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 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
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
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

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
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
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
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
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Gilbert Lewis
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
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
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
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
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
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
 
Francis Crick

Francis Crick famously worked with James Watson to elaborate the double helix structure of DNA, the genetic basis of heredity.

In his later years he worked on the "mind-body problem" and what David Chalmers called the "hard problem" of consciousness.

He collaborated with neuroscientist Christoph Koch between 1990 and his death to develop a scientific theory of neurons that could describe the "neural correlates of consciousness." They proposed that consciousness involves very short-term memory processes that were as yet poorly understood. How can the brain become aware of the significance of a sensation within a few hundred milliseconds of an experience? He called this a "perceptual moment."

Crick was skeptical of "computational models" of the brain. He wrote...

What Christof Koch and I are trying to do is to persuade people, and especially those scientists intimately involved with the brain, that now is the time to take the problem of consciousness seriously...

Philosophers are right in trying to discover better ways of looking at the problem and in suggesting fallacies in our present thinking. That they have made so little real progress is because they are looking at the system from outside. This makes them use the wrong idiom. It is essential to think in terms of neurons, both their internal components and the intricate and unexpected ways they interact together. Eventually, when we truly understand how the brain works, we may be able to give approximate high-level accounts of our perceptions, our thinking, and our behavior. This will help us to grasp the overall per­formance of our brains in a more correct and more compact manner, and will replace the fuzzy folk notions we have today.

Many philosophers and psychologists believe it is premature to think about neurons now. But just the contrary is the case. It is premature to try to describe how the brain really works using just a black-box approach, especially when it is couched in the language of common words or the language of a digital programmable computer. The lan­guage of the brain is based on neurons. To understand the brain you must understand neurons and especially how vast numbers of them act together in parallel.

The reader might accept all this but could well complain that I have talked all around the topic of consciousness, with more specula­tion than hard facts, and have avoided what, in the long run, is the most puzzling problem of all. I have said almost nothing about qualia—the redness of red—except to brush it to one side and hope for the best. In short, why is the Astonishing Hypothesis so astonish­ing? Is there some aspect of the brain’s structure and behavior that might suggest why it is so difficult for people to conceive of awareness in neural terms?

I think there is. I have described the general workings of an intricate machine—the brain—that handles an immense amount of informa­tion all at once, in one perceptual moment. Much of the content of this rich body of coherent information is constantly changing, yet the machine manages to keep various running records of what it has just been doing. We have no experience (apart from the very limited view provided by our own introspection) of any machine with all these properties, so it is not surprising that the results of that introspection appear so odd.

The brain indeed has "stored" a vast amount of information, namely, all of its past experiences. But it does not "handle" all that stored information. In particular, it does nothing like "information processing" to "recall" information related to its current "experience," which is to say its immediate bundle of raw sensations.

Crick's qualia (plural of quale) are what Thomas Nagel described in his famous essay "What is it like to be a bat?," namely to experience "redness" or what Koch called "the feeling of life itself," namely having an emotional reaction to sensations. Antonio Damasio calls this "the feeling of what happens."

How sensations immediately give rise to "awareness," "significance," and "meaning," including our emotional reactions to an experience, is explained by our Experience Recorder and Reproducer.

Crick on Free Will
My first assumption was that part of one’s brain is concerned with making plans for future actions, without necessarily carrying them out. I also assumed that one can be conscious of such plans—that is, that they are subject at least to immediate recall.

My second assumption was that one is not conscious of the “com­putations” done by this part of the brain but only of the “decisions” it makes—that is, its plans. Of course, these computations will depend on the structure of that part of the brain (derived partly epigenetically and partly from past experience) and on its current inputs from other parts of the brain.

My third assumption was that the decision to act on one plan or another is also subject to the same limitations. In other words, one has immediate recall of what is decided but not of the computations that went into the decision, even though one may be aware of a plan to move.

Then, such a machine (this was the word I used in my letter) will appear to itself to have Free Will, provided it can personify its behav­ior—that is, it has an image of “itself.”

The actual cause of the decision may be clear cut (Pat [Churchland]’s addition), or it may be deterministic but chaotic—that is, a very small perturba­tion may make a big difference to the end result. This would give the appearance of the Will being “free” since it would make the outcome essentially unpredictable. Of course, conscious activities may also influence the decision mechanism (Pat's addition).

Such a machine can attempt to explain to itself why it made a cer­tain choice (by using introspection). Sometimes it may reach the cor­rect conclusion. At other times it will either not know or, more likelv will confabulate, because it has no conscious knowledge of the “rea­son” for the choice. This implies that there must be a mechanism for confabulation, meaning that given a certain amount of evidence, which may or may not be misleading, part of the brain will jump to the sim­plest conclusion. As we have seen, this can happen all too easily.

This concluded my Theory of Free Will. It obviously depends upon understanding what consciousness is about (the main topic of this book [The Astonishing Hypothesis]), how the brain plans (and carries out) actions, how we confabu­late, and so on. I doubt if there is anything really novel in all this although some of the details may not have been included in previous explanations.

Normal | Teacher | Scholar