[Fis] An Important Dialog

Xueshan Yan yxs at pku.edu.cn
Sun Jan 20 04:17:39 CET 2019

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 three points:

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.

Best wishes,



                             The main points of the arguments


Mark’s gist


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 different

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 including ethical
information or semantic information, for which meaning is the defining

Joseph’s gist


1. There is no role for the information what Mark stated, including
qualitative, non-measurable and/or non-quantitative one. It is a lower
ontological level.

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

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

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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