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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
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
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

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
David Chalmers

David Chalmers is a philosopher of mind whose characterization of consciousness as "the hard problem" has set a very high bar for understanding the mind. He says that "the problem of quantum mechanics is almost as hard as the problem of consciousness."

For the past two decades, he has repeatedly asked two questions, "What is the place of consciousness in nature?," and "What is the reality behind quantum mechanics?"

That these questions are connected comes from many scientists who speculated that the mind of the conscious observer is the cause of the collapse of the wave function. This is nonsense. Wave functions have been collapsing long before physicists and human beings existed.

Physicists like John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner and many other "interpreters" of quantum mechanics argue that wave-function collapse is evidence for a cosmic consciousness or mind of God at work creating the universe. Chalmers sees it for evidence of panpsychism, that consciousness is a fundamental, non-material component of the universe.

Chalmers describes his position as a naturalistic dualism, also known as physicalism. He doubts that consciousness can be explained by physical theories, because consciousness is itself not physical. We partly agree, because all experiences are recorded and reproduced as immaterial information - in both conscious and unconscious playback.

But information, while not material, is embodied in the physical world - as human knowledge, and as the experiences recorded in our minds (our ERR mind model). It is a property of the material world. The relationship between idealism (ideas are immaterial information) and materialism (the idea that everything in the universe is matter - or energy) is a "dualism." And Chalmers thinks (correctly) it is a "property" dualism, not the "substance" dualism usually attributed to René Descartes, but actually much older. See our extensive table of dualisms over the centuries.)

Chalmers says that the failure of supervenience implies that materialism - as a monistic theory of the complete contents of the world, that there is "nothing but" matter, and that the world is "causally closed," for example - is "false." We agree with this and believe that the reductionist arguments of Jaegwon Kim can be shown wrong. Here is Chalmers...

  1. In our world, there are conscious experiences.
  2. There is a logically possible world physically identical to ours, in which the positive facts about consciousness in our world do not hold.
  3. Therefore, facts about consciousness are further facts about our world, over and above the physical facts.
  4. So materialism is false.

Chalmers suggests that the dualistic (non-physical) element might be information. Indeed it might. With this idea too, information philosophy completely agrees. Mind/body is a property dualism, not a "substance" dualism, as Descartes thought.

Chalmers says that a "fundamental theory of consciousness" might be based on information. He says that "physical realization is the most common way to think about information embedded in the world, but it is not the only way information can be found. We can also find information realized in our phenomenology." (ibid, p.284)

He is quite correct. Information is neither matter nor energy. It needs matter to be embedded temporarily in the brain. And it needs energy to be communicated. Phenomenal experiences transmitted to us as visual perceptions, for example, consist of information that is pure radiant energy. The pure (mental) information content in one brain can be transmitted to other brains, by converting it to energy for communication; other brains can then embody the same information (perhaps with significant differences in the details) for use by other minds (the "multiply realizable" software in different brains' hardware).

But such transmitted information is stripped of the contextual emotions that are generated by each individual's past-life experiences reproducer (ERR). So the same "information" "or "knowledge"

Chalmers comes very close to our view of the mind as information. He describes his fundamental theory as a "double-aspect principle."

The treatment of information brings out a crucial link between the physical and the phenomenal: whenever we find an information space realized phenomenally, we find the same information space realized physically...It is natural to suppose that this double life of information spaces corresponds to a duality at a deep level. We might even suggest that this double realization is the key to the fundamental connection between physical processes and conscious experience. We need some sort of construct to make the link, and information seems as good a construct as any. It may be that principles concerning the double realization of information could be fleshed out into a system of basic laws connecting the physical and phenomenal domains.

We might put this by suggesting as a basic principle that information (in the actual world) has two aspects, a physical and a phenomenal aspect. Wherever there is a phenomenal state, it realizes an information state, an information state that is also realized in the cognitive system of the brain. Conversely, for at least some physically realized information spaces, whenever an information state in that space is realized physically, it is also realized phenomenally...

Information seems to be a simple and straightforward construct that is well suited for this sort of connection, and which may hold the promise of yielding a set of laws that are simple and comprehensive. If such a set of laws could be achieved, then we might truly have a fundamental theory of consciousness.

It may just be...that there is a way of seeing information itself as fundamental.

In his conclusions, Chalmers declares himself to be a mind-body dualist.

I resisted mind-body dualism for a long time, but I have now come to the point where I accept it, not just as the only tenable view but as a satisfying view in its own right. It is always possible that I am confused, or that there is a new and radical possibility that I have overlooked; but I can comfortably say that I think dualism is very likely true. I have also raised the possibility of a kind of panpsychism. Like mind-body dualism, this is initially counterintuitive, but the counterintuitiveness disappears with time. I am unsure whether the view is true or false, but it is at least intellectually appealing, and on reflection it is not too crazy to be acceptable.

Chalmers has explored panpsychism, the thesis that some fundamental material entities have mental states. Information philosophy denies this, identifying mind-like behavior only with the information processing in the "subjective experiences" of living things.

We have surveyed many philosophers and scientists who turned to panpsychism, including Alfred North Whitehead, Wolfgang Pauli (greatly influenced by Carl Jung), Gregory Bateson, William Seager, Roger Penrose, Henry Stapp, Stuart Hameroff, Ulrich Mohrhoff, Uwe Meixner, David Chalmers, and Galen Strawson. Since information is a universal property of matter, it "goes all the way down," so in one sense, the basis of mentality - information - is present in the simplest physical structures.

But information philosophy shows there is nothing like reflective awareness in the passive information structures like the galaxies. stars, and planets. It is only living things, that use information processing to manage the flow of matter and energy through this information structures, that have the awareness and reactions to their environments that can be called consciousness in higher beings.

And there is nothing like the accumulated experiences recorded in the brains of higher animals that make their "conscious" reactions to similar events quite diverse. This accounts for the first-person, "subjective" nature of experience that Chalmers calls the "hard problem" of consciousness.

Material objects react "objectively" in their interactions with other objects. Living things, with their immaterial minds, react "subjectively" to events in the world. They have "behaviors," which are the products of their individual life experiences that have been acquired environmentally ("nurture") as well as the past experiences of their species, which are transmitted genetically ("nature"). Higher organisms with two stages of freedom and creativity also can create genuinely new behaviors and add to the increasing sum of human knowledge.

Chalmers restates his view of the "hard problem" in a recent publication:

"What it's like to be..." is to have an experience recorder and reproducer (ERR)
The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. Humans beings have subjective experience: there is something it is like to be them. We can say that a being is conscious in this sense – or is phenomenally conscious, as it is sometimes put—when there is something it is like to be that being. A mental state is conscious when there is something it is like to be in that state. Conscious states include states of perceptual experience, bodily sensation, mental imagery, emotional experience, occurrent thought, and more. There is something it is like to see a vivid green, to feel a sharp pain, to visualize the Eiffel tower, to feel a deep regret, and to think that one is late. Each of these states has a phenomenal character, with phenomenal properties (or qualia) characterizing what it is like to be in the state.
Consciousness and its Place in Nature
For Teachers
For Scholars
Notes

1.

Bibliography

Chapter 1.4 - The Philosophy Chapter 1.6 - The Scientists
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