Re: data, information and knowledge

From: Dace (
Date: Mon 30 May 2005 - 19:00:01 GMT

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    > - --- Robin Faichney <> wrote:
    > > Hi Scott, not sure about your concept of
    > > "infocentrism", because,
    > > though I absolutely agree that context is very often
    > > neglected, it too
    > > can be understood in terms of information: it can be
    > > considered the
    > > key that decodes the "central" information, be that
    > > DNA or whatever.
    > > For instance, Wittgenstein's "language game" is the
    > > key that unlocks
    > > the meaning of any utterance.
    > >
    > > I have my own take on information, discussed here
    > > way back but not
    > > recently. I'll restrain myself to mentioning the
    > > website for now:
    > >, where mmmi stands for mind, matter,
    > > meaning and
    > > information.
    > >
    > Wow! Haven't seen you post here in a LONG time.
    > Welcome back.
    > Though I see reduction as helpful, it can be taken too
    > far. In the argument of mind and brain I'm a hardcore
    > mindbrain monist after Paatricia Chruchland, so I can
    > be considered a hardcore reductionist when it comes to
    > the topic of mindbrain. I've no truck with dualism and
    > have decided, after reading Churchland, that Popper's
    > three world plurality is probably a dead end too.

    Patricia Churchland may think she's a monist, but she's not. Reductionism was devised by Descartes and, not surprisingly, is inherently dualistic. It's not just the parts that a machine (or a brain) is reduced to; it's the laws of physics that govern those parts. Unlike many current philosophers, Descartes was smart enough to realize that consciousness can't simply be eliminated. If we claim it's an illusion, then we're faced with the insoluble conundrum of what, precisely, is experiencing this illusion. Why, consciousness, of course! So Descartes was a dualist, and his reductionistic methodology was perfectly in keeping with that dualism. Yes, we reduce the object to its parts and those parts to their parts and so on, but at every stage, the universal laws of physics that govern those parts are just as important as the parts themselves. Following the terminology coined by cell biologist Stephen Rothman, the "microreductionism" to the parts is always accompanied by the "macroreductionism" to the physics of the parts.

    A truly monistic conception of the mind-brain means recognizing right off the bat that there's no stand-alone "mind" to reduce to brain (and brain to neuron, etc.) any more than there's a stand-alone "brain" to reduce to mind. A brain is not like a human artifact. A car, for instance, is manufactured through external forces and exists whether or not anyone's inside it driving around. But a brain is not manufactured and does not come into being except in the context of mind.

    Mind and brain are one and the same, and the reason it appears as two has nothing to do with its instrinsic nature but simply the way we perceive it. Because mind-brain is essential to what we are, we can perceive it from within, i.e. as mind, but like anything else, we can also approach it from the external point of view, i.e. brain. Since memes are an aspect of our internal existence, to say that memes exist in brains is to reduce oneself to babbling incoherence. The statement literally has no meaning. Memes exist in minds, not brains, because "mind" is our word for mind-brain when we're coming at it from the internal point of view.

    To say that mind is the flipside of brain is simply to say that brains exist intrinsically. Unlike a car, which only has ordinary existence, a brain has self-existence. This is why "the self" keeps popping up in studies of life and culture. It's not just some meme conjured up from the folds of the cerebrum (a nonsensical notion on the face of it) but the intrinsic reality of that cerebrum.

    Had enough?

    Alright, back to holiday.


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