[Fis] Shannonian Mechanics?

Loet Leydesdorff loet at leydesdorff.net
Wed Jun 29 14:40:06 CEST 2016

Dear Pedro and colleagues, 


The figure from Weaver in Loet's excellent posting leaves a few aspects
outside. The why, the what, the how long, the with whom, and other aspects
of the information phenomenon do not enter. By doing that we have
streamlined the phenomenon... and have left it ready for applying a highly
successful theory, in the technological and in many other realms
(linguistics, artif. intelligence, neurodynamics, molec. networks, ecol.
networks, applied soc. metrics, etc). Pretty big and impressive, but is it
enough? Shouldn't we try to go beyond?

In my opinion, “The why, the what, the how long, the with whom, and other
” are subject to substantive theorizing. The type of answers will
be very different when studying biological or other systems of reference.
But then the information is provided with meaning by these theories and we
discuss “meaningful information” as different from Shannon-type information.
There will in this case a dimension to the information. 


For example, when particles collide, there is exchange of momenta and
energy. The dissipation is then dimensioned as Joule/Kelvin (S = k H). In
chemistry one assumes a mass balance and thus a redistribution of atoms over
molecules, etc. The dimensionality of interhuman communication is hitherto
not specified.  

I wonder whether a far wider "phenomenology of information" is needed
(reminding what Maxine argued months ago about the whole contemplation of
our own movement, or Plamen about the "war on cancer"?). If that inquiry is
successful we could find for instance that:

This is not successful. It does not lead to a research program, but to
“philosophie spontanée des savant” (Althusser) as your comprehensive
question for “The why, the what, the how long, the with whom, and other
aspects” illustrates. The hidden program is biologistic:



“ESSENTIAL CORES” are discipline specific!

3. Those UNIVERSALS would be organized, wrapped, around an ESSENTIAL CORE.
It would consist in the tight ingraining of self-production and
communication (almost inseparable, and both information based!). In the
human special case, it is the whole advancement of our own lives what
propels us to engage in endless communication --about the universals of our
own species-- but with the terrific advantage of an open-ended communication
system, language.

4. Those UNIVERSALS would have been streamlined in very different ways and
taken as "principles" or starting points for a number of
disciplines--remembering the discussion about the four Great Domains of
Science. A renewed Information Science should nucleate one of those domains.

“Should” is an expression of uneasiness? In my opinion, the assumption of an
origin is problematic: order is not given (ex ante) and then branching, but
emerging (ex post) from disorder (entropy). Is “disorder” perhaps a
universal? In which specific system? (I would have a provisional answer/
hypothesis; but this is my second penny for this week.)




Best regards to all, 
(and particular greetings to the new parties joined for this discussion)

El 27/06/2016 a las 12:43, Marcus Abundis escribió:


Dear Loet,


    I hoped to reply to your posts sooner as of all the voices on FIS I
often sense a general kinship with your views. But I also confess I have
difficulty in precisely grasping your views – the reason for my delay.


>[while Shannon’s] concept of information (uncertainty) <

> is counter-intuitive. It enables us among other things <

> to distinguish between "information" and "meaningful <

> information". <

• Easily agreed; *how* to distinguish a presumed meaning (or
meaningless-ness) then becomes the remaining issue.


> Providing . . . meaning presumes the specification <

> of a system of reference; for example, an observer.< 

• It is telling for me (in viewing our differences and likenesses) that you
suggest an observer. My “system of relating“ accommodates but does not
require an observer (okay – observer, defined how?), as shown immediately


>Different[ly] . . . expected information is dimensionless<

> ("a priori"). <

• I suggest the act of “expectation“ already infers minimal dimensions – for
example, who/what/how is doing the expecting? Thus, in my view, this is not
truly a priori. A “readiness“ or a compelling functional need innate to any
“system of relating“ has bearing. For example, a single Oxygen atom has a
compelling/innate need to react with other elements, just as any agent is
compelled to react to “nutrients.“ Both imply dimensional expectations, no?
(obviously – of different orders/types).


> In my opinion, a "real theory of meaning" should enable <

> us to specify/measure meaning as redundancy / reduction <

> of uncertainty given . . . I took this further in . . . <

> The Self-Organization of Meaning and the Reflexive . . .<

• My weak grasp of the concepts in this paper leads me to think you are
actually modeling the “processing of meaning,“ related-to-but-distinct-from
“generating meaning“ that I target. I also vaguely recall(?) in an offline
exchange I asked you if you saw this paper as presenting a “theory of
meaning“ and you answered “No.“ 


• In your later response to Pedro, I found your citation matrix a
interesting example of your thinking, but still too “high-order“ for my
reductive-but-meaningful aim. Your matrix (for me) presents an essential
complexity of high-order views, but in itself it is too simple to detail
*how* a citation is *meaningfully used.* Still, an intriguing concept that
might be meaningfully expanded? Perhaps there are more useful details in the
additional papers you list, which I have not had a chance to explore.


• Your last post then reinforces my sense you are actually exploring the
processing of meaning, rather than the generation of meaning. Diverse
“systems of relating“ you name seem to be “on point“ and 

> can be considered as a semantic domain (Maturana,1978)<

But I find this unsatisfying as exactly *what(s)* is being related, and
exactly *how* it is being related, does not seem to be covered. It is in
precisely naming those “whats“ and “hows“ that true a priori models become
possible. For example, a *system of relating* between “a hominid and a rock“
affords certain types of meaning, equally a *system of relating* between
“the same rock and an ant“ affords wholly different types of meaning – all
in regards to an identical (autonomous) rock.

> the same information is delineated differently and <

> considered from a different perspective <

arguing for essential subjectivity? This seems to point to my use of delta O
and delta S in the video.


• I am unsure if we are in: radical agreement, radical disagreement, or if
we just name subtle differences. . . but I thought I should at least attempt
a reply to your posts and see what ensues. 

> In my opinion, the task is to specify mechanisms which <

> generate redundancy <

This leads me to believe we essentially agree but focus on different levels
of operation and complexity. Any thoughts you have to share are appreciated.








Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)
pcmarijuan.iacs en aragon.es
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