Philosophy Abstracts
Listed at Philpapers

References to WWW


Philosophy Papers with Abstracts

Chronological list of papers (etc.) by Ian J. Thompson (www.ianthompson.org)
See also list without Abstracts.
Philpapers Profile
List at philpapers

Journals & Book Chapters

  1. Two Ways of Looking at Time, Cogito 1 (Jan 1987) 4-6, pdf.
  2. The Nature of Substance, Cogito, 2 (1988) 17-19, pdf, html.
    Modern physics has cast doubt on Newton's idea of particles with definite properties. Do we have to go back to Aristotle for a new understanding of the ultimate nature of substance?
  3. Swedenborg and Modern Science, Network, 36 (1988) 3-8, pdf, html.
    This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772). Although he worked in the eighteenth century, his investigations into the nature of physical, physiological and spiritual processes are still relevant today, although they are not as widely known as they deserve. In this article, I will briefly describe the stages in Swedenborg's life, and outline his mature teachings with particular relevance to what is relevant to the concerns of contemporary science, and to the concerns of those wishing to extend that science.
  4. Real Dispositions in the Physical World, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39 (1988) 67-79, jstor, pdf and html.
    The role of dispositions in the physical world is considered. It is shown that not only can classical physics be reasonably construed as the discovery of real dispositions, but also quantum physics. This approach moreover allows a realistic understanding of quantum processes.
  5. The Consistency Of Physical Law With Divine Immanence, Science & Christian Belief 5 (1993) 19-36, html, pdf.
    A model is presented to show how the existence of physical law could be a reasonable consequence of Divine Immanence in the world of natural phenomena. Divine Immanence is seen as the continual production of the principal causes or dispositions which enable created things to act and change. It is argued that this model is physically consistent, philosophically coherent, and theologically sound.
  6. Are Quantum Physics and Spirituality related?, New Philosophy, 107 (2002)  333-355, html, pdf.
    Discussing questions concerning quantum physics and spirituality together is particularly valuable in order to see the connection between them from a New Church standpoint. An urgent reason for discussing this link is that some people want to identify these things. The feeling is widespread that somehow they are connected, but some "new age" people want to say that quantum physics tells us about spirituality. We know from Swedenborg that the connection is not quite so simple, so we need to understand in more detail what is going on.
  7. Discrete Degrees Within and Between Nature and Mind, 2008, html, pdf (a book chapter; google books)
    Examining the role of dispositions  (potentials and propensities) in both physics and psychology reveals that they are commonly derivative dispositions, so called because they derive from other dispositions. Furthermore, when they act, they produce further propensities. Together, therefore, they appear to form discrete degrees within a structure of multiple generative levels. It is then constructively hypothesized that minds and physical nature are themselves discrete degrees within some more universal structure. This gives rise to an effective dualism of mind and nature, but one according to which they are still constantly related by causal connections. I suggest a few of the unified principles of operation of this more complicated but universal structure.
  8. Derivative Dispositions and Multiple Generative Levels, 2011, in M. Suárez (ed.), Probabilities, Causes, and Propensities in Physics, Synthese Library, Springer, html, pdf.
    The analysis of dispositions is used to consider cases where the effect of one disposition operating is the existence of another disposition. This may arise from rearrangements within aggregated structures of dispositional parts, or, it is argued, also as stages of derivative dispositions within a set of multiple generative levels. Inspection of examples in both classical and quantum physics suggests a general principle of 'Conditional Forward Causation': that dispositions act 'forwards' in a way conditional on certain circumstances or occasions already existing at the `later' levels.

Online only

  1. Process Theory and the Concept of Substance, 1990, html.
    Since the failure of both pure corpuscular and pure wave philosophies of nature, process theories assume that only events need to exist in order to have a physics. Starting from an ontology of actual events, a dispositional analysis is shown here to lead to a new idea of substance, that of a `distribution of potentiality or propensity'. This begins to provide a useful foundation for quantum physics. A model is presented to show how the existence of physical substances could be a reasonable consequence of a theory of processes.
  2. Layered Cognitive Networks, 1990, html.
    An architecture is proposed in which connectionist links and pattern-directed rules are combined in a unified framework, involving the combination of distinct networks in layers. Piaget's developmental psychology is used to suggest specific semantic contents for the individual layers.
  3. Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness: A Causal Correspondence Theory, 1990, html.
    We may suspect that quantum mechanics and consciousness are related, but the details are not at all clear. In this paper, I suggest how the mind and brain might fit together intimately while still maintaining distinct identities. The connection is based on the correspondence of similar functions in both the mind and the quantum-mechanical brain.
  4. Dualism in Descartes and Swedenborg, 2004, draft html.
    Swedenborg used Descartes as a symbol of his desired resolution of the mind-body problem in favour of ‘spiritual influx’, but we see that Descartes’ position was substantially different in a number of ways. We consider a number of modern objections and puzzles about dualism, and how Descartes and Swedenborg each might respond.
  5. Pragmatic Ontology: Identifying Propensity as Substance, 2004, draft html.
    In a pragmatic approach to ontology, what is necessary and sufficient for the dispositional causation of events is interpreted realistically, and postulated to exist. This leads to a general concept of `substance', Aristotle's underlying `matter', as being constituted by dispositions, and not just being the 'bare subject' for those dispositions. If we describe the forms of objects according their spatiotemporal range, then this form is best viewed as a field, and substances themselves are best conceived as `fields of propensity'. With the help of such a concepts, we can try to understand some of the more mysterious quantum features of nature, such as the nature of 'measurements' and the reasonableness of `non-localities', not to mention the duality of wave and particle descriptions.
  6. Power and Substance, 2009, draft html
    An ontological extension of dispositional essentialism is proposed, whereby what is necessary and sufficient for the dispositional causation of events is interpreted realistically, and postulated to exist. This ‘generative realism’ leads to a general concept of ‘substance’ as constituted by its more fundamental powers or propensities appearing in the form of some structure or field. This neo-Aristotlean view is reviewed historically,  and in respect to quantum physics.


  1. Philosophy of Nature and Quantum Reality,  1993, html; Buy.
    The development a first-principles ontology for processes with only one generative level, and hence very simple compared with the multilevel structures here. It does, however, include a detailed description of the relations between potentiality and actuality, extensiveness and space, and how `being' remains constant during changes.
  2. Starting Science From God, 2011. Website for the book.
    Many of us these days sense there is something real beyond the scope of naturalistic science. But what? Must mental and religious lives always remain a mystery and never become part of scientific knowledge? In this well-argued book, physicist Ian Thompson makes a case for a 'scientific theism'. He shows how a following of core postulates of theism leads to novel and useful predictions about the psychology of minds and the physics of materials which should appear in the universe. These predictions constitute a kind of 'theistic science'. It meshes surprisingly well with the structure of reality already revealed by modern quantum field theory and by theories of developmental stages in human minds. The result is a serious look at a promising new rational structure encompassing theology, psychology and physics.


alongside (of course) many publications in theoretical nuclear physics.


Home: www.ianthompson.org Author: Ian J. Thompson, 2011. Email: IJT at ianthompson.org

Disclaimer: This website is not affiliated with any of the organizations or institutions at which Dr Thompson is employed and/or with which he is affiliated.