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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
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
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

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
Richard Dedekind
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Gerald Edelman
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
A.O.Gomes
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
Leopold Kronecker
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)
Giulio Tononi
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

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Hans Kornhuber (1928-2009) and Lüder Deecke (1938-)

In 1964 Kornhuber and Deecke discovered that an electrical potential (of just a few microvolts - μV) is visible in the brain long before the subject flexes a finger. (1964). They called it a "Bereitschaftspotential" or readiness potential.

As shown on their BP/RP diagram, the rise in the readiness potential was clearly visible at about 550 milliseconds before the flex of the wrist (blue arrow).

The neurobiologist John Eccles had speculated that the subject must become conscious of the intention to act before the onset of this readiness potential.

The neurologist Benjamin Libet decided to test Eccles's idea. He performed a sequence of remarkable experiments in the early 1980's that were enthusiastically, if mistakenly, adopted by determinists and compatibilists to show that human free will does not exist.

Libet found that although conscious awareness of the decision preceded the subject's finger motion by only 200 milliseconds, the rise in the Type II readiness potential was clearly visible at about 550 milliseconds before the flex of the wrist. The subject showed unconscious activity to flex about 350 milliseconds before reporting conscious awareness of the decision to flex (the red arrow above). Indeed an earlier slow and very slight rise in the readiness potential can be seen as early as 1.5 seconds before the action.

This earlier rise is a Type I RP/BP, as explained in a personal communication from Lüder Deecke.

When you are saying: “Indeed an earlier slow and very slight rise in the readiness potential can be seen as early as 1.5 sec before the action.” this is indeed so. This is the BP1, the bilaterally-symmetrical early BP/RP component generated by both SMAs. The SMA is on the mesial surface of the hemisphere, behind it is the M1/Area 4 of the lower extremity leg and foot. So both SMAs are contributing to BP 1, and this is so even with unilateral movements. This is why we named the potential readiness potential, because this makes the brain ready for the intended movement or action.

And we later found the full explanation, I mean why this is so important, so early, and so necessary. Hans Kornhuber and I postulated that there has to be a CMA as well, and made sure there is. CMA means cingulate motor area, and the cingulate gyrus (cingulum is belt) you can look it up on brain maps. This is our emotional brain. It is like a belt running from anterior to posterior on the inner surface of the hemispheres around the corpus callosum (black). I labelled SMA and CMA into Karl Kleist’s brain map, which unfortunately is only available in German.

The Will and Its Brain
Kornhuber and Deecke's 2009 book is a reasoned defense of human free will against those who argue that the fact that the brain is a physical thing must mean that it is totally determined.

The book has a wonderful historical review of the concept of free will, including its twists and turns when twentieth-century behaviorists denied the existence of the mind, which had been the centerpiece of nineteenth-century psychology.

The Preface is well worth reading closely.

Why is it so important that this book appears in English and, what is more, is published in the United States? There are many reasons, here are three of them:

(1) To tell the full Bereitschaftspotential story. This slow brain potential, which precedes all our voluntary movements and actions, was discovered by the authors (Kornhuber and Deecke, 1964, 1965). We offered the translated term “readiness potential” in our publication, but the “tongue twister” Bereitschaftspotential (BP) was preferred. The Bereitschaftspotential can be found in the list of German words in the English language. It had quite an impact; it revived the opinion about will and volition and also about freedom as opposed to total determinism.

(2) A further discovery is that we have shown experimentally that the frontal lobes are initiating and steering a movement or particular task we perform. But the frontal lobe does not execute the task. It delegates the execution of the task to the expert systems in the brain, mostly to the motor-cortex-basal- ganglia-loop, but in case of visually-guided tracking movements even to the visual cortex itself. The reader of the book will get at least an idea, a feeling, what the human frontal lobes are and what they are doing. As we expound in our book, there is one important statement: The frontal cortex is the seat of the will. This is by no means widely recognized, and the main route of argumentation—what happens when the frontal cortex is destroyed?—is almost forgotten. That is to say, it is essential to incorporate the numerous classical lesion studies in our argumentation. By careful studies of frontal lesions in patients we can leam what the normal functions of the frontal cortex are. This is all classical heritage of Clinical Neurology. It was the discipline of Clinical Neurology that collected the largest body of experience about the abilities of man and his brain. This experience had led to two theories (models) of how the brain functions: (a) a hierarchical system of centers ordered side by side or on top of each other, and (b) a distributed system, in which, by nerve fibers, most of the brain is connected with many other centers, and this system achieves its performances always by distributed cooperation. The two models were heavily debated over decades. But this was on an either-or-basis: “Localisationists” fought against “network advocates.” As the reader will see in the book, we now teach that both principles are realized in higher brains.

(3) What then is will? As the present authors conceive it, will is a complex function, beginning with consideration, planning and thereafter, decision, all this taking place in the bright light of consciousness and with self-critical connection to reality, then shifting parts of the processing into unconscious routines but with accompanying supervision, surveillance, control and, if necessary, correction until the goal is reached.

We hope that our book may fall on fertile ground: There is a tradition also in the United States, where a movement against total determinism began, promoted by Edward Deci, Frederick Kanfer and others, which revived the tradition of William James, and also by Wayne Hershberger 1989. Deci and Kanfer’s key words are self-regulation, self-determinism and even self-management, terms implying free will. In philosophy too, a new discussion on the will and its freedom began. A book written by Sir Karl Popper and Sir John Eccles discussed the Bereitschaftspotential and Kornhuber’s ideas, and in the “Oxford Handbook of Free Will” the discovery of the Bereitschaftspotential is also discussed (Kane 2002). In the United States it is in particular the philosopher Daniel Dennett, who is writing important books and is an eminent promoter of will evolving in freedom.

The reader will find all this in the present book “The Will and its Brain,” he also may consult its index. In the end, he or she may agree with the authors in saying that it is extremely necessary to counteract the dogma of total determinism i. e. that we are totally determined in all our actions and doings. This would have the consequence that we are not responsible for what we are doing. Such an all too easy exculpation (“te absolvo"), some call it “self-corruption” is what people and the media may like to hear. However, it is not so. We do have freedom, inner freedom. Thus, we have responsibility for our deeds, and we can put a veto to bad intentions, e.g. when pursuing unethical goals.

Deecke on "Conscious Will."
The psychologist Daniel Wegner famously argued that the conscious will is an illusion. He and Dan Dennett used the work of Benjamin Libet extensively to defend their determinist views.

But Lüder Deecke explains that early brain activity does not deny human freedom.

Decisions in the brain are mostly not made abruptly—except we are forced by the situation, for instance when skiing—rather they are made gradually. Even simple decisions—for instance the pressing of a right or a left button—need some time and a few seconds go by until we start the movement. The matter is different, if we are under time pressure or with rapt attention to a stimulus. This can be so because we were not yet absolutely determined or because the way from the frontal cortex does not go directly to motor cortex, which was earlier belief, but needs the cooperation of a phylogenetically old subcortical part of the brain that provides learned and stored movement programs, the basal ganglia. Functional magnetic resonance imaging then shows vague activities, which can be interpreted as if up to 10 s prior to the movement in the prefrontal brain a change in activity occurred that might lead to a decision a bit later, i.e., it looks as if an unconscious decision had been made [64]. This is not a sign of a lack of freedom, rather it signals insufficient attention or shortage of memory in conjunction with the absence of haste. The resulting movement is consciously controlled in any case.
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