Re: Information

Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 21:18:11 BST

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    Subject: Re: Information
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    On 30 Apr 2001, at 14:05, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Sun, Apr 29, 2001 at 05:28:32PM -0500, wrote:
    > > On 29 Apr 2001, at 13:13, Robin Faichney wrote: > > > where the
    > topic of interest > > is the relationship between mind and matter, it
    > seems important to me > > to incorporate the latter, which I do by
    > using "information" as the > > concept is used in physics, and
    > differentiating that from the more > > common concept by prepending
    > "physical", thus: "physical information". > > This is material
    > structure. > > > All information is encoded in some physical
    > substrate, so your > addition of "material" is redundant.
    > Not so. Physical information, being material structure, is unencoded.
    > This distinguishes it from intentional information which is, as you
    > say, encoded in physical information.
    No, the isolated and nonrelational structure just sits there,
    informing no one. It becomes information when it informs
    someone. You are confusing pattern or configuration with
    information, which must be ameanable to informing.
    > > > > and reserve the term
    > > > > information for meaningful patterns, which, of course, would
    > > > > require someone for them to mean something TO.
    > > >
    > > > That's "intentional information".
    > > >
    > > Meaning is what people intend. Meaning-bereft intentionality is an
    > > empty set.
    > Did I say intentional information is meaning-bereft? I don't think
    > so!
    Then what is contained in the set "non-intentional information", the
    existence of which was implied by your addition of the adjective
    "intentional" to the term "information", as the reason for the
    necessity of the adjectival modifier?
    > But I'd have expected you to know the technical usage of
    > "intentionality", Joe. You've read The Intentional Stance, haven't
    > you?
    You betcha, and also his ELBOW ROOM: THE VARIETIES OF
    > The concept of intentionality originated in medieval philosophy, but
    > was revived by Franz Brentano (1838--1916). It is related to but
    > different from what is usually meant by ``intentional''. It can be
    > thought of as ``aboutness'', and Brentano suggested that it was the
    > ``ineliminable mark of the mental''. Our beliefs, for example, are
    > necessarily about something, and Brentano claimed that this is true
    > for all mental phenomena, and no physical phenomena: thoughts,
    > beliefs, desires, hopes, fears, loving, wondering, and expectation are
    > all about something: they take an object. This object need not
    > actually exist---we might be thinking about a unicorn, or Santa
    > Claus---but without some object, however imaginary, there is no
    > thought. (Quoted from
    > So intentional information is about something. This is, of course,
    > what the word "information" on its own usually signifies. What I'm
    > working on is the relationship between this sort of information and
    > matter. Of course the former is "encoded" in the latter, but how so,
    > exactly? The concept of physical information is useful as a bridge
    > between intentional information and matter. Of course, you might not
    > want to know about that, if it seems to threaten any of your present
    > certainties. Maybe you're one of those who think "going down with the
    > ship" is a virtue.
    Information is encoded in matter, and is about that which is other
    than itself (even in the case of recursion, recursive statements are
    about the relations of themselves to an other). It can only be about
    something if it can be about something TO/FOR SOMEONE;
    information must be capable of INFORMing, or it is not
    INFORMation, that is, it cannot be INFORMative. Information as a
    term implies someone who can be informed, that is, an intentional
    entity; thus the use of the term "intentional information" is, as I
    have said, redundant. Once again, your theoretical/linguistic ship
    is already sunk and on the bottom of the conceptual sea, and your
    confusion of information with pattern or configuration has gotten
    you all wet.
    > > > > One could, however,
    > > > > make the same or a similar case concerning the terms 'pattern'
    > > > > and 'configuration', and claim that all we can possibly say of
    > > > > objectivity without reference to an apprehending subjectivity is
    > > > > that it IS, or, in other words, that it exists as brute
    > > > > facticity.
    > > >
    > > > I think we can say rather more than that. This is what the hard
    > > > sciences are all about, isn't it?
    > > >
    > > No; whatever we learn about the universe holds meaning for us by
    > > virtue of its categorization of its object. And what you have in
    > > science is not objectivity, but intersubjective agreement based
    > > upon the perused and interpreted results of repeated experiments,
    > > conducted by multiple subjects, under controlled conditions.
    > I agree that science, in practice, is intersubjective. My point is
    > that it necessarily assumes an observer-independent reality, and what
    > it works with are patterns. For all even merely remotely practical
    > purposes, the stuff of science is real patterns.
    Actually, since the 1929 Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum
    physics, science has not been about building models of reality so
    much as it has been about correlation our perceptions. This is
    because the god's eye view which is a necessary correlate of the
    assumption that the apparent is identical to the real, rather than
    incompletely representing it as a part represents the whole, is an
    illusory assumption. It cannot assume the ultimate nature of that
    reality as a fact without foreclosing the possibility of further
    evidence and violating Popperian falsifiability.
    > I could go on to distinguish between "real patterns" and "realistic
    > patterns", but I think I'll leave that for another time. ;-)
    Feel free; the latter is bound to be a simulacrum, though.
    > > > And then there's the question of the reality of patterns. As I've
    > > > said, I follow Dennett in considering (some) patterns to be
    > > > entirely "real", where that means they exist independently of any
    > > > observer. See
    > > >
    > > The question is whether such patterns have meaning independent of
    > > us; they do not, as it is us who both derive meaning from being, and
    > > impose meaning upon it.
    > The question is whatever you, or (generically) one, feels like asking.
    > But as far as I'm concerned, meaning is irrelevant here, in precisely
    > the same way and for the same reason that atoms and molecules have no
    > meaning.
    Information is a meaningful entity; it has no existence for us unless
    we apprehend it, and if it can't INFORM, it's not INFORMation.
    Even existence itself is meaningful for us, inasmuch as it is
    opposed to nonexistence, so if brute facticity or meaningless being
    exists, it cannot exist for us; we cannot know of it - it is noumenal,
    not phenomenal. Brute facticity is not subject to pattern or
    configuration distinctions, for we make such distinctions, and bute
    facticity, or meaningless being, is prior to their imposition.
    > > In fact, an unapprehended pattern
    > > cannot be even said to exist, as we have no evidence of it.
    > If you are saying that unapprehended things in general do not exist, I
    > won't even bother to argue with such silliness. If your point is
    > about patterns in particular, I'll respond when you show some sign of
    > having read and considered the argument. (See
    I do not say that they don't exist, merely that, since we have not
    apprehended them, we cannot say that they do.
    > > > > Because of the previously mentioned hard problem of
    > > > > subjectifying the objective, or vice-versa. The term that
    > > > > information theory uses is 'compressibility'. Somethings may be
    > > > > symbolized or represented by more compressed maps than others,
    > > > > and this has a lot to do with the level of entropy contained in
    > > > > the referent. If entropy is total, that is, if pattern is
    > > > > completely absent, no compressibility is possible, and in
    > > > > general, the more ordered the referent is, the more compressible
    > > > > it is.
    > > >
    > > > You're a little confused there. At the most fundamental level, a
    > > > given stream of information's compressability has nothing to do
    > > > with what that information is about. The question is whether, and
    > > > if so to what extent, the number of bits can be reduced without
    > > > loss, i.e. allowing the original stream to be regenerated. A
    > > > perfectly random stream cannot be compressed at all. This is
    > > > discussed on the webpage mentioned above.
    > > >
    > > If you will reread what I wrote, I made no mention of a stream of
    > > information's particular semantic content.
    > What about "Somethings may be symbolized or represented by more
    > compressed maps than others", and "the level of entropy contained in
    > the referent" and "the more ordered the referent is"? This is a
    > computational issue in which reference plays no part.
    Information must be about something other than itself in general,
    but nonthing in particular; as I said, I made no pronouncements as
    to PARTICULAR semantic content. A carrier and a code cannot
    exist in the absence of a message; this is another one of those
    three-legged stools.
    > > Can a stream of
    > > information be about nothing at all? What could such a thing
    > > inform concerning?
    > You said it yourself: "If entropy is total, that is, if pattern is
    > completely absent, no compressibility is possible". You think an
    > information stream in which pattern is completely absent could be
    > about something? Your concept of information is obviously inadequate.
    In such a case, information does not exist, for information has to
    be ABOUT SOMETHING. My concept of information is not
    inadequate; your reading of the language is.
    > If you just accepted that you're not very well-informed about
    > information, that could be remedied quite quickly and easily. But
    > knowing you, Joe, that's never going to happen, is it? :-)
    You don't even understand the referential and intentional
    ramifications of the word, but fools often call others morons, and
    you are a shining, sterling case in point.
    > --
    > Robin Faichney
    > Get your Meta-Information from
    > (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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