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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Mind
Of all the problems that information philosophy may help to solve, few are more important than the question of Mind. There is little in philosophy that is more dehumanizing than the logic chopping and sophistical word juggling that denies the existence of Mind and Consciousness.

Some of the earliest philosophers saw immaterial Mind as the source of eternal Truths about Reality that could not be based on mere phenomena - unreliable sensations emanating from material bodies.

Descartes' dualism reduced the bodies of all animals to living machines, but left room for a non-­mechanistic, immaterial, and indeterministic Mind above and beyond the deterministic limits set by the laws of nature. Kant renamed the ancient division of sensible and intelligible worlds, locating God, freedom, and immortality in his noumenal world.

Information philosophy hopes to show that information is itself that immaterial “substance” above and beyond matter and energy that the ancients, Descartes, and Kant were looking for.

Mind as Immaterial Information in a Biological Information Processor
Information philosophy views the mind as the immaterial information in the brain. The brain is seen as a biological information processor. Mind is software in the brain’s hardware, although it is altogether different from the logic gates, bit storage, algorithms, computations, and input/output systems of the type of digital computer used as a "computational model of mind" by today's cognitive scientists.

The “stuff” of thought is pure information, neither matter nor energy, though it needs matter for its embodiment and energy for its communication. Information is the modern spirit, the soul in the body, the ghost in the machine.

In ancient philosophy, mind/soul versus body was one of the classic dualisms, such as idealism versus materialism, the problem of the one (monism) or the many (pluralism), the distinction between essence and existence, between universals and particulars, between necessity and contingency, between eternal and ephemeral, but most important, the difference between the intelligible world of the noumena and the ​sensible world of mere appearances or phenomena.

When mind and body are viewed today as a dualism, it is because the mind is considered to be fundamentally different from the material brain, though perhaps not another “substance.” We propose an easily understandable and critically important physical difference between matter and immaterial information. Whereas the total amount of matter is conserved, the universe is continuously creating new information - by rearranging existing matter into new information structures. The total amount of information (a kind of order) in the universe is increasing, despite the second law of thermodynamics, which - counterintuitively - says that the total amount of disorder (entropy) is also increasing.

Matter, along with energy (mc2), cannot increase. It is conserved, a constant of the universe. Information is not conserved. As information grows, it is the source of genuine novelty in the universe. The future is not determined by the past and present, because the future contains unpredictable new information. New information is continuously created.

If mind and matter then are to be considered part of a dualism, it will not be a "material substance" dualism, but it can still be a "physical substance" dualism, since mind and matter are both physical and "substantial," in the sense of having real causal power. We recognize that something immaterial with causal power also fits the description of metaphysical.

The Evolution of Information to Become Mind
How did material substances come to be able to think? Ancient philosophers assumed that mind and thought must be primordial, perhaps even prior to the creation of matter. But we can now outline the creation and evolution of information from an initial state of the universe (with minimal, essentially zero information and no material at all) to the “information age” of today. Information philosophy makes the straightforward claim that human beings, especially their minds, are the most highly evolved form of information generation and processing system in the known universe. Recognizing this simple fact provides a radically new perspective on the central problems of psychology and philosophy of mind.

In a very deep sense, we are information.

The story of evolution from a matter-free universe origin to the information-processing brain/mind can be told in three major emergences:

  1. the first appearance of matter, some of it organized into information structures,
  2. the first appearance of life, information structures that create and transmit information by natural selection, variation, and heredity,
  3. the appearance of human minds, which create, store, and transmit information external to their bodies.
With the appearance of life, purpose entered the universe. The fundamental purpose of all life is to survive, at least long enough to replicate. For most species, all of the information needed to survive is transmitted in the genes and the biological machinery of the cell. To benefit from the experiences of an ancestor, those experiences must somehow be encoded genetically, so they show up as a priori, built-in capabilities of the offspring. Konrad Lorenz said that what is a priori for an individual (ontogeny) was a posteriori for its ancestors (phylogeny).

The appearance of human minds marks the beginning of significant amounts of knowledge stored extra-biologically. Externally stored information (the "Sum") needed for human survival can be transmitted culturally between the generations. The development of the highest forms of philosophical and scientific thought would have been impossible without the externally stored information we call the Sum. Arguably, even language itself could not have developed. A child deprived of its senses for access to human culture would never speak. According to Merlin Donald, human culture did not develop because humans had acquired language to communicate. We developed language to improve on the primitive communication capabilities (miming, pointing, signing) of pre-linguistic humans.

Humans are conscious of our experiences because they are recorded in (and reproduced on demand from) the information structures in our brains. We call it the Experience Recorder and Reproducer (ERR). Mental information houses the content of an individual character - the fabric of values, desires, and reasons used to evaluate alternatives for action and thus to make choices. The information in a human brain vastly exceeds our genetic information. Because it can be stored and retrieved externally, it has allowed human beings to dominate the planet. Animals may exceed us in strength and speed, but we have experience, memory, wisdom, and skill (Anaxagoras DK B 21b) that has accumulated over thousands of generations.

Mind-body as a dualism coincides with Plato’s “Ideas” or “Forms” as pure form, with an ontology different from that of matter. The immaterial Forms, seen by the intellect (nous), allow us to understand the world. On the other hand, mind-body as a monism can picture both sides of the mind-body distinction as pure physicalism, since information embodied in matter corresponds simply to a reorganization of the matter. This was Aristotle’s more practical view. For him, Plato’s Ideas were mere abstractions generalized from many existent particulars. Form without matter is empty, matter without form is inconceivable, unimaginable. Kant rewrote this pre-Socratic observation somewhat obscurely as “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”

But there are other characteristic differences between the mental and the physical that modern science, even neuroscience, may never fully explain. The most important is the internal and private first-person point of view, the essential subjectivity, the “I” and the “eye” of the mind, its capability of introspection and reflection, its intentionality, its purposiveness, its consciousness. The mind records an individual’s experiences as internal information structures and then can play back these recordings to compare them to new perceptions, new external events. The recordings include an individual’s emotional reactions to past experiences, our feelings. The reproduction of recorded personal experiences, stimulated by similarities in current experience, provide the core of “what it’s like to be” an individual.

The external and public physical world, by contrast, is studied from the third-person point of view. Although putatively “objective,” science in fact is the composite “intersubjective” view of the “community of inquirers,” as Charles Sanders Peirce put it. Although this shared subjectivity can never directly experience what goes on in the mind of an individual member of the community, science is in some sense the collective mind of the physical world. It is a pale record of the world’s experiences, because it lacks the emotional aspect of personal experience. The physical world itself has no sense of its history. It does not introspect or reflect. It lacks consciousness, that problem in philosophy of mind second only to the basic mind-body problem itself. We see consciousness as based on a highly evolved Experience Recorder and Reproducer (ERR) that even the lowest organisms may have in the form of experiences recorded in their DNA .

Aristotle, in his Book III, Parts IV and V, of De Anima (On the Soul), perhaps the most controversial and confusing part of his entire corpus, says that the soul (psyche) or mind is immaterial. He was right. For Aristotle, Intellect (nous) is that part of the soul whose active thinking gives it a causal (aition) power (dynamis) over the material (hyle) body (soma). This claim appears to anticipate the mind-body problem of René Descartes - how exactly does an immaterial thing (substance) or property exert a causal force on the material body?

It is important to note that Descartes made the mind the locus of undetermined freedom. For him, the body is a deterministic mechanical system of tiny fibres causing movements in the brain (the afferent sensations), which then can pull on other fibres to activate the muscles (the efferent nerve impulses). This is the basis of stimulus and response theory in modern physiology (reflexology). It is also the basis behind connectionist theories of mind. An appropriate network need only connect the afferent to the efferent signals. No thinking mind is needed for animals (or computers where inputs completely determine outputs).

The popular idea of animals as machines included the notion that man too is in part a machine - the human body obeys strictly deterministic causal laws. But for Descartes man also has a soul or spirit that is exempt from determinism and thus from what is known today as “causal closure.” But how, we must ask, can the mind both cause something physical to happen and yet itself be acausal, exempt from causal chains? This is the problem of mental causation.

Since Immanuel Kant, this problem has become even more severe. The freedom in Kant’s noumenal world - outside space and time - has no apparent connection with the deterministic phenomenal world. For Kant, causality is a category of understanding applicable only to the phenomenal world. In the twentieth century, Gilbert Ryle called the concept of Mind a “category mistake.”

Information philosophy hopes to solve the mind/body problem, the problem of mental causation, the “hard problem” of consciousness, and the problem of other minds, not by postulating a non-physical world, but instead a world that answers to the ancient description of metaphysical, because it is non-material. This world is the locus of everything Aristotle included in his first philosophy, the laws of thought and today the laws of physics.

The world of information is abstract, not concrete, intangible, yet with causal power as Aristotle thought. The material world is made up in part of information structures. (We shall see that most of the matter in the universe is chaotic and contains little or no information.) Material information structures can be perceived and their abstract information content represented as information structures in the mind/brain. To the extent that the information in the mind is isomorphic with the information in the object, we can say that the subject has knowledge of the external world. To the extent that information in other minds is isomorphic, we have intersubjective shared knowledge, something impossible to show with words or even logic alone.

Information philosophy goes “beyond logic and language.”

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