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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
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
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
 
Joseph Levine
Joseph Levine is a philosophy professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

He is a philosopher of mind famous for his (1983) insight into the difficulty that a physicalist theory has in explaining how material properties of a brain can account for the way things consciously feel when they are experienced. He called it the "explanatory gap."

Philosophers of mind ask how any objective physical process can ever account for our personal, internal, and subjective experiences, which they call "qualia."

Levine's "explanatory gap" is at the heart of what David Chalmers later (1996) called "the hard problem of consciousness."

Most simply put, the hard problem is a subset of the more general mind-body problem, which, since René Descartes, asks how an immaterial mind can have any causal connection with the material body, and vice versa.

This is a problem with dualisms that separate the world into matter (materialism) and ideas (idealism). Pure idealists deny the existence of matter. Materialists reduce mental states to physical states. Eliminative materialists deny the existence of conscious minds. Behavioral psychologists identify the mind with the brain.

The first philosophers to argue for an identity of mind (or consciousness) and the brain include Ullin T. Place (1956), Herbert Feigl (1958), and J.J.C.Smart (1959).

Place explicitly describes "consciousness as a brain process," specifically as "patterns" of brain activity. He does not trivialize this identity as a succession of individual "mental events and physical events" in some kind of causal chain. He compares this identity to the idea that "lightning is a motion of electrical charges."

Herbert Feigl's work was independent of Place's, but he said that the fundamental idea had been held by many earlier materialist (monist) thinkers. He thought it was stated clearly by Rudolf Carnap in 1925. Feigl describes his own thesis:

The identity thesis which I wish to clarify and to defend asserts that the states of direct experience which conscious beings "live through" and those which we confidently ascribe to some of the higher animals, are identical with certain (presumably configurational) aspects of the neural processes in these organisms.

J.J.C.Smart clarified and extended the identity theory of his colleague U.T.Place

When I say that a sensation is a brain process or that lightning is an electric discharge, I am using "is" in the sense of strict identity. (Just as in the — in this case necessary — proposition "7 is identical with the smallest prime number greater than 5.") When I say that a sensation is a brain process or that lightning is an electric dis- charge I do not mean just that the sensation is somehow spatially or temporally continuous with the brain process or that the lightning is just spatially or temporally continuous with the discharge.

Levine criticizes these attempts to identify mind with or reduce it to brain processes.

On the one hand, it’s really hard to see how the reddish-orange character of seeing a sunset could be reducible to, or completely explicable in terms of, the neurological processes of the visual system. How does neural firing, no matter how complex, amount to a reddish-orange experience? On the other hand, analysing the qualitative character of experience in purely functional terms presents its own difficulties. Again, how does a formal property such as occupying a particular causal role or a point in a multidimensional space, amount to the seemingly quite concrete reddish-orange character of seeing a sunset? True, both traditional functionalism and psychoneural reductionism have their adherents,2 but their inadequacies are clearly felt by many philosophers.

Levine used Saul Kripke's sophisticated arguments in symbolic logic about the necessity of identity statements and Gottlob Frege's theory of reference and sense/meaning. He transformed Kripke's "metaphysical" argument into an epistemological argument.

In “Naming and Necessity” and “Identity and Necessity,” Kripke presents a version of the Cartesian argument against materialism. His argument involves two central claims: first, that all identity statements using rigid designators on both sides of the identity sign are, if true at all, true in all possible worlds where the terms refer; second, that psycho-physical identity statements are conceivably false, and therefore, by the first claim, actually false.

My purpose in this paper is to transform Kripke’s argument from a metaphysical one into an epistemological one. My general point is this. Kripke relies upon a particular intuition regarding conscious experience to support his second claim. I find this intuition important, not least because of its stubborn resistance to philosophical dissolution. But I don’t believe this intuition supports the metaphysical thesis Kripke defends — namely, that pyscho-physical identity statements must be false. Rather, I think it supports a closely related epistemological thesis — namely, that psycho-physical identity statements leave a significant explanatory gap, and, as a corollary, that we don’t have any way of determining exactly which psycho-physical identity statements are true. One cannot conclude from my version of the argument that materialism is false, which makes my version a weaker attack than Kripke’s. Nevertheless, it does, if correct, constitute a problem for materialism, and one that I think better captures the uneasiness many philosophers feel regarding that doctrine.

A decade before Levine's "Explanatory Gap," Thomas Nagel's famous essay "What It's Like to be a Bat" homed in on the subjective "feelings" that the bat is experiencing as "qualia." Nagel opposed all attempts to reduce consciousness and mental actions to material (or "physical") explanations. He wrote:

Consciousness is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong. The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophysical identification, or reduction...

Every reductionist has his favorite analogy from modern science. It is most unlikely that any of these unrelated examples of successful reduction will shed light on the relation of mind to brain... I shall try to explain why the usual examples do not help us to understand the relation between mind and body-why, indeed, we have at present no conception of what an explanation of the physical nature of a mental phenomenon would be. Without consciousness the mind-body problem would be much less interesting. With consciousness it seems hopeless...

Conscious experience is a widespread phenomenon. It occurs at many levels of animal life, though we cannot be sure of its presence in the simpler organisms...But no matter how the form may vary, the fact that an organism has conscious experience at all means, basically, that there is something it is like to be that organism...fundamentally an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism - something it is like for the organism.

We may call this the subjective character of experience. It is not captured by any of the familiar, recently devised reductive analyses of the mental, for all of them are logically compatible with its absence...Any reductionist program has to be based on an analysis of what is to be reduced. If the analysis leaves something out, the problem will be falsely posed. It is useless to base the defense of materialism on any analysis of mental phenomena that fails to deal explicitly with their subjective character... Without some idea, therefore, of what the subjective character of experience is, we cannot know what is required of physicalist theory...

The reason is that every subjective phenomenon is essentially connected with a single point of view, and it seems inevitable that an objective, physical theory will abandon that point of view...

I have said that the essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is like to be a bat...

In 1993, Levine replied to Nagel with an article "On Leaving Out What It's Like."

Among the reasons for doubting the adequacy of physicalist theories of the mind is the charge that such theories must “leave out” the qualitative, conscious side of mental life. One problem with evaluating this objection to physicalism is that it is not clear just what physicalist theories are being charged with. What is it for a theory to “leave out” a phenomenon? My project in this chapter is threefold: First, I want to clarify the anti-physicalist charge of “leaving out” qualia, distinguishing between a metaphysical and an epistemological reading of the objection. Second, I will argue that standard anti-physicalist conceivability arguments fail to show that physicalist theories “leave out” qualia in the metaphysical sense. But, third, I will also argue that these conceivability arguments do serve to establish that physicalist theories “leave out” qualia in the epistemological sense, because they reveal our inability to explain qualitative character in terms of the physical properties of sensory states. The existence of this “explanatory gap” constitutes a deep inadequacy in physicalist theories of the mind

References
Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64.4 (1983), pp.354-361.

Knowing What It's Like, in Privileged Access: Philosophical Accounts of Self-knowledge, ed. Gurtler, B., Routledge, 2003, pp.45-54.

On Leaving Out What It's Like, in The Nature of Consciousness, ed. Block, N., Flanagan, O., and Güzeldere, G, MIT Press, 1997, pp.544-555

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