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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
 
Manfred Eigen

Manfred Eigen was a German biophysicist who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on fast chemical reactions. He received his doctorate in 1951. One of his advisors at Göttingen was Werner Heisenberg.

His major contribution to the origin of life was the idea of a chemical hypercycle, the cyclic linkage of reaction cycles as an explanation for the self-organization of prebiotic systems. This is a generalization of the citric-acid cycle at the heart of respiration in humans and in a slightly different form, all living things. Hans Krebs won the Nobel Prize in 1953 for his discovery of this and other related cycles (glycoxylate cycle and urea cycles).

The citric acid cycle provides the energy for metabolism, which some think may have been the first step in abiogenesis, the creation of life from non-living organic chemicals. Each step in the cycle involves a catalyst (an enzyme) that enables the step. At the end of the cycle, the fundamental energy-carrying molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate. or GTP, the guanosine equivalent) is released, providing the energy to drive all the biomachinery of a cell.

Eigen's hypercycle is autocatalytic, one of the handful of requirements cited as necessary for abiogenesis, the transition from non-life to living things.

In his 1987 book, Steps Toward Life (English edition 1992), Eigen laid out his ideas on the origin of life. They are important because Eigen explains why he denies Jacques Monod's "apotheosis of chance", and as a result Eigen denies the role of chance in Darwinian evolution itself.

He also tells us of the amazing insights of Thomas Mann anticipating molecular biology in his great book The Magic Mountain...

The title of this book can be taken in two ways. First, the steps alluded to might be those first steps that evolution took — or ascended — towards the lowest level of life. For biologists, this first level is the cell, the smallest unit of autonomous life, and thus a forerunner of the single-celled organisms alive today. Fossils have revealed that this first stage of life had long been passed three thousand million years ago. The pre-cellular phase, which cannot have taken longer than the first thousand million years of our planet’s existence, was astoundingly rich in invention and innovation. The most recent thousand million years have been no less extravagant: during this time, Nature has poured over the Earth a seemingly infinite wealth of species out of the cornucopia of evolution. So the fact that evolution is continuous in no way implies that it proceeds at an unchanging rate. Changes are prepared gradually, and then, suddenly, they break through and raise development to a new level. The transformation occurs sometimes in small steps, and sometimes in jumps which express a successful adaptation and often a completely new principle of operation.

This leads us on to the second possible interpretation of our title: steps which we ourselves take towards an understanding of the processes of life. Our insight also develops in steps on the large and on the small scale. This aspect is in fact the main aim of this book, that is, to make the principles of evolution clear and comprehensible, and to incorporate them into a unified physical world-view. Molecular biology, which arose in the middle of this century' from the disciplines of biochemistry and molecular structure determination, has gathered a momentum undreamed of at the outset of its short history. It is perfectly appropriate to speak of 'the era of molecular biology’. There is no shortage of excellent descriptions of this modem subject, with all its discoveries and the insight it has gained into structures and reaction mechanisms in biology. The only thing lacking in this new knowledge is its integration into a general understanding of Nature.

So far, such an attempt has been undertaken only once, by Jacques Monod. This was a fascinating and ambitious attempt, in which Monod did not shrink from drawing philosophical conclusions. It culminated in an apotheosis of chance. According to Monod, life can only be understood existentially. It can of course be reconciled with the laws of Nature, but it cannot be deduced from them. It is a pure creation from the nothingness of chance, not the revelation of a plan embodied in natural law.

Here Eigen makes plain his rejection of ontological chance.
If it really were to emerge that there is only ‘pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution’, then this book would be superfluous. Our only task would be to report bald facts, dates, structures, and mechanisms. This would relegate biology to an existential enclave in the world-edifice of physics.

This book takes up the theme of Monod, whose plain language put many issues into clear perspective. But we shall not persist in proclaiming the omnipotence of chance, which has ruled over physics on the microscopic level ever since Maxwell and Boltzmann.

In his inaugural lecture at the University of Zurich in December 1922, Erwin Schrödinger declared: ‘Physical research has shown clearly and unambiguously that for at least the vast majority of physical processes, whose regularity and reproducibility have led to the postulate of general causality, the common root of their strict, law-like behaviour— is chance.' These were the years before the Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics established chance as one of the foundations of physics. In biology, chance is reflected even at the macroscopic level: ‘selection’ implies that single, elementary events, determined by chance, are amplified autocatalytically up to visible numbers. None the less, law-like principles are also at work, and these are reflected just as much in the phenomena regarded as typically biological as in those associated with classical physics.

The arguments to be put forward here are based upon exact mathematical models and upon experimental studies of biological material. This book is intended to communicate new discoveries. The reason for its being written is similar to that for the writing of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Darwin’s view is accepted, just as the role of chance is accepted. However, this role will be interpreted in a way quite different from that current in biology.

The starting point for our discussion will be the epoch-making discovery made in 1953 by Francis H. C. Crick and James D. Watson, which ushered in the era of molecular biology. This was not so much the first description of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), based upon X-ray analysis, as the recognition that DNA is the molecule of heredity and that its structure holds the key to the understanding of heredity’s molecular mechanism. The long-sought- after transition from chemistry to biology had been found. DNA is in itself a chemical substance, yet it is more than just a large molecule. By virtue of its chemical nature, DNA is an information store. This property, which goes beyond mere chemistry, is the determining force for everything else in biology. We shall come to discuss this in detail, even though this book is not intended as an introduction to molecular biology. Neither is it intended to describe the whole of evolution. Our performance will show just one act of this grand spectacle, the act spanning the period from the first nucleic acid molecules to the first cell, the period during which the transformation of inanimate to living matter took place. Ten chapters are dedicated to this ‘day of creation’, a day that lasted some five hundred million years. Each chapter is preceded by a quotation from the novel The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain appeared in 1924, when molecular biology was unheard of. So what is the relevance of these quotations?

This collection, selected and compressed, will convey the impression — perhaps more strongly than does the chapter ‘Research’ in The Magic Mountain — that Thomas Mann clearly occupied himself in great depth with the question that makes up the central theme of this book. It is that of the transformation of ‘that nature, which did not even deserve to be called dead, because it was inorganic’ into the ‘simplest living organism’. And the reader will notice that Thomas Mann’s reflections about life represent more than an aesthetic, literary counterpoint to the tenor of this book. In the person of Hans Castorp, who dissects the living organism into smaller and smaller parts, Mann searches for the smallest living entities below the level of the living cell. ‘Those were the genes’. But, he asks, can their ‘elementary nature be established’? What do they look like ‘after yet more light on the subject [is] forthcoming’? Mann reaches the conclusion that genes cannot be elementary structures in the chemical sense, but must in turn themselves have been assembled. In the manner of Hegelian dialectic, he sets up a contradiction, with the thesis that the elementary particles of life, genes, ‘if they determine the order of life, ... must be organized’ set against the antithesis that ‘if they were organized, then they could not be elementary, since life depended upon organization’. He proceeds to resolve the contradiction with the synthesis: ‘however impossibly small they were, they must themselves be built up, organically built up, with the order of life’. He even says what they were made of: ‘molecular groups, which represented the transition between vitalized organization and mere chemistry’.

All this Thomas Mann wrote, as his diaries show, in 1920. Since 1953, we have known how genes are built up, and how, within them, the transition from inanimate matter to the ‘blueprint of life’ takes place. The sub-units of genes are ‘elementary’ molecular groups in the chemical sense, chemical units. Only when they are linked up in the DNA molecule does a new, life-specific quality arise: information. Indeed, DNA is equipped with the most conspicuous properties of life. It has a memory, it can reproduce itself, it can mutate during reproduction and thus adapt itself by evolution, and by virtue of the metabolism of the cell it is prevented from sinking into a state of chemical equilibrium, which would exclude the possibility of life. This little unit of life, says Mann, 'far below microscopic size’ can grow spontaneously ‘according to the law that each could bring forth only after its kind’, and it possessed ‘the property of assimilation’ (adaptation) — all of these ‘characteristics of life’. Any of these quotations would befit the title-page of a modem textbook of molecular biology.

In his chapter How does information arise?, Eigen makes a clearconnection between
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