Citation for this page in APA citation style.           Close


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
Martin J. Klein
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
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
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
 
Cosmic Creation Process
Information philosophy (actually information physics and biology) has now identified the two steps in the process needed to create any new information structure in the universe.

Information structures include the first matter - elementary particles like quarks, protons, neutrons, and electrons. It also includes the first atoms and molecules, which did not become stable entities until at least 380,000 years after the origin of the universe.

1. The Quantum Step. Whenever matter is rearranged to create a new information structure, the quantum binding forces involve a collapse of the wave function that introduces an element of chance. Things could have been otherwise. There is no determinism at the quantum level.

2) The Thermodynamic Step. The new information structure reduces the local entropy. It cannot be stable unless it transfers away enough positive entropy to satisfy the second law of thermodynamics, which says that the total entropy (disorder) must always increase.

In the first few hundred thousand years of early universe, when matter was a very hot ionized plasma gas, an occasional electron combined with a proton to form a hydrogen atom. In a quantum transition from an unbound quantum state to a bound electronic state, the new atom radiated away the binding energy as a photon, - the electron's wave function collapsed.

But immediately, a photon in the hot radiation field re-ionized the new atom. The information in that new atomic structure could not last until the universe cooled down enough to become transparent to radiation. We see those escaping photons, coming today in all directions from the cosmic microwave background radiation, cooled from 5000K to a few degrees Kelvin.

The similar two-step process is needed to form the galaxies, stars, and planets, which were starting to form about 400 million years after the origin. When gravitational forces attract huge volumes of matter, the matter heats up as it collapses. If a gravitating object could not radiate away that heat, it could not become a new information structure like a star or galaxy.

The space between the forming galaxies, into which positive entropy can be radiated, is provided by the expansion of the universe. Without the expansion, no new information would be possible in the universe.

To be sure, quantum chance plays little or no role in gravitational structures. The force of gravity is overwhelmingly deterministic.

All these cosmic information structures are informationally passive. Their interactions follow simple laws of "bottom-up reductionist physics.

But the biological structures of life on Earth are far from passive. They have the extraordinary active and emergent, "top-down" capability of replicating and processing information, then communicating vital information among their parts. Immaterial information is a causal force managing the matter and energy in a living information structure.

Living organisms exhibit purposeful behavior called teleonomy or entelechy, not the teleology many philosophers and theologians think must pre-exist their existence. Living things, you and I, are dynamic growing information structures, forms through which matter and energy continuously flow. And it is information processing that controls those flows!

Information is the modern spirit, the ghost in the machine, the mind in the body. It is the soul, and when we die, it is our information that perishes. The matter remains.

No doubt some of our human purposes are simply inherited, "built-in," as Immanuel Kant thought. They are "teleological" in that their "telos" pre-existed the individual's existence. But not all of our ancestors had those purposes. At some time, some ancestors acquired new purposes. "What is a priori in an individual was a posteriori in his/her ancestral lineage."

Finally, the same two steps are involved in our minds when we create a new idea! Most of our ideas are simply inherited as the traditional knowledge of our culture, but some new thoughts are the work of our creative imagination. In that sense, we are all co-creators of the universe.

Information philosophy tells a story of cosmic and biological evolution that is one creation process all the way from the original cosmic material to the immaterial minds that have now discovered the creation process itself!

Sadly, cosmic creation is horrendously wasteful. In the existential balance between the forces of destruction and the forces of creation, there is no contest. The dark side is overwhelming. By quantitative physical measures of matter and energy content, there is far more chaos than cosmos in our universe. But it is the cosmos that we prize, the information that we value.

Information philosophy focuses on the qualitatively valuable information structures in the universe. The destructive forces are entropic, they increase entropy and disorder. Creative forces are anti-entropic. They increase the order and information. We call them ergodic.

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 stone or a snowflake, in a production process like a recipe or formula, and the information in biological systems, including cell and organ structures and the genetic code.

Information is mathematically related to the measure of disorder known as the thermodynamic quantity called "entropy." Ludwig Boltzmann derived a famous formula S = k log W, where S is the entropy and W is the probability - the number of ways that the internal components (the matter and energy particles of the system) can be rearranged and still be the same system. Thus information is related to probability and possibilities for different arrangements of matter.

The information we mean is closely related to "negative entropy," the departure of a physical system from pure chaos, from "thermodynamic equilibrium."

"Negative entropy" is simply the difference between the maximum possible entropy (where all the particles in a physical system are in a maximum state of disorder, there is no visible structure) and the actual entropy.

In a state of thermodynamic 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. And that departure we call the "negative entropy."

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 thought that meant the universe must have begun 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.

As the universe expands (see the figure), both positive and negative entropy are generated. The normal thermodynamic entropy, known as the Boltzmann Entropy, is the large black arrow. The negative entropy, often called the Shannon Entropy, is a measure of the information content in the evolving universe.

Entropy and information can thus increase at the same time in the expanding universe. There are generally two entropy/information flows. In any process, the positive entropy increase is always at least equal to, and generally orders of magnitude larger than, the negative entropy in any created information structures. Positive entropy must exceed negative, to satisfy the second law of thermodynamics, which says that overall entropy always increases.

Material particles are the first information structures to form in the universe.. They are quarks, baryons, and atomic nuclei, which will combine with electrons to form atoms and eventually molecules, when the temperature is low enough. These material particles are attracted together by the force of universal gravitation to form the gigantic information structures of the galaxies, stars, and planets.

Microscopic quantum mechanical particles and huge self-gravitating systems are both stable and have extremely long lifetimes.

When stars form, they become another source of radiation after the original Big Bang cosmic source, which has cooled down to 3 degrees Kelvin (3K) and shines as the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Our solar radiation has a high color temperature (5780K) but a low energy-content temperature (273K). It is out of equilibrium and it is the source of all the information-generating negative entropy that drives biological evolution on the Earth.

Note that the fraction of the Sun's light falling on Earth is less than a billionth of that which passes by and is lost in space.

A tiny fraction of the solar energy falling on the earth gets converted into the information structures of plants and animals. Most of it gets converted to heat and is radiated away as waste energy to the night sky.

Every biological structure is a quantum mechanical structure. DNA has maintained its stable information structure (again, thanks to the extraordinary stability of quantum structures) over billions of years in the constant presence of chaos and noise.

The stable information content of a human being survives many changes in the material content of the body during a person’s lifetime. Only with death does the mental information (spirit, soul) dissipate - unless it is saved somewhere.

The total mental information in a living human is orders of magnitude less than the information content and information processing rate of the body. But the information structures created by humans outside the body, in the form of external knowledge (we call them the Sum), including the enormous collection of human artifacts, rival the total biological information content.

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 process that creates all information. It is a combination of two distinct physical processes, one quantum mechanical, the other thermodynamic. Understanding this core creative 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.

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.

Many philosophers have looked at the Newtonian mechanical view of the universe and concluded it is indifferent to humanity. The nineteenth-century view of an ultimate heat death for the universe led to a distinctly pessimistic view.

Information philosophy offers a much more optimistic view, one that supports the view of a providential universe. Our "ergodic" information-creating processes are the source of everything of value in the universe.

For Teachers
For Scholars

Introduction Chapter 1.2 - Physics
Home Part Two - Knowledge
Normal | Teacher | Scholar