Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel

Moral philosophers don’t often get prizes for the lucidity of their writing. Many have a deplorable writing style. Difficulty in comprehension does not equal profundity of meaning, however.

Every now and again a philosophy book comes along that shows the lie, and stands out for its clarity, directness, and accessibility. Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel ( is one. Nagel introduces the reader to those critical questions around the nature and value of human life. He tackles death, sexual behaviour, social inequality, war and political power. These, in turn, are shown to lead to more obviously philosophical problems about personal identity, consciousness, freedom, and value.

Mortal Questions sold widely among the general reading public and was widely prescribed on University reading lists. The book’s success is explained because it asks what should be personally important to people in matters of life and death, as well as explaining the theoretical hinterland to these concerns. See if Nagel can get your own reflective juices flowing.

Check if this excellent introduction to moral philosophy is in stock at your local library.

230 pages in Cambridge University Press

First published 1979

ISBN 978-0521223607

Image result for thomas nagel

Professor Thomas Nagel

Scroll to Top