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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 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
Lawrence Cahoone
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
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
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
Walter Kaufmann
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Thomas Kuhn
Andrea Lavazza
Christoph Lehner
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Jules Lequyer
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
Otto Neurath
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
C.F. von Weizsäcker
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Walter Baade
Bernard Baars
Jeffrey Bada
Leslie Ballentine
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Mara Beller
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
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
Jerry Coyne
John Cramer
Francis Crick
E. P. Culverwell
Antonio Damasio
Olivier Darrigol
Charles Darwin
Richard Dawkins
Terrence Deacon
Lüder Deecke
Richard Dedekind
Louis de Broglie
Stanislas Dehaene
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Gerald Edelman
Paul Ehrenfest
Manfred Eigen
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
David Foster
Joseph Fourier
Philipp Frank
Steven Frautschi
Edward Fredkin
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A. O. Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Dirk ter Haar
Jacques Hadamard
Mark Hadley
Patrick Haggard
J. B. S. Haldane
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Ralph Hartley
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
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Gilbert Lewis
Benjamin Libet
David Lindley
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
George Miller
Stanley Miller
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Alexander Oparin
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
Henry Quastler
Adolphe Quételet
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Lee Smolin
Ray Solomonoff
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
Max Tegmark
Libb Thims
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Giulio Tononi
Peter Tse
Francisco Varela
Vlatko Vedral
Mikhail Volkenstein
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
Stephen Wolfram
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
David Foster
David Foster says he spent 15 years searching for religious truth in the mystical philosophy of George Gurdjieff. Then in the early 1950's he switched to looking for God in some new interpretations of modern science.

In his 1985 book The Philosophical Scientists, Foster chose as "philosophical scientists," Arthur Stanley Eddington, James Jeans, Bertrand Russell, and Alfred North Whitehead (Foster called them "The 1930 Cambridge Club").

Cambridge University has made outstanding contributions — typically the discovery of the electron and the splitting of the nucleus which eventually led to atomic energy. But it was also noteworthy for linguistic philosophy and the analysis of the meaning of statements. These four men did not comprise a school since they did not appear to have a common objective, but they knew each other and influenced each other and so might be called a club. I call it ‘the 1930 Cambridge Club’ because it was responsible for philosophical ideas relevant to the New Physics and because it peaked about the year 1930.
The Philosophical Scientists, , p.2

To his Cambridge Club, Foster adds Erwin Schrödinger's great books, What Is Life? and Mind and Matter.

Foster combines original ideas from these five to refute Darwinian evolution and discover a God that has programmed the DNA in all living things, sending the information content via electromagnetic radiations from the Sun to Earth.

Foster starts with Eddington's The Nature of the Physical World (the 1927 Gifford Lectures). He takes two major ideas from Eddington. 1) The stuff of the world is mind-stuff. 2) The law of entropy is different from all other physical laws.

From Jeans he takes the idea that "the universe is the thought of a mathematical thinker."

Using Russell's identification of logic with mathematics, Foster adds the fact that modern computers are logical machines to conclude we can understand Eddington's mind-stuff as software and Jeans' mathematical thinker as God programming the machine.

Foster finds Whitehead's emphasis on all life as mechanisms arranged in a hierarchy with consciousness at the top. For Whitehead, that was God overseeing and maintaining the continuity of creation.

Finally, Foster sees Schrödinger as supporting Whitehead. Although Schrödinger sees his consciousness as controlling the motions of his atoms, in the Eastern thought admired by Schrödinger individual consciousnesses blend into a single cosmic consciousness.

1. My body functions as a pure mechanism according to the Laws of Nature.

2. Yet I know, by incontrovertible direct experience, that I am directing its motions. . . . The only possible inference from these two facts is, I think, that I — I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that has ever said or felt ‘I’ — am the person, if any, who controls the ‘motion of the atoms’ according to the Laws of Nature.

ibid, p.25
Like Eddington, Jeans, and Whitehead (though not the atheist Russell), Foster hoped to discover "cosmic intelligence (GOD)" in the form of Eddington's "mind-stuff."

He writes...

Would Whitehead have agreed that ‘The Stuff of the World is Mind-Stuff’?

We come back to the point whether Whitehead could have agreed with Eddington and Jeans that ‘the stuff of the world is mind- stuff’. I think so through the sequence of derivations from Whitehead:

1. Reality is organism, that system of distinct entities whose mutual conditioning creates a whole which is more than the sum of the parts.

2. The model for organism is combination mathematics.

3. Combination mathematics is equally the model for literacy and meanings whose ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts’.

Thus the essence of both Eddington-Jeans and of Whitehead is the reality of literacy, the art of linguistic combination arrangements. Overall I think the conclusion from the 1930 Cambridge Club is

‘Reality is organised mind-stuff.’

ibid, p.31

Foster identified "mind-stuff" with the nineteenth-century idea of an "ether." Foster called it "the medium for the transmission of radiations such as light and radio, which are information mind-stuff." Radio broadcast transmissions do contain information, but solar radiation contains very little, since it is close to "blackbody radiation" in thermal equilibrium at some temperature.

Foster hopes that solar radiation in providing all the information in the DNA of humans and all living things.

God as programmer From the cybernetic analysis we need a cosmic Programmer function, and since this is the highest level of a cybernetic system, then it appears justified to equate this to God. The chief significance of a programmer is that he is free in at least two respects:

To programme or not to programme

To programme selectively according to conscious choice.

This freedom can be described as pure intelligence. If we wish. to know ‘where’ God, is, I have suggested elsewhere that this is the Void — omniscient, omnipresent, invisible mind-stuff. The analogy with ourselves would be a state of lucid consciousness and capacity for thought.

‘Logos’ as programme

God as programmer writes the programme and this is LOGOS (the Word). LOGOS is the interface between God and nature. Thus LOGOS is the programme or specification for all manifestations from the cosmic constants to the DNA. It is the interface of specified specificity. As to just ‘where’ LOGOS might be, we look for a place from which LOGOS can irradiate nature, and this would seem to be stars in general and (in our own case) the Sun.

ibid, pp. 178-9

Beyond his ideas of a "supernatural science," Foster claimed to have discovered a philosophical paradox that opposes entropy with what he calls "specificity." These ideas are worth quoting at length.

THERMODYNAMICS — THE WORLD OF ACCIDENT STATISTICS

In the first place I would make it clear that I shall not attempt to disprove the Second Law of Thermodynamics. As Sir Arthur Eddington stated:

The law that entropy always increases — the Second Law of Thermodynamics — holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. . . . But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
The Nature of the Physical World, p. 81.

What is entropy?

Entropy is the measure of the extent to which a system has come into a certain state under random (‘accidental’) forces. The simplest analogue is that of a pack of playing cards which were originally arranged in their four suits and sequences. If we now shuffle the cards then we increase their entropy, their state of random disorder, until they come into a state where no further shuffling can increase the random disorder, in which case we have reached maximum entropy. Two matters should be noted:

1. Entropy can be reduced by conscious sorting. We can lay the cards out on the table and collect them back into their original suits and sequences. Clerk Maxwell was the first to point out this possibility that ‘a conscious sorting demon’ can reduce entropy and reverse the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

2. The shuffling of the card pack essentially takes place in a state of ‘absent-mindedness’, i.e. the mental opposite of the conscious sorting of (1) above.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a generalisation of such concepts about entropy and can be stated:

If a closed system is in a configuration that is not the equilibrium configuration, the most probable consequence is that the entropy of the system will increase with time.

Put another way, if one had a half-shuffled pack of cards, then time provides further shuffling to increase the entropy or randomness. The law refers to thermodynamics because it is mainly applied to the motion of atoms in gases under the influence of heat, but it is equally applicable to the state of order in any system including pure information systems (which is what a pack of cards is).

The philosophical significance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

The great philosophical significance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is that it can be equated to the direction of time as from past to future. A system of entities left to itself but capable of inner accidental collisions (i.e. shuffling) will increase its entropy with the passage of clock-time.

The derivation from this is that if we consider the universe to be a similar system of separate entities such as atoms, and if these atoms can collide with each other as shuffling, then the entropy of the universal system is increasing with time and the universe is moving in the direction of increasing disorder, i.e. the universe is running down with the passage of time. Indeed, the chapter from Eddington’s book from which I extracted the quotation at the beginning of this chapter is headed ‘The Running Down of the Universe’.

The philosophical paradox

Thus we here encounter the germs of a Paradox which will feature largely in this book:

1. If the universe is a system of blind chance with accidental collisions (‘shufflings’), then entropy is increasing with time and the universe is running down to effective extinction.

2. To set against this we have the concept that ‘the stuff of the world is mind-stuff’ and thus there could be an aspect which is not blind chance and accidental and so the universe could be sorting rather than shuffling, or at least there could be some sort of equilibrium between the two.

The analogue of the Paradox is that of a clockwork clock which is certainly running down with time but somebody may have a key and be winding it up at the same time. So we see the immense philosophical significance of the views of the 1930 Cambridge Club. The Older Physics from the nineteenth century associated with such names as Boltzman was immersed in mechanical concepts of the universe, and considered that a good scientist could make a mechanical model of all his problems (such as the structure of atoms). In that case the philosophical scene was set for a pessimistic outlook for humanity located in a system in which the future pointed to a running-down condition of increasing disorder, so one day ‘the clock will stop’. To set against this was the so-called Modern Physics created by Planck, Einstein and Heisenberg who told us that the universe was not mechanical, that you could not make mechanical models of it, and that although accidental chance and shuffling might have some part to play it was by no means the whole story. So in due course the 1930 Cambridge Club erected another point of view that reality is organic mind- stuff, ‘sorting stuff’.

ibid, pp. 34-37

Foster introduces his notion of "specificity." It is the idea that any specific arrangement of all the atoms, particularly one "arranged" by his programmer God sorting mind-stuff, actually is the very opposite of entropy and disorder. "Conscious sorting" has reduced it to zero entropy and perfect order.

On this analysis the entropy of a system is stated to be the number of its possible arrangements, provided each is valid and without restrictions. To such a system the normal mathematics of probability apply. This new statement of entropy gives exactly the same mathematics as the older variety based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

But why does entropy increase with the number of possible arrangements in a system of entities? Because entropy is the measure of the improbability of entities being in one pre-decided state; it is a measure of uncertainty, the uncertainty of specificity.

ibid, p. 37
The symmetrical paradox between entropy and specificity

The polar or inverse symmetry as between entropy and specificity is of great philosophical interest since it shows that the Paradox as between the running-down of the universe and its winding-up depends upon the same general mathematics with an inverse or NOT relationship.

We must agree with Eddington that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a major law of nature. But we find that it is only half the likely truth and that it has a complement in a sort of Law of Specificity which is its obverse using the same general mathematics. Gradually in this book we approach such a possible Law of Specificity and, perhaps to our surprise, we shall find it to be the central law of organism.

ibid, p. 41
Many scientists and philosophers of science have argued that the universe may be in a perfect state of order with zero entropy. For some, it is an attractive version of a universe that is in the mind of God, or that the universe IS a computer. It dispenses with randomness, and an evolutionary development of life that depends on ontological chance, like that Albert Einstein discovered ten years before quantum uncertainty.

For Foster, life on Earth is the specific arrangement of atoms that was programmed from the Sun via electromagnetic radiation fro the Sun.

Like Foster, information philosophy looks carefully at the arrangement of atoms. "Arrangement" is simply the information content of any material structure. It also looks at the information communicated to/from other structures (sometimes by Foster's radiation, but more often by chemical contact - which of course reduces to the interchange of virtual photons).

All the information structures in the universe and all the information exchange going on between living systems, constitutes a much lower entropy than the maximum possible entropy that could be the case if today all matter was distributed randomly.

Information philosophy can't find a supernatural creator, but it does identify the cosmic creation process, which is explains the creation of all information in the universe. It involves entropy, and quantum chance, as Eddington suspected.

The proximate source of negative entropy (information) is the Sun, as Erwin Schrödinger made famous in 1944, and as David Foster pointed out.

The ultimate source of pockets of order, of negative entropy, of information structures like the Sun, is the expansion of the universe, as Eddington suspected.

"The expansion of the universe creates new possibilities of distribution faster than the atoms can work through them, and there is no longer any likelihood of a particular distribution being repeated. If we continue shuffling a pack of cards we are bound sometime to bring them into their standard order — but not if the conditions are that every morning one more card is added to the pack." New Pathways in Science, p.68.

At Harvard, in the late 1960's, David Layzer also argued that the expansion creates new possibilities faster than atoms can adjust, the germ of his explanation for the growth of order in the universe. Layzer apparently never credited Eddington.

Layzer definitely read The Nature of the Physical World, though perhaps not New Pathways in Science.

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