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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
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
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

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
 
Mikhail Volkenstein
Mikhail Vladimirovich Volkenstein was a leading Russian biophysicist. He was a specialist in the "organic chemistry" of macromolecules and other polymers. He founded the Leningrad school of polymer science.

His early work was on the spectroscopy of molecules, especially the vibrational band spectra of oscillating molecules (like your Information Philosopher).

In the 1970's, Volkenstein started to explore the question of the origin of life. He set out to investigate the complex connections between entropy, information, and life.

The Soviet Union allowed him to travel to Berlin to attend conferences on irreversible processes and self-organization. He met there with Ilya Prigogine, who won the Nobel Prize for his investigations into the irreversibility of processes in complex physical systems that are far from equilibrium conditions.

Prigogine developed non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of what he called "dissipative structures." These are physical or chemical systems in far from equilibrium" conditions that appear to develop "order out of chaos" and look to be "self-organizing." Like biological systems, matter and energy (of low entropy) flow through the "dissipative" structure. It is primarily the energy and negative entropy that is being "dissipated." Prigogine'a work on the mathematical non-linearity of non-equilibrium thermodynamics is the basis of much "chaos theory" and "complexity theory."

Volkenstein greatly admired the work of Manfred Eigen, who developed the idea of "hypercycles," based on the well-known citric acid cycle, in which each step is catalyzed by an enzyme such that the cycle can be described as "autocatalytic," a popular idea among many theorists on the origin of life.

Surprisingly, many scientists, even specialists in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics are ambivalent about the concept of entropy and its significance. Not so surprisingly, generalists in physics, chemistry, and biology also are ambiguous about the role of entropy, and especially about the connection between entropy and so-called "negative entropy," which is intimately connected to information.

Volkenstein's 1986 book, Entropy and Information, would better have been entitled Entropy, Information, and Life. It might have received more attention from biologists. But even this book cannot explain the deep and complicated connections between the creation of information in the universe and physical entropy, let alone its dependence on quantum mechanics.

Many philosophers of science are suspicious of interpretations of quantum mechanics that imply the universe is indeterministic, that chance is real. A large majority of philosophers believe that human free will is compatible with physical determinism. Like Albert Einstein and many other great physicists, they hope that underlying "hidden variables" will be discovered that will restore classical deterministic laws of nature.

In his preface to his book, Volkenstein was very optimistic that the role of entropy in biology could be made very clear. He called it "not very complicated."

This is just...entropy,
he said, thinking that
this explained everything,
and he repeated the
strange word a few times.
Karel Capek, “Krakatit”
1

This “strange word” denotes one of the most basic quantities of the physics of heat phenomena, that is, of thermodynamics. Although the concept of entropy did indeed originate in thermodynamics, it later became clear that it was a more universal concept, of fundamental significance for chemistry and biology, as well as physics.

Although the concept of energy is usually considered more important and easier to grasp, it turns out, as we shall see, that the idea of entropy is just as substantial—and moreover not all that complicated. We can compute or measure the quantity of energy contained in this sheet of paper, and the same is true of its entropy. Furthermore, entropy has remarkable properties. Our galaxy, the solar system, and the biosphere all take their being from entropy, as a result of its transference to the surrounding medium. There is a surprising connection between entropy and information, that is, the total intelligence communicated by a message. All of this is expounded in the present book, thereby conveying information to the reader and decreasing his entropy; but it is up to the reader to decide how valuable this information might be.

The second half of the 20th century is notable for the creation and development of complex areas of science of the greatest importance not only for the natural sciences and technology, but also for the humanities. Such are cybernetics, information theory, and synergetics. Although these terms did not exist fifty years ago 2, they now turn up constantly. In all three of these disciplines the concepts of entropy and information are absolutely indispensable, so that without them it is not possible to grasp the true essence of modern science. The final chapters of the book contain brief, and of necessity incomplete, expositions of synergetics and information theory. The aim of the present account is to bring these new disciplines to the reader’s attention, and introduce him or her to the circle of related ideas.

1. Karel Capek (1890-1938), Czech playwright and novelist. Inventor of the word “robot” in its present sense, in his play RUR.
2. This was written in 1986, so information theory and cybernetics originated around the time of World War II.

References
Entropy and Information
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