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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
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
Isaiah Berlin
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
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
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
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
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
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
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
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
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
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
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
 
The Good
The Idea of the Good began with Plato, the philosopher who first defined the notion of abstract Ideas in his Theory of Forms. At the end of Book VI of the Republic (509D-513E), Plato describes what he called a "divided line," at the top of which is the "Form of the Good."

Theories (noesis)

Hypotheses (dianoia)

Techniques (pistis)

Stories (eikasia)

Plato describes the visible world of perceived physical objects and the images we make of them (in our minds and in our drawings, for example). The sun, he said, not only provides the visibility of the objects, but also generates them and is the source of their growth and nurture. Many primitive religions identify the sun with God, for good reason.

Beyond this visible world, which later philosophers (esp. Immanuel Kant) would call the phenomenal world, lies an intelligible world (that Kant calls noumenal). The intelligible world is (metaphorically) illuminated by "the Good" (τον ἀγαθὸν), just as the visible world is illuminated by the sun.

Plato's Line is also a division between Body and Mind. The upper half of the divided line is usually called Intelligible as opposed to Visible, meaning that it is "seen" by the mind (510E). Illuminated by "the Good," it is seen by the Greek Nous (νοῦς), rather than by the eye.

The division of Plato's Line between Visible and Intelligible is then a divide between the Material and the Ideal, the foundation of most Dualisms. Plato may have coined the word "idea" (ἰδέα), using it somewhat interchangeably with the Greek word for shape or form (εἶδος). The word idea derives from past participle in Greek for "to have seen."

In many ways, Plato's theory of immaterial forms existing outside space and time and providing the shape of material things is consonant with information philosophy's focus on immaterial information as the basis for thought, for mind, for knowledge, and for the abstractable elements of information structures in the real world. Plato's distinction between Form and Matter stands at the beginning of the great dualism between Idealism and Materialism.

Information philosophy is a return to a kind of Idealism. It situates the Good in the Platonic realm of Ideas, which we now recognize as immaterial information. And it shows how immaterial ideas can have causal force in the world of matter and energy, solving the Mind-Body problem, among others.

Now the Good in an information structure such as a material thing, a living thing, or a complex situation including many things, can in principle be calculated as the quantitative amount of negative entropy that it contains. Perhaps it is equally easy to see the Bad in something by measuring its destructive force. Think of the evil in a thermonuclear weapon, whose only use is to destroy a city and its population.

But it is plain that no single monotonic value can decide between the goodness of two things, since values are deeply context dependent. Indeed, Kenneth Arrow's theorem in economics shows that values are not strictly transitive. A can be preferred to B, B preferred to C, and yet C can be preferred to A.

Nevertheless, however imperfect it may be, information, or more generally negative entropy, provides an objective, human-independent, starting point for comparisons, without which all preferences are hopelessly subjective and relative to the individual or to the society. This is as it should be. Facts of the matter are questions for science. What should be or ought to be are cultural question for society or individual persons.

Free will is a scientific question. Moral responsibility is a cultural and conventional question for society. Nevertheless, those answering the conventional questions of right and wrong can consult the informational and entropic implications of different choices.

Consider utilitarianism, which hopes to achieve the "greatest good for the greatest number." The measure of utility in something correlates strongly with the amount of free or available energy (negative entropy) in that thing.

Evil
It is a sad but necessary observation to note that our definition of Evil as the creation of Entropy or Disorder - essentially the destruction of Information or Negative Entropy - may mean that the greater of dualistic forces at work in the universe is not the Cosmos but the Chaos.

The unavoidable Second Law of Thermodynamics, teh Entropy Law, has been confirmed in the kinetic theory of gases by Ludwig Boltzmann with his H-Theorem, and in statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics by Albert Einstein with his analysis of fluctuations in the entropy.

As the universe evolves, the increase in the total entropy, the disorder and chaos, is unstoppable. Fortunately, there are important places where the entropy is reduced locally, leaving behind information structures, pockets of negative entropy or cosmos.

The 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 think that means the universe began 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.

Creation of information structures means that in parts of the universe the local entropy is actually going down. Our Sun-Earth system is one such place. All life depends on the flow of negative entropy from Sun to Earth. Creation of a low entropy system (the Good) is always accompanied by radiation of entropy (the Bad) away from the local structures to distant parts of the universe, into the night sky for example and away through our transparent universe to the most distant cosmic microwave background.

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