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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
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
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
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
Heraclitus
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
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
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
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
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
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
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
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
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
 
Quantum Physics and Information Philosophy
Problems in Quantum Physics
The Connection to Information Philosophy
Without the indeterministic "collapse" of the wave function, no new information could ever be created in the universe.

The Schrödinger equation that describes the time evolution of the wave function is linear, continuous, time-reversible, and deterministic. It describes the possible locations, energy eigenvalues, and other observable quantities for a quantum system.

However, the "collapse" process that actualizes one of those possibilities is not describable by any such equation. It is discontinuous, irreversible, and indeterministic, involving ontological chance, as first clearly seen by Albert Einstein in 1916. Ernest Rutherford saw that the time of radioactive nuclear decay is random in 1902, and he insightfully asked Niels Bohr in 1913 "How does the electron know which of your orbits to jump to?" Bohr could not say. But it was Einstein who first saw that the time and the directions of matter and light particles are fundamentally random when light and matter interact. He called it a "weakness in the theory."

Properly understanding quantum physics is thus central to understanding information philosophy. While this will present a challenge for some philosophers, especially those philosophers of science who have spent their careers challenging the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics, our goal is to provide vivid explanations of standard quantum mechanics, and the dozen or so problems above, with new illustrative diagrams and animations for the canonical experiments.

In a deterministic world there is only one possible future. The information in such a world is constant (conserved like matter and energy).

As Claude Shannon proved in his Theory of the Communication of Information, there must be alternative possibilities for new information to be generated. If there are two possibilities, an experiment (or a message) yields one bit of information. If four possibilities, two bits, etc. Since there is just one possible future in a deterministic universe, no new information is created. Many philosophers and physicists think that information is a conserved quantity.

The Information Philosopher proposes to show that everything created since the origin of the universe over thirteen billion years ago has involved just two fundamental physical processes that combine to form the core of all creative processes. These two steps occur whenever even a single bit of new information is created and comes into the universe.

  • Step 1: A quantum process - the "collapse of a wave function."

    The formation of even a single bit of information that did not previously exist requires the equivalent of a "measurement." This "measurement" does not involve a "measurer," an experimenter or observer. It happens when the probabilistic wave function that describes the possible outcomes of a measurement "collapses" and a matter or energy particle is actually found somewhere.

  • Step 2: A thermodynamic process - local reduction, but cosmic increase, in the entropy.

    The second law of thermodynamics requires that the overall cosmic entropy always increases. When new information is created locally in step 1, some energy (with positive entropy greater than the negative entropy of the new information) must be transferred away from the location of the new bits or they will be destroyed, if local thermodynamical equilibrium is restored. This can only happen in a locality where flows of matter and energy with low entropy are passing through, keeping it far from equilibrium.

This two-step core creative process underlies the formation of microscopic objects like atoms and molecules, as well as macroscopic objects like galaxies, stars, and planets.

With the emergence of teleonomic (purposive) information in self-replicating systems, the same core process underlies all biological creation. But now some random changes in information structures are rejected by natural selection, while others reproduce successfully.

Finally, with the emergence of self-aware organisms and the creation of extra-biological information stored in the environment, the same information-generating core process underlies communication, consciousness, free will, and creativity.

The two physical processes in the creative process, quantum physics and thermodynamics, are somewhat daunting subjects for philosophers, and even for many scientists.

Quantum mechanics and thermodynamics are at the core of all creation
By creation we mean the emergence or coming into existence of recognizable information structures from a prior chaotic state in which there is no recognizable order or information.

Note there are three distinct kinds of information emergence:

  1. the order out of chaos when the matter in the universe forms information structures
  2. the order out of order when the material information structures form self-replicating biological information structures
  3. the immaterial information out of order when organisms with minds externalize information, communicating it to other minds and storing it in the environment

By information we mean a quantity that can be understood mathematically and physically. It corresponds to the common-sense meaning of information, in the sense of communicating or informing. It also corresponds to the information stored in books and computers. But it also measures the information in any physical object, like a recipe, blueprint, or production process, and the information in biological systems, including the genetic code and the cell structures.

Ultimately, the information we mean is the departure of a physical system from pure chaos, from "thermodynamic equilibrium." In equilibrium, there is only motion of the microscopic constituent particles ("the motion we call heat"). The existence of macroscopic structures, such as the stars and planets, and their motions, is a departure from thermodynamic equilibrium.

Information is mathematically related to the measure of disorder known as the entropy by Ludwig Boltzmann's famous formula S = k log W, where S is the entropy and W is the probability - the number of ways (or microstates) that the internal components (the matter and energy particles of the system) can be rearranged and still be the same system (in a particular observable macrostate).

The second law of thermodynamics says that the entropy (or disorder) of a closed physical system increases until it reaches a maximum, the state of thermodynamic equilibrium. It requires that the entropy of the universe is now and has always been increasing.

This established fact of increasing entropy led many scientists and philosophers to assume that the universe we have is "running down" to a "heat death." They think that means the universe began in a very high state of information, since the second law requires that any organization or order is susceptible to decay. The information that remains today, in their view, has always been here. There is nothing new under the sun.

But the universe is not a closed system. It is in a dynamic state of expansion that is moving away from thermodynamic equilibrium faster than entropic processes can keep up. The maximum possible entropy is increasing much faster than the actual increase in entropy. The difference between the maximum possible entropy and the actual entropy is potential information, as shown by David Layzer.

Creation of information structures means that in parts of the universe the local entropy is actually going down. Creation of a low entropy system is always accompanied by radiation of entropy away from the local structures to distant parts of the universe, into the night sky for example.

Information increases and we are co-creators of the universe

Creation of information structures means that today there is more information in the universe than at any earlier time. This fact of increasing information fits well with an undetermined universe that is still creating itself. In this universe, stars are still forming, biological systems are creating new species, and intelligent human beings are co-creators of the world we live in.

All this creation is the result of the one core creative process. Understanding this process is as close as we are likely to come to understanding the idea of an anthropomorphic creator of the universe, a still-present divine providence, the cosmic source of everything good and evil.

We will look next at the physics of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics in the creative process, then at information theory, on which we construct our information philosophy.

For Teachers
For Scholars

Part Six - Chance Part Eight - Afterword
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