Operators in Nature, Science, Technology, and Society: Mathematical, Logical, and Philosophical Issues

Philosophies 2 (3):21 (2017)

Abstract

The concept of an operator is used in a variety of practical and theoretical areas. Operators, as both conceptual and physical entities, are found throughout the world as subsystems in nature, the human mind, and the manmade world. Operators, and what they operate, i.e., their substrates, targets, or operands, have a wide variety of forms, functions, and properties. Operators have explicit philosophical significance. On the one hand, they represent important ontological issues of reality. On the other hand, epistemological operators form the basic mechanism of cognition. At the same time, there is no unified theory of the nature and functions of operators. In this work, we elaborate a detailed analysis of operators, which range from the most abstract formal structures and symbols in mathematics and logic to real entities, human and machine, and are responsible for effecting changes at both the individual and collective human levels. Our goal is to find what is common in physical objects called operators and abstract mathematical structures, with the name operator providing foundations for building a unified but flexible theory of operators. The paper concludes with some reflections on functionalism and other philosophical aspects of the ‘operation’ of operators.

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References found in this work

The Specious Present: A Neurophenomenology of Time Consciousness.Francisco Varela - 1999 - In Jean Petitot, Franscisco J. Varela, Barnard Pacoud & Jean-Michel Roy (eds.), Naturalizing Phenomenology. Stanford University Press. pp. 266--314.
Causation and Manipulability.James Woodward - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Interactivist Model.Mark H. Bickhard - 2009 - Synthese 166 (3):547 - 591.

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