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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
Nancy Cartwright
Gregg Caruso
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
Austin Farrer
Herbert Feigl
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Bas van Fraassen
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
Frank Jackson
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
Joseph Levine
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
Arthur O. Lovejoy
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

David Albert
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
Jean Bricmont
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Sadi Carnot
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Rudolf Clausius
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
George F. R. Ellis
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
Basil Hiley
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
Don Howard
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
E. T. Jaynes
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Daniel Koshland
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
Owen Maroney
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
N. David Mermin
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
Lord Rayleigh
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Sebastian Seung
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Abner Shimony
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
Richard von Mises
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Herman Weyl
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
 
Arthur Lovejoy
Arthur O. Lovejoy studied philosophy under William James at Harvard. Over two decades after James' death, in 1933 Lovejoy gave the second William James Lecture series at Harvard, which became his 1936 book, The Great Chain of Being. In 1940 he co-founded the Journal of the History of Ideas. He helped found the American Association of University Professors and the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lovejoy's book was not the first "history of an idea." In English that was probably J.B.Bury's 1920 classic The Idea of Progress, with an important new introduction by historian Charles Beard in 1932. Works in Europe after the French revolution developed the idea of progress, especially Alexis de Tocqueville's two books on Democracy in America, where the United States are his model of progress.

The Great Chain of Being
Lovejoy's most famous work is his 1936 history of an idea that began in the writings of the Greek philosophers Parmenides and Plato. It is the idea of "being" (Greek τὸ ὂν, the etymological root of ontology, the study of what is).

For Parmenides, becoming (change) is an illusion. For Plato, being is the unchanging truth, the good, and the beautiful.

Lovejoy shows how ideas of the neoplatonists became the basis for the theologians of the Christian church, who argued that God's creation must be perfect, complete, and a continuous "natural scale" (scala naturae) from the least living thing up to the ens perfectissimum, the most perfect Being, God himself. This natural scale became known in English as the "great chain of being."

The continuity of the scale was the argument that there could be no gaps, that every possible being between two very similar beings must necessarily exist.

In his book, The Great Chain of Being, Lovejoy traces the history of this idea from ancient philosophy through medieval theology to the science of the enlightenment and the "age of reason." Scholastics like Thomas Aquinas argued there could be no conflict between reason and revealed religion, though his contemporary Scholastic John Duns Scotus argued that reason alone can not determine what God created. God is not constrained by logic or by universal and eternal laws of nature, God is free, said Scotus.

Lovejoy argues that God's perfection and the principles of plenitude (completeness) and continuity (no gaps) implies that truth and goodness are timeless.

God's perfection also implies no possible change. There can never be any "progress."

When the principle of plenitude was construed either religiously, as an expression of the faith in the divine goodness, or philosophically, as an implicate of the principle of sufficient reason, it was, as usually understood, inconsistent with any belief in progress, or, indeed, in any sort of significant change in the universe as a whole. The Chain of Being, in so far as its continuity and completeness were affirmed on the customary grounds, was a perfect example of an absolutely rigid and static scheme of things. Rationality has nothing to do with dates. If the non-existence of one of the links in the chain would be proof of the arbitrariness of the constitution of the world today, it would have been so yesterday, and would be so tomorrow. As an early eighteenth-century English philosopher put the point:
[God] always acts upon some ground or Reason, and from thence it follows that he had some Reason for Creation, otherwise he never would have created at all. If then he had any Reason, that Reason certainly was the same from all Eternity that it was at any particular time: For instance, suppose Goodness was the Ground of his Creation, it follows that if it was good at any particular time, it was equally so from all Eternity.1 This, a contemporary pointed out, if true, must be true not only of the creation in general, but of every kind of being: it implies that, “not only Angels and Men, but every other species of creatures, every Planet with all its Inhabitants, were eternal,” and, what is more, “ that God cannot hereafter create any new Species of Beings; because, whatever it is good for him to create in Time, it was equally good from all Eternity.”

Lovejoy's adding time and change corresponds to the realization that science does not discover the "universal" laws of nature by reason and logic alone (in an ivory tower), but by observing the world and testing theories with experiments.

The Revolt Against Dualism
This book is a difficult read, because Lovejoy employs a good deal of jargon that makes comparison with other philosophers a challenge. And he is critical of the methods of most other philosophers. He says...
The history of philosophy is strewn with the wrecks of supposedly self-evident truths which, when their full meaning was developed, proved to be in fact self-contradictory. The great trouble with philosophy has been that so many philosophers have been the sort of men who fall in love with an idea at first sight.

The first few hundred pages of Lovejoy's book are filled with two kinds of dualism. He sometimes calls them epistemological dualism and psychophysical dualism. At other times they are natural dualism and Cartesian dualism. They also appear as a dualism of subject/object or of mind/body. Perhaps most important they seem to be the master idealism/materialism dualism at the top of our table of dualisms.

This last dualism is most fitting for this great historian of ideas. Lovejoy's life work can be understood as determining the ontological status of ideas. The subtitle of The Revolt Against Dualism is "An Inquiry Concerning the Existence of Ideas."

Information philosophy has solved this problem, viewing ideas as the purely abstract and immaterial information that can be (partially) instantiated in multiple physical structures, in "real" material objects and in our brains as knowledge or "ideas." Lovejoy struggles with his dualisms near the end of the book.

Whatever the truth or falsity of these incidental observations about the method of philosophical inquiry...We have not, so far, been asking whether dualism of the one sort or the other is true; we have been asking only whether, when the existence of a real and at least in some measure knowable physical world is postulated, either sort of dualism can be avoided without contradiction either of the implications of realism itself or of admitted facts. Can — we have been inquiring — all or any of the content actually and indubitably given in perception or other forms of supposedly cognitive experience be believed to be identical with the independently existing realities with which, upon the realistic hypothesis, these data enable us to become to some extent acquainted; and, if the notion of a physical order is defined in certain very general terms which seem to express the essentials of the common conception of physical reality, can these data, and all the rest of the content of experience, be conceived to find a place in that order? In short, can a realistic philosophy dispense with the hypothesis of the existence of ideas — in approximately though not quite precisely the sense in which that term was commonly used by the philosophers of the seventeenth century? The hypothetical character of this question does not, of course, mean that it is artificial, arbitrary, or unimportant. It happens that the greater part of mankind, and, in particular, most men of science, are still believers in a physical world; it is therefore not superfluous to inquire upon what terms that belief may consistently be held. And if a negative answer to the question propounded is reached — if it can be shown that a non-dualistic realism is an impossible kind of realism —this is manifestly equivalent to proof of a far-reaching conclusion, transcending the scope of the hypothetical question — a proof, namely, that the proposition "ideas (in this sense) exist” is a necessary part of nearly every possible sort of philosophy. For it is, of course, only from the standpoint of realism that that proposition is likely to be challenged, since the idealist is convinced ab initio that ideas, together with minds and their acts, make up the whole sum of existence. To make it evident to everybody that "ideas” are in fact indispensable in the realist’s world as well as the idealist’s would be to reestablish peace over a considerable part of the troubled domain of philosophy — a part in which peace had reigned, with but one or two slight interruptions, from the beginning of modern philosophy until the present century.
"Ideas" are of course a vital part of a realist's world but they have an immaterial abstract (almost metaphysical) existence just as Aristotle said about his master Plato's ideas. They are abstractions from the physical objects that they represent in language and thought.

Lovejoy fails to see that "ideas" are still in the physical world, they are simply immaterial, the arrangements of the matter so as to be partially isomorphic with the information in the idea.

He finally concludes that revolts against psychophysical (mind/body) dualism and epistemological dualism (subjective knowledge vs. the objective world) have both failed.

In arriving, by means of this review, at a reasoned conclusion with respect to these questions, we have reached the principal objective proposed at the beginning of these lectures. The revolt — within the realistic provinces of philosophical opinion — against dualism, both psychophysical and epistemological, has failed. The content of our actual experience does not consist wholly, and it is unprovable and improbable that any part of it consists, of entities which, upon any plausible theory of the constitution of the physical world, can be supposed to be members of that world; it consists of particulars which arise through the functioning of percipient organisms, are present only within the private fields of awareness of such organisms, are destitute of certain of the essential properties and relations implied either by the historic concept of the "physical” or by the contemporary physicist’s concept of it, and possess properties which physical things lack. They are, in short, essentially of the nature of "ideas,” as Descartes and Locke (for the most part) used that term. And it is through these entities that any knowledge which we may attain of the concrete characters of the physical world, and of any other realities extraneous to our several private fields of awareness, must be mediated; so that we are brought back to Locke’s conclusion, despite the heroic efforts of so many philosophers of our age to escape from it: "it is evident that the mind knows not things immediately, but by the intervention of the ideas it has of them.” If the word "nature” is used — though I think it is unhappily so used — to mean exclusively the world as it is, or may conceivably be, apart from all experience, i. e., apart from the processes of conscious perception and thought and phantasy and feeling, then between "nature” and experience there is a radical discontinuity; for the occurrence of those processes adds to the sum of reality not only particular existents, but kinds of existents, which "nature” — if so defined — though it engenders them, cannot plausibly be supposed to contain,

Information philosophy disagrees with Lovejoy in that the mind is clearly a part of "nature" and in the physical world. The "ideas" in minds are significantly correlated with the information content of material objects and immaterial concepts to the extent that they represent knowledge of nature and the physical world.

Check out our I-Phi lecture on The Ontological Status of Ideas as a central problem in metaphysics.

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