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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Augustine
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A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
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Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
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Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
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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
Carl Ginet
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
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David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
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Jaegwon Kim
William King
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George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
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Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
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C.W.Rietdijk
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Josiah Royce
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Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
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T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
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Wilfrid Sellars
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J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
L. Susan Stebbing
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Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Richard Taylor
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W.G.Ward
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Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
E. H. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
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
Joseph Fourier
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Stuart Hameroff
Patrick Haggard
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
William Stanley Jevons
Pascual Jordan
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
John von Neumann
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
 
Titus Lucretius Carus

Lucretius is best known for his long poem On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura), which is principally a defense of the ideas of Epicurus, especially the idea of free will, based on Epicurus's introduction of some chance into the universe.

Lucretius is our most direct source for Epicurus' ideas. To break the causal chain of determinism implicit in Democritus' cosmology of atoms in a void, Epicurus postulated an occasional "swerve" of the atoms from their determined paths. We now know that atoms are "swerving" (with unpredictable motions) whenever they come near other atoms. So Epicurus' assumption does indeed break the causal chain of determinism.

But how exactly does chance enter into the mind and its decisions? Critics of Epicurus, Cicero and Chrysippus, for example, charged that our decisions would be random if chance were the direct cause of our actions.

Determinism and indeterminism then become the two horns of a dilemma in the standard argument against free will. If we are determined, we are not free, if we are random, we do not control our will.

But Epicurus surely was not thinking our choices and decisions are random, since he hoped to ensure moral responsibility. He explicitly cited necessity (ἀνάγκη) and chance (τύχη) as two kinds of causes, but (following Aristotle) he maintained that our autonomous agency is a third kind (a tertium quid) of cause that is "up to us" (παρ’ ῆμᾶς), obviously meaning it is neither of the first two. But the Stoics (notably Chrysippus, and even the Academic Cicero) destroyed Epicurus' reputation, and it has not recovered to this day.

Lucretius describes the need for some indeterminism, and more strongly than Epicurus, locates the swerving first-beginnings in the mind:

Again, if all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if the first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion such as to break the decrees of fate, that cause may not follow cause from infinity, whence comes this free will in living creatures all over the earth, whence I say is this will wrested from the fates by which we proceed whither pleasure leads each, swerving also our motions not at fixed times and fixed places, but just where our mind has taken us? For undoubtedly it is his own will in each that begins these things, and from the will movements go rippling through the limbs.
Denique si semper motu conectitur omnis
et vetere exoritur novus ordine certo
nec declinando faciunt primordia motus
principium quoddam, quod fati foedera rumpat,
ex infinito ne causam causa sequatur,     255
libera per terras unde haec animantibus exstat,
unde est haec, inquam, fatis avolsa voluntas,
per quam progredimur quo ducit quemque voluptas,
declinamus item motus nec tempore certo
nec regione loci certa, sed ubi ipsa tulit mens?     260
nam dubio procul his rebus sua cuique voluntas
principium dat et hinc motus per membra rigantur.
(De Rerum Natura, Book 2, lines 251-62, Loeb Library, W.H.D. Rouse, trans.)

What keeps the mind itself from having necessity within it in all actions, and from being as it were mastered and forced to endure and to suffer, is the minute swerving of the first-beginnings at no fixed place and at no fixed time.

sed ne res ipsa necessum
intestinum habeat cunctis in rebus agendis     290
et devicta quasi cogatur ferre patique,
id facit exiguum clinamen principiorum
nec regione loci certa nec tempore certo.
(De Rerum Natura, Book 2, lines 289-93)

Lucretius says clearly that the atomic swerve (clinamen, declinando) breaks the bonds of fate (fati foedera rumpat). He then says that "we swerve" (declinamus) our own motions - just where our mind takes us. One can clearly read this as motions that are "up to us," not that our actions are random. But it is easy to see how (Stoic and Academic) critics could charge him with making the mind and actions depend on chance.

The "first beginning" (primordia motus principium) seems to be a reference to Aristotle's first motion (ἀρχή) and a kind of causa sui that would start additional new causal chains under the control of the mind ("just where our mind has taken us").

The Latin original (lines 256-7) actually says - "whence comes this freedom" (libera), not "will" (cf. voluntas in line 257). Most translators, influenced by the centuries old free will debate, translate libera as "free will."

...quod fati foedera rumpat,
ex infinito ne causam causa sequatur,
libera per terras unde haec animantibus exstat,
unde est haec, inquam, fatis avolsa voluntas,
per quam progredimur quo ducit quemque voluptas,

But Lucretius himself clearly distinguishes the "free" (libera) from the "will" (voluntas). Seventeen centuries later, John Locke said that to think of the will itself as free (in the sense of uncaused and random) is a major source of philosophical confusion.

Moreover, Lucretius describes a temporal sequence of events in the mind, first "free" then "will." Lucretius describes first (primum) the images or "idols" (simulacra, ἐιδόλα) that enter the mind randomly (accidere). Compare William James's view that ideas just "pop into our heads."

Only then (inde, next) comes the willed action (voluntas) that moves the body.

Dico animo nostro primum simulacra meandi     881
accidere atque animum pulsare, ut diximus ante.
inde voluntas fit;

"In the first place, images of walking (primum simulacra meandi, line 881) happen (accidere, accidently) in our mind and give an impulse to our mind ...Next after this comes the will (inde voluntas fit, line 883)."

Here Lucretius clearly anticipates our two-stage Cogito model - first "free," then "will" - when he says, in essence, "First images strike the mind, next comes will."

In De Rerum Natura, Book 4, lines 877-906, he says (Rouse translation):

877 Next I will say how it comes about that we can carry onwards our steps when we please, how it has been given to us to move our limbs in different ways, what has caused the habit of pushing onwards this great bodily weight: do you attend to my sayings.

881 I say that in the first place images of movement come in contact with our mind, and strike the mind, as I said before.

After this comes will; for no one ever begins anything until the intelligence has first foreseen what it wills to do. (What it foresees, the image of that thing is present in the mind.)

Therefore when the mind so bestirs itself that it wishes to go and to step forwards, at once it strikes all the mass of spirit that is distributed abroad through limbs and frame in all the body. And this is easy to do, since the spirit is held in close combination with it. The spirit in its turn strikes the body, and so the whole mass is gradually pushed on and moves...

898 Again, there is no need to be surprised that elements so small can sway so large a body and turn about our whole weight. For indeed the wind, which is thin and has a fine substance, drives and pushes a great ship with mighty momentum, and one hand rules it however fast it may go, and one rudder steers it in any direction; and a machine by its blocks and treadwheels moves many bodies of great weight and uplifts them with small effort.

Nunc qui fiat uti passus proferre queamus,
cum volumus, varieque datum sit membra movere,
et quae res tantum hoc oneris protrudere nostri
corporis insuerit, dicam ; to percipe dicta.     880

First images
strike the mind,
then comes will
Dico animo nostro primum simulacra meandi
accidere atque animum pulsare, ut diximus ante.
inde voluntas fit;

neque enim facere incipit ullam
rem quisquam, quam mens providit quid velit ante;
id quod providet, illius rei constat imago.     885
ergo animus cum sere ita commovet ut velit ire
inque gredi, ferit extemplo quae in corpore toto
per membra atque artus animai dissita vis est
et facilest factu, quoniam coniuncta tenetur.
inde ea proporro corpus ferit, atque ita tota     890
paulatim moles protruditur atque movetur.
praeterea tum rarescit quoque corpus, et aer
(scilicet ut debet qui semper mobilis extat)
per patefacta vent penetratque foramina largus,
et dispargitur ad partis ita quasque minutas     895
corporis. hic igitur rebus fit utrimque duabus,
corpus ut, ac navis velis ventoque, feratur.

Nec tamen illud in his rebus mirabile constat,
tantula quod tantum corpus corpuscula possunt
contorquere et onus totum converters nostrum.     900
quippe etenim ventus subtili corpore tenvis
trudit agens magnam magno molimine navem,
et manus una regit quantovis impete euntem
atque gubernaclum contorquet quolibet unum,
multaque per trocleas et tympana ponders magno
commovet atque levi sustollit machina nisu. 906

What Lucretius said about the "idols" - images that strike the mind, shows not only that they are many, spontaneous, and random (accidental), but they can combine to form purely imaginary images, like the centaur.

In De Rerum Natura, Book 4, lines 722-48, he says:

722 Now listen, and hear what things stir the mind, and learn in a few words whence those things come into the mind that there do come.

724 In the first place I tell you that many images of things are moving about in many ways and in all directions, very thin, which easily unite in the air when they meet, being like spider's web or leaf of gold. In truth these are much more thin in texture than those which take the eyes and assail the vision, since these penetrate through the interstices of the body, and awake the thin substance of the mind within, and assail the sense.

732 Thus it is we see Centaurs, and the frames of Scyllas,a and faces of dogs like Cerberus, and images of those for whom death is past, whose bones rest in earth's embrace, since images of all kinds are being carried about everywhere, some that arise spontaneously in the air itself, some that are thrown off from all sorts of things, others that are made of a combination of these shapes. For certainly no image of a Centaur comes from one living, since there never was a living thing of this nature; but when the images of man and horse meet by accident, they easily adhere at once, as I said before, on account of their fine nature and thin texture. All other things of this class are made in the same way. And since these are carried about with velocity because of their extreme lightness, as I explained before, any given one of these fine images easily bestirs our mind by a single impression; for the mind is itself thin and wonderfully easy to move.

Lucretius De Rerum Natura
Book I

Book II

Book III

Book IV

For Teachers
For Scholars
De Rerum Natura, book 2, lines 216-93
Illud in his quoque te rebus cognoscere avemus,
corpora cum deorsum rectum per inane feruntur
ponderibus propriis, incerto tempore ferme
incertisque locis spatio depellere paulum,
tantum quod momen mutatum dicere possis.     220
quod nisi declinare solerent, omnia deorsum
imbris uti guttae caderent per inane profundum
nec foret offensus natus nec plaga creata
principiis; ita nihil umquam natura creasset.

Quod si forte aliquis credit graviora potesse     225
corpora, quo citius rectum per inane feruntur,
incidere ex supero levioribus atque ita plagas
gignere, quae possint genitalis reddere motus,
avius a vera longe ratione recedit.
nam per aquas quae cumque cadunt atque aera rarum,     230
haec pro ponderibus casus celerare necessest
propterea quia corpus aquae naturaque tenvis
aeris haud possunt aeque rem quamque morari,
sed citius cedunt gravioribus exsuperata;
at contra nulli de nulla parte neque ullo     235
tempore inane potest vacuum subsistere rei,
quin, sua quod natura petit, concedere pergat;
omnia qua propter debent per inane quietum
aeque ponderibus non aequis concita ferri.
haud igitur poterunt levioribus incidere umquam     240
ex supero graviora neque ictus gignere per se,
qui varient motus, per quos natura gerat res.
quare etiam atque etiam paulum inclinare necessest
corpora; nec plus quam minimum, ne fingere motus
obliquos videamur et id res vera refutet.     245
namque hoc in promptu manifestumque esse videmus,
pondera, quantum in est, non posse obliqua meare,
ex supero cum praecipitant, quod cernere possis;
sed nihil omnino regione viai
declinare quis est qui possit cernere sese?     250

Denique si semper motu conectitur omnis
et vetere exoritur novus ordine certo
nec declinando faciunt primordia motus
principium quoddam, quod fati foedera rumpat,
ex infinito ne causam causa sequatur,     255
libera per terras unde haec animantibus exstat,
unde est haec, inquam, fatis avolsa voluntas,
per quam progredimur quo ducit quemque voluptas,
declinamus item motus nec tempore certo
nec regione loci certa, sed ubi ipsa tulit mens?     260
nam dubio procul his rebus sua cuique voluntas
principium dat et hinc motus per membra rigantur.

Nonne vides etiam patefactis tempore puncto
carceribus non posse tamen prorumpere equorum
vim cupidam tam de subito quam mens avet ipsa?     265
omnis enim totum per corpus materiai
copia conciri debet, concita per artus
omnis ut studium mentis conixa sequatur;
ut videas initum motus a corde creari
ex animique voluntate id procedere primum,     270
inde dari porro per totum corpus et artus.

Nec similest ut cum inpulsi procedimus ictu
viribus alterius magnis magnoque coactu;
nam tum materiem totius corporis omnem
perspicuumst nobis invitis ire rapique,     275
donec eam refrenavit per membra voluntas.
iamne vides igitur, quamquam vis extera multos
pellat et invitos cogat procedere saepe
praecipitesque rapi, tamen esse in pectore nostro
quiddam quod contra pugnare obstareque possit?     280
cuius ad arbitrium quoque copia materiai
cogitur inter dum flecti per membra per artus
et proiecta refrenatur retroque residit.

Quare in seminibus quoque idem fateare necessest,
esse aliam praeter plagas et pondera causam     285
motibus, unde haec est nobis innata potestas,
de nihilo quoniam fieri nihil posse videmus.
pondus enim prohibet ne plagis omnia fiant
externa quasi vi; sed ne res ipsa necessum
intestinum habeat cunctis in rebus agendis     290
et devicta quasi cogatur ferre patique,
id facit exiguum clinamen principiorum
nec regione loci certa nec tempore certo.
De Rerum Natura, book 4, lines 877-906
Nunc qui fiat uti passus proferre queamus,
cum volumus, varieque datum sit membra movere,
et quae res tantum hoc oneris protrudere nostri
corporis insuerit, dicam ; to percipe dicta.     880
Dico animo nostro primum simulacra meandi
accidere atque animum pulsare, ut diximus ante.
inde voluntas fit; neque enim facere incipit ullam
rem quisquam, quam mens providit quid velit ante;
id quod providet, illius rei constat imago.     885
ergo animus cum sere ita commovet ut velit ire
inque gredi, ferit extemplo quae in corpore toto
per membra atque artus animai dissita vis est
et facilest factu, quoniam coniuncta tenetur.
inde ea proporro corpus ferit, atque ita tota     890
paulatim moles protruditur atque movetur.
praeterea tum rarescit quoque corpus, et aer
(scilicet ut debet qui semper mobilis extat)
per patefacta vent penetratque foramina largus,
et dispargitur ad partis ita quasque minutas     895
corporis. hic igitur rebus fit utrimque duabus,
corpus ut, ac navis velis ventoque, feratur.

Nec tamen illud in his rebus mirabile constat,
tantula quod tantum corpus corpuscula possunt
contorquere et onus totum converters nostrum.     900
quippe etenim ventus subtili corpore tenvis
trudit agens magnam magno molimine navem,
et manus una regit quantovis impete euntem
atque gubernaclum contorquet quolibet unum,
multaque per trocleas et tympana ponders magno
commovet atque levi sustollit machina nisu. 906
De Rerum Natura, book 4, lines 722-48
Nunc age, quae moveant animum res accipe, et unde
quae veniunt veniant in mentem percipe paucis.
Principio hoc dico, rerum simulacra vagari
multa modis multis in cunetas undique partir     725
tenvia, quae facile inter se iunguntur in auris,
obvia cum veniunt, ut aranea bratteaque auri.
quippe etenim multo magic haec runt tenvia textu
quam quae percipiunt oculos visumque lacessunt,     729
corporis haec quoniam penetrant per rara cientque
tenvem animi naturam intus sensumque lacessunt.

Centaurus itaque et Scyllarum membra videmus
Cerbereasque canum facies simulacraque eorum
quorum morte obits tellus amplectitur ossa,
orane genus quoniam passim simulacra feruntur,     735
partim sponte sua quae fiurIt aere in ipso,
partim quae variis ab rebuumque recedunt
et quae confiunt ex horum facts figuris.
nani certe ex vivo Centauri non fit imago,
nulla fuit quoniam talis natura animalis ;     740
verum ubi equi atque hominis casu convent imago,
haerescit facile extemplo, quod diximus ante,
propter subtilem naturam et tenvia texta.
cetera de genere hoc eadem ratione creantur.
quae cum mobilitar summa levitate feruntur,     745
ut prius ostendi, facile uno commovet ietu
quaelibet una animum nobis subtilis imago;
tenvis enim mens est et mire mobilis ipsa.

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