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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
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
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
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
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
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A. O. Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Mark Hadley
Patrick Haggard
J. B. S. Haldane
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
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
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
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
Adolphe Quételet
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
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
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Giulio Tononi
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
Stephen Wolfram
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
J. B. S.Haldane
J. B. S. Haldane made great contributions to physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and statistics.

He pioneered theories of the origin of life as a chemical process and proposed the idea of a "primordial soup" in which inorganic chemicals might evolve to become living.

He wrote on "What Is Life?"

I am not going to answer this question. In fact, I doubt if it will ever be possible to give a full answer, because we know what it feels like to be alive, just as we know what redness, or pain, or effort are. So we cannot describe them in terms of anything else. But it is not a foolish question to ask, because we often want to know whether a man is alive or not, and when we are dealing with the microscopic agents of disease, it is clear enough that bacteria are alive, but far from clear whether viruses, such as those which cause measles and smallpox, are so.

So we have to describe life in terms of something else, even if the description is quite incomplete. We might try some such expression as "the influence of spirit on matter." But this would be of little use for several reasons. For one thing, even if you are sure that man, and even dogs, have spirits, it needs a lot of faith to find a spirit in an oyster or a potato. For another thing, such a definition would certainly cover great works of art, or books which clearly show their author's mind, and go on influencing readers long after he is dead. Similarly, it is no good trying to define life in terms of a life force. George Bernard Shaw and C. E. M. Joad think there is a life force in living things. But if this has any meaning, which I doubt, you can only detect the life force in an animal or plant by its effects on matter. So we should have to define life in terms of matter. In ordinary life we recognise living things partly by their shape and texture. But these do not change for some hours after death. In the case of mammals and birds we are sure they are dead if they are cold.

This test would not work on a frog or a snail. We take it that they are dead if they will not move when touched. But in the case of a plant the only obvious test is whether it will grow, and this may take months to find out. All these tests agree in using some kind of motion or change as the criterion of life, for heat is only irregular motion of atoms. They also agree in being physical rather than chemical tests. There is no doubt, I think, that we can learn more about life from a chemical than from a physical approach. This does not mean that life has been fully explained in terms of chemistry. It does mean that it is a pattern of chemical rather than physical events.

This fits with our definition of life as information structures, but leaves out the critical role of information communication between the components of a living thing.
What is common to all life is the chemical events. And these are extraordinarily similar in very different organisms. We may say that life is essentially a pattern of chemical happenings, and that in addition there is a building of a characteristic shape in almost all living things, characteristic motion in most animals, and feeling and purpose in some of them. The chemical make-up of different living things is very different. A tree consists largely of wood, which is not very like the constituents of a man,though rather like a stuff called glycogen which is part of most, if not all, of our organs. But the chemical changes which go on in the leaves, bark, and roots of a tree, particularly the roots, are surprisingly like those which go on in human beings. The roots need oxygen just as a man does, and you can see whether a root is alive, just as you can see whether a dog is alive, by measuring the amount of oxygen which it consumes per minute. And the oxygen is used in the same kinds of chemical processes, which may roughly be described as controlled burning of foodstuffs at a low temperature. Under ordinary circumstances oxygen does not combine with sugar unless both are heated. It does so in almost all living things through the agency of what are called enzymes. Most of the oxygen that we use has to first unite with an enzyme consisting mainly of protein, but containing a little iron. Warburg discovered this in yeast in 1924. In 1926 I did some rather rough experiments which showed the same, or very nearly the same, enzyme in green plants, moths, and rats. Since then it has been found in a great variety of living things.

Just the same is true for other processes. A potato makes sugar into starch and your liver makes it into glycogen by substantially the same process. Most of the steps by which sugar is broken down in alcoholic fermentation and muscular contraction are the same. And so on. The end results of these processes are of course very different. A factory may switch over from making bren guns to making sewing machines or bicycles without very great changes. Similarly the chemical processes by which an insect makes its skin and a snail its slime are very similar, though the products differ greatly.

In fact, all life is characterised by a fundamentally similar set of chemical processes arranged in very different patterns. Thus, animals use up foodstuffs, while most plants make them. But in both plants and animals the building up and the breaking down are both going on all the time. The balance is different.

Engels said that life was the mode of existence of proteins (the word which he used is often translated as "albuminous substances"). This is true in so far as all enzymes seem to be proteins. And it is true in so far as the fundamental similarity of all living things is a chemical one. But enzymes and other proteins can be purified and will carry on their characteristic activities in glass bottles. And no biochemist would say they were alive.

In the same way Shakespeare's plays consist of words, whereas words are a very small part of Eisenstein's films. It is important to know this, as it is important to know that life consists of chemical processes.

This pattern has special properties. It begets a similar pattern, as a flame does, but it regulates itself as a flame does not except to a slight extent. And, of course, it has many other peculiarities. So when we have said that life is a pattern of chemical processes, we have said something true and important.

But to suppose that one can describe life fully on these lines is to attempt to reduce it to mechanism, which I believe to be impossible. On the other hand, to say that life does not consist of chemical processes is to my mind as futile and untrue as to say that poetry does not consist of words.

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