the levels of realization that the subject has to offer and does so without confusing the reader through jargon.