Citation for this page in APA citation style.           Close


Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
Michael Burke
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
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
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
Sam Harris
William Hasker
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
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
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Alasdair MacIntyre
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
Thomas Nagel
Otto Neurath
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
Huw Price
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
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
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf


Michael Arbib
Walter Baade
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
Richard Dawkins
Terrence Deacon
Lüder Deecke
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
Philipp Frank
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Donald Hebb
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
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
John McCarthy
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Abraham Pais
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
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
Max Tegmark
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Vlatko Vedral
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
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky


Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
Ontology asks the question “what is there?”

Eliminative materialism claims that nothing exists but material particles, which makes many problems in ancient and modern philosophy difficult if not insoluble. To be sure, we are made of the same material as the ancients. With every breath we take, we inspire 10 or 20 of the fixed number of molecules of air that sustained Aristotle. We can calculate this because the material in the universe is a constant, conserved quantity.

But information is not a fixed quantity. The stuff of thought and creativity, information has been increasing since the beginning of the universe. It is also the question of ontology. What exists in the world? Ontology is intimately connected with epistemology - how can we know what exist in the world?

The ontological status of abstract concepts is a completely different question from the ontology of concrete physical objects, though these questions have often been confounded in the history of philosophy.

Information philosophy provides distinct answers to these two ontological questions. Physical objects are pure material or particles of energy that exist in the world of space and time. Abstract concepts (like redness) are pure information, neither matter nor energy, although they need matter for their embodiment and energy for their communication. For example, the abstract idea of two is embodied in two objects. The idea of a circle is embodied in a round object. Redness is embodied in the red photons being emitted or reflected from an object. The arrangement of material objects, whether continuous matter like the wood in a table top, or the momentary position of billiard balls, is pure information.

The ancients sometimes said that these abstract concepts do not “exist,” but rather are said to “subsist.” Information philosophy claims that the “form” of an object can not be separated from the matter and so deserves to be ontological.

The contrast between physical objects and abstract concepts can be illustrated by the difference between invention and discovery.

We discover physical objects through our perceptions of them. To be sure, we invent our ideas about these objects, their descriptions, their names, theories of how they are structured and how they interact energetically - with one another and with us. But we cannot arbitrarily invent the natural world. We must test our theories with experiment. The experimental results select those theories that best fit the data, the information coming to us from the world. This makes our knowledge of an independent external world scientific knowledge.

By contrast, we humans invent many abstract concepts such as the names we give to objects. We know that these cultural constructs do not exist somewhere in nature as physical structures before we create them. Cultural knowledge is relative to and dependent on the society that creates it.

However, some of our invented abstract concepts seem to clearly have an existence that is independent of us, like the numbers and the force of gravity.

Consider the shape of a given object. The abstract representation of the shape in the mind, or in a computer model, is (quantitatively) much less information than the total information in the shape of the physical object.

But when the representation is accurate, it is isomorphic with a proper subset of the information in the object itself. We can assert that at least the same information is in the world and should be included in our ontology.

The “axiom of independent reality” claims that “Knowledge unconditionally presupposes that the reality known exists independently of the knowledge of it, and that we know it as it exists in this independence.” (H. A. Prichard.)

The British empiricists John Locke and David Hume argued that what we are “given” in our perceptions of sense data is limited to so-called “secondary qualities.” These are properties that produce the sensations in the observer’s senses - color, taste, smell, sound, and touch. Knowledge that comes from secondary qualities does not provide objective facts about things “in themselves.”

Immanuel Kant described these secondary qualities as “phenomena” that could tell us nothing about the “noumena,” which the empiricists called the “primary qualities.” These are properties the objects have that are independent of any observer, such as solidity, extension, motion, number and figure. These qualities exist in the thing itself (Kant’s “Ding an sich”). Kant thought that some of these qualities can be determined with certainty, as “synthetic a priori” truths. Some of these qualities are analytic truths, defined by the logical meanings of linguistic terms. For example, a round circle cannot be a square.

But information philosophy can claim that extension and figure, for example, are both in the object and in our information representation.

For Teachers
For Scholars

Chapter 5.1 - The Arrow of Time Chapter 5.3 - Evil (Theodicy)
Part Four - Freedom Part Six - Solutions
Normal | Teacher | Scholar