Here, it is presupposed that the reader has some understanding of the distinction between continental philosophy and analytic, that continental philosophy has a place in conclusions for some kind of unknown force in Nature and analytic philosophy is more secular.
Nagel states that continental philosophy is better accepted by the general public because it does not take on the analytic approach of providing an alternative to the consolation of religion. To the general public it may seem blasphemy to try and give reasonable truth behind existence without a place or the purposefulness of Gods interaction. When people have interaction with the thought of God they feel at ease with their spiritual connection of being. The technicality within analytic approach needs much research to deduce and is too difficult for the general public to receive the full message within them and not get too hung up on their means of reaching their conclusions.
Nagel states that those of the analytic approach are those that chose the route of secular philosophy within their analytic fail to “acknowledge the significant element of yearning for cosmic reconciliation”. He states philosophers have had the impulse to include this attachment to the cosmos, but it isn’t just philosophers that feel a need for this impulse. Philosophers have this impulse because they are aware of the yearning for an answer to human attachment involvement within the cosmos by the general public, and God has been that connection for as long as man could fathom the conception of universal connection.
Nagel brings up Plato and his want to explain connection to his soul and its “relation to the universe at the deepest level”. Now, this at the deepest level notion really pops out at me. Some might think why does someone have to think humans have a connection with the universe at the deepest level? But, as to oppose that person, I would bring up the notion that I can imagine such connection, that I can imagine having such relation to the universe in the deepest dwellings of my very being through my human ability to see past the physical construct imposed on me by the physical world and look deep within my sense of knowledge and understanding of what is and what could be to realizing that such a connection to the universe may be possible. My ability to realize that this may be possible fills me with such overwhelming passion that I am unable to completely doubt the possibility of this connection. We notice this overwhelming passion and slowly over time we try to give explanations to it as best we can. I believe this to be the true cause behind what Nagel calls religious temperament.
Since so far religion has been one of the only ways to answer the questions these religious temperaments bring about, Nagel looks for a way to answer them in a secular manner. He states that if you view yourself and the world the way it is intended by the religious standpoint then you do not live merely a human life but a life in the sight of God. But, then you answer the question of why you are and what you’re doing here, which is a question that is almost impossible for a well knowledged human being not to ask themselves. The question of which Nagel seeks to answer is the relation of individual human life to the universe as a whole. Religion states that we are spiritual essence of the universe but Nagel aims to answer the question with no religious response. However ridiculously enormous I believe Nagel’s original question to be, I believe his second question of “Is there a way to live in harmony with the universe and not just a part of it”, to be quite a bigger question. However similar they might be in the sense that they describe the relation of the essence of man and the universe, the second asks how we can live as the universe, without living.
I agree with Nagel’s remark that it is unclear of how we can aspire to this harmony without the notion of a God. Nagel speaks again of religious temperaments and again I find that religious temperaments are, at least to a well knowledged individual, almost impossible to not have. Nagel says that having come out of existence we are a part of existence itself, and naturally I want to understand the essence of existence to better understand the essence of myself. Again I find myself having to agree with Nagel on the fact that religious temperaments find the human life very insufficient due to our failure of consciousness. This very concept does in fact leave me outraged because existence is such a vast, unimaginably vast concept, and in it was made such a creature as a human being with the ability to understand such enormity but no way of ever quenching the inner need that seems so innate to fully understand my own sense of being that seems so “insufficient” to such an incredible thing of which I derive. It is indeed maddening.