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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
Nancy Cartwright
Gregg Caruso
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
Austin Farrer
Herbert Feigl
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Bas van Fraassen
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
Frank Jackson
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
Joseph Levine
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
Arthur O. Lovejoy
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

David Albert
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
Jean Bricmont
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Sadi Carnot
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Rudolf Clausius
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
George F. R. Ellis
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
Basil Hiley
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
Don Howard
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
E. T. Jaynes
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Daniel Koshland
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Gilbert Lewis
Benjamin Libet
David Lindley
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
Owen Maroney
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
N. David Mermin
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
Lord Rayleigh
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Sebastian Seung
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Abner Shimony
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
Richard von Mises
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Herman Weyl
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
 
The Ergodic Problem

The ergodic problem or the problem of ergodicity has a long history going back to Ludwig Boltzmann's development of statistical mechanics.

Today ergodic theory is a set of formal problems in mathematics arising from the dynamics of deterministic and continuous classical mechanics. It is concerned with the path of a hypothetical infinitesimal particle in 6-dimensional phase space, or in the 6N-dimensional path of N particles.

The "ergodic hypothesis" originated with Boltzmann and was used by J. Willard Gibbs and Albert Einstein to replace time averages over the motions of a single dynamical system with average properties of an "ensemble" of identical systems, sometimes loosely described as replacing time averages with "space" averages.

The ergodic problem is intimately connected to the problems of reversibility and recurrence raised by 19th-century critics of Boltzmann's theorem about the increase of thermodynamic entropy.

Information philosophy suggests the solution to this difficult problem is to use indeterministic and discrete quantum physics to consider what happens when material particles approach one another.

The phenomenological thermodynamics of Carnot and Clausius uses only macroscopic continuous variables like pressure, volume, temperature, and chemical potentials to discover entropy.

The statistical mechanics of Boltzmann and James Clerk Maxwell studies the possible distributions of N particles in the 6N dimensions of their phase space. It usually studies gases in an equilibrium state to derive all the results of classical thermodynamics.

Maxwell was first to calculate the distribution of velocities (and therefore energies) of "ideal gas" particles. In an "ideal gas" we assume collisions between particles are "elastic." All energy is in the kinetic energy of the moving particles.

Boltzmann's kinetic theory of gases analyzes the statistics of collisions between gas particles to draw conclusions about systems that may be distant from equilibrium. Boltzmann neglected any three-particle collisions on the assumption that even two-particle collisions are rare.

Boltzmann's transport equation analyzes the flow of particles in and out of a certain volume. He studied two-particle collisions and assumed that after the collision there was no correlation with the paths and velocities before the collisions. He called this assumption "molecular chaos" or "molecular disorder" (molekular geordnet).

It uses the Liouville theorem that the phase-space distribution function is constant along the trajectories of the system. The phase space distribution ρ (p,q) determines the probability ρ (p,q)dqdpthat the system will be found in the infinitesimal phase space volume dqdp. The density of system points in the vicinity of a given system point traveling through phase-space is constant in time.

Statistical mechanics assumes a priori probabilities give us the density. The underlying mechanics is the classical mechanics of Newton.

Loschmidt's Paradox

In 1874, Josef Loschmidt criticized his younger colleague Ludwig Boltzmann's 1866 attempt to derive from basic classical dynamics the increasing entropy required by the second law of thermodynamics.

Increasing entropy is the intimate connection between time and the second law of thermodynamics that Arthur Stanley Eddington later called the Arrow of Time. (The fundamental arrow of time is the expansion of the universe, which makes room for all the other arrows.) Despite never seeing entropy decrease in an isolated system, attempts to "prove" that it always increases have been failures.

Loschmidt's criticism was based on the simple idea that the laws of classical dynamics are time reversible. Consequently, if we just turned the time around, the time evolution of the system should lead to decreasing entropy. Of course we cannot turn time around, but a classical dynamical system will evolve in reverse if all the particles could have their velocities exactly reversed. Apart from the practical impossibility of doing this, Loschmidt had shown that systems could exist for which the entropy should decrease instead of increasing. This is called Loschmidt's "Reversibility Objection" (Umwiederkehreinwand) or "Loschmidt's paradox." We call it the problem of microscopic reversibility.

Zermelo's Paradox
Zermelo's paradox was a criticism of Ludwig Boltzmann's H-Theorem, the attempt to derive the increasing entropy required by the second law of thermodynamics from basic classical dynamics.

It was the second "paradox" attack on Boltzmann. The first was Josef Loschmidt's claim that entropy would be reduced if time were reversed. This is the problem of microscopic reversibility.

Ernst Zermelo was an extraordinary mathematician. He was (in 1908) the founder of axiomatic set theory, which with the addition of the axiom of choice (also by Zermelo, in 1904) is the most common foundation of mathematics. The axiom of choice says that given any collection of sets, one can find a way to unambiguously select one object from each set, even if the number of sets is infinite.

Before this amazing work, Zermelo was a young associate of Max Planck in Berlin, one of many German physicists who opposed the work of Boltzmann to establish the existence of atoms.

Zermelo's criticism was based on the work of Henri Poincaré, an expert in the three-body problem, which, unlike the problem of two particles, has no exact analytic solution. Where two-bodies can move in paths that may repeat exactly after a certain time, three bodies may only come arbitrarily close to an initial configuration, given enough time.

Poincaré had been able to establish limits or bounds on the possible configurations of the three bodies from conservation laws. Planck and Zermelo applied some of Poincaré's thinking to the n particles in a gas. They argued that given a long enough time, the particles would return to a distribution in "phase space" (a 6n dimensional space of possible velocities and positions) that would be indistinguishable from the original distribution. This is called the Poincaré "recurrence time."

Thus, they argued, Boltzmann's formula for the entropy would at some future time go back down, vitiating Boltzmann's claim that his measure of entropy always increases - as the second law of thermodynamics requires. Poincaré' described his view in 1890.

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