[Fis] defining information. The Metaphilosophy and Metaphysics of Information. Communication

Joseph Brenner joe.brenner at bluewin.ch
Sun Mar 15 09:09:09 CET 2020

Dear Terry, Dear All,


As you know, over 10 years ago, Wu Kun presented the philosophy of
information as a metaphilosophy, since it subsumed all of the scientific,
technological and philosophical aspects of information. This is not a
proposal of one correct usage, but of common physical and metaphysical
principles underlying and/or instantiated by information. Information
involves both informing and being informed, which are physical ‘events’ with
metaphilosophical implications. The metaphysical aspects of information,
such as Terry’s most important concept of ‘absence’, have a key role in
answering our questions. I am thus becoming convinced that without a
transdisciplinary, philosophical and metaphilosophical framework, NO
primarily technological or first-order scientific approach will be adequate.
There is for me no epistemic cut between the Foundations of Information
Science and the Foundations of Information Philosophy. 


Terry correctly points to the importance of the RELATIONSHIPS between the
multiple definitions of information. The domains of study of
‘relationships’, as real and not abstractions, are both scientific and
philosophical and neither can be neglected at the expense of the other. Pace
Emanuel, not all that is real is palpable. One should not lose sight of the
fact that the definitions of information do not exhaust the properties of
information as a phenomenon, involving real physical change.  A serious
study of the complex relations involved in both information and its
definitions and their usage – interpretations - should take this into


I wrote above “Information involves both informing and being informed”.
Apart from my ‘label’ of these as processes, I now think that one cannot
talk about information (science and philosophy) without talking also about
communications (science and philosophy), which are both the same and
different. At one end of the scale of meaning (being?), computers
communicate, exchanging information (1), Floridian well-formed data. At the
other end, people talk to one another, exchanging information (2), which may
be ill-formed feelings. The latter, however, is ‘open’, in relation to all
the past, present and future of the human beings involved.


I hope the above will be useful, at least in part.


Best wishes,





From: Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] On Behalf Of Terrence W.
Sent: mardi, 10 mars 2020 21:20
To: Emanuel Diamant
Cc: Foundations of Information Science Information Science; Pedro C.
Subject: Re: [Fis] defining information


Dear FIS Colleagues,


My recent post was not intended to provide a definition of information.

But only to provide a framework to minimize the equivocation

that comes from uses of the term 'information' that make unmarked
assumptions about what one is assuming.

It seems obvious to me that the term is being used in mutually incompatible

by different FIS contributors, often with the implied claim that the
writer's use of the term 

is THE ONE CORRECT USAGE, when in fact there may be no single most useful

that works across all scientific and technical domains, not to mention the
social sciences and humanities.

I do believe that we will make more progress if we are clear about our
assumed definitions in our different contexts of use.

For example, as a neuroscientist who has also written about computer

I find that a good deal of confusion in cognitive science results from
assuming that we are talking about the same thing 

when using the term 'information' to talk about brain functions and
computational operations.

So I think that FIS could provide a service to many fields by working on an
information vocabulary

that helps to avoid these sorts of definitional equivocations;

i.e. not THE definition of information, but definitionS of information
within a framework that shows their relationships to one another.


Regards, Terry



On Tue, Mar 10, 2020 at 8:16 AM Emanuel Diamant <emanl.245 at gmail.com> wrote:


Dear Pedro, Dear FIS colleagues, 


I do not share the general excitement about the revitalization of the FIS
discussion on information definition. 

I am not sure that the principle of “three messages per week” or the ITHEA
Cloud Forum, with an  

unlimited number of posts and 1M-large attachments, is our main problem. I
think that our discussion (again and again) violates the basic principle of
any scientific discourse - the IF-THEN principle - according to which each
hypothetical assumption is followed by a suggestion what stems from it,
where, and how these expectations could be discerned and observed. If I
remember right, Terence and Gordana on several previous occasions have
addressed this issue, but their call has remained unanswered.

However, refreshing the definitions of information we cannot continue to
ignore the IF-THEN rule requirement - How does the defined information look
like, how it is represented, what is its real form? The proposed definition
of information must be followed by a suggestion of assets that make it (the
information) visible, tangible, palpable. 

Only this kind of information definitions is being urgently needed in the
worldwide Human Brain Research programme. Or in the overhyped global
Artificial Intelligence race. In both, Artificial Neural Networks (which are
data processing number crunching devices) are supposed to emulate human
brain biological neurons (which are pure information processing devices).
Both fail to fulfill their promises, but do not understand for what reason
and why. The current FIS discussion certainly will not help them.

Regards, Emanuel. 



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Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley

L'absence de virus dans ce courrier électronique a été vérifiée par le logiciel antivirus Avast.
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