[Fis] IS4SI Meeting--Advancing a New Dialog
Pedro C. Marijuan
pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
Mon Feb 18 20:17:51 CET 2019
The Berkeley IS4SI 2019 event is approaching fast. I am re-sending the
announcement in a separate mail so that everybody, in the extent of
his/her possibilities, may help to disseminate it.
One of the subjects that some presenters will discuss, no doubt about
that, is the pertinence or plausibility of general or unifying theories
of information. I am copying below the message from Xueshan, some weeks
ago, summarizing some discussions between Mark and Joseph on that subject.
Of course, many other voices can be heard, and that is the gist of the
present message. To ad some piquancy, I cannot help but reminding the
quip attributed to von Neumann on Prigogine's general theory of
non-equilibrium systems, for him: "the non-elephant theory." Per Bak
picked the quip as follows:
/“…On the other hand, no general theory for large non-equilibrium
systems exists. The legendary Hungarian mathematician John Von Neuman
once referred to the theory of non-equilibrium systems as the “theory of
non-elephants” meaning there could be no unique theory of such a vast
area of science.” /(Per Bak, How Nature Works)
*[Fis] An Important Dialog*
yxs at pku.edu.cn
Dear FIS Colleagues,
A few days ago, among some of active IS4SI Board members, we have a very
constructive discussion about Mark Burgin’s General Theory of
Information (GTI, based on his book /Theory of Information:
Fundamentality, Diversity and Unification/, 2010), the discussion was in
progress mainly between Joseph and Mark and focused on the following
1. Is information a phenomena or a reality?
2. Are the mathematical methods Mark developed useful?
3. Where is the position of a GTI?
I have made a commitment that I will summarize the main arguments of the
discussion then. The following are the gist of them and please give
enough attention to.
*The main points of the arguments*
1. (My) GTI consists of two parts - ontology of information and axiology
of information. The mathematical component of this theory is mainly
ontological based on mathematical models of information as operators and
functors. The system of ontological and axiological principles of the
GTI provides unified foundations for information studies, though it is
difficult to understand.
2. Information is a phenomenon. It's neither quantitative nor
qualitative. It's people (and sometimes machines) who ascribe
qualitative or quantitative measures to information. My GTI does
acknowledge qualitative information but only existence of qualitative
and quantitative measures.
3. My GTI does not define Information in term of bit, bit is a unit of a
particular measure of information only in some special information theory.
4. My GTI defines information as a real essence. Although many think
that there are only one reality – physical things, actually there are
5. My GTI allows specification to all existing information theories. It
provides constructive tools for doing such specifications and building
special information theories without including these theories into its
6. The theories of Shannon, Fisher or Bar-Hillel, etc. are the varieties
of GTI, together all these theories form information science.
7. My GTI forms a unified foundation of information science and can be
used for studies of actually any kind of information includingethical
information or semantic information, for whichmeaning is the defining
1. There is no role for the information what Mark stated, including
qualitative, non-measurable and/or non-quantitative one. It is a lower
2. A GTI should not define information in terms of bit.
3. The question of “What information is” implies a substance rather than
dynamic process ontology.
4. If information is only a phenomenon, I cannot imagine a ‘measure’
operating on an appearance.
5. Mark’s GTI tries to explain “*What Information Is”* but without a
6. If information by Mark’s GTI consideration cannot be a process or
have processual characteristics, it cannot be ‘general’.
7. What Mark have defined is a THEORY OF GENERAL INFORMATION but not a
GENERAL THEORY OF INFORMATION.
8. Mark’s GTI extracts the general characteristics of information
processes independently of their substratum of physical (energetic)
properties, all of the mathematical aspects of what he has called a GTI
then apply to that abstraction, and a ‘meaning’ of those aspects exists,
it is tautological.
9. What is ontologically primary, then, are the phenomena that have
meaning – the information necessary for the survival of living beings
and for their reproduction.
10. According to Mark, Meaning will be the foundation of all theories of
11. And Mark’s GTI will become a Meta-Theory of Information, a theory of
Theories of Information.
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