The book has been translated into Persian by Javad Heidari.
This book is based on Thomas Nagel’s “John Locke Lectures” delivered at Oxford early in 1990.
The conflict between the claims of the group and those of the individual is one of the most fundamental problems in moral and political theory.
Nagel attempts to clarify the nature of the conflict and to show that its reconciliation is the essential task of any legitimate political system.
Within each individual, Nagel believes, there is a division between two standpoints, the personal and the impersonal. Without the impersonal standpoint, Nagel says, there would be no morality, only the clash, compromise and occasional convergence of individual perspectives.
It is because a human being does not occupy only his own point of view that each one of us is susceptible to the claims of others through private and public morality. Political systems, to be legitimate, must achieve an integration of these two standpoints within the individual.
Nagel contends that the problem of designing institutions that accomplish this has not yet been solved. Communism, which exalted the `impersonal' value of equality has clearly failed, but the individualism of democratic capitalism has perpetuated morally unacceptable levels of economic and social inequality.
Nagel points to the problem of balancing equality and partiality as the most important issue with which political theorists are now faced.
Nagel is currently a university professor of philosophy and law emeritus at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics.
Nagel is well known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind, particularly in his essay “What Is it Like to Be a Bat?”, and for his contributions to deontological and liberal moral and political theory in “The Possibility of Altruism” and subsequent writings.
Continuing his critique of reductionism, he is the author of “Mind and Cosmos”, in which he argues against a reductionist view, and specifically the neo-Darwinian view, of the emergence of consciousness.