Re: Information basics 2

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 09:00:07 +0100

Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 09:00:07 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: Information basics 2
In-Reply-To: <>

Joe E. Dees <> writes
>> OK. Of course, you can say that people in some sense "embody" the
>> information they use, but I'm using that word in a slightly more
>> restricted sense. Human bodies are physical things, and so embody
>> objective information. The information we use, though (or which uses
>> us), which is processed by our nervous systems, is subjective. I
>> wouldn't say we embody that, because our possession of it (or vice
>> versa) could be very fleeting.
>May I suggest that the distinction you are here seeking is that
>between presentation, an unmediated perception of the object
>itself, and representation, or a perception of a sign or symbol which
>stands for the object (mediates between the object and the

Thanks, but no. There is no "unmediated perception", just information,
in static form and in streams. Objective information (in absolute
terms) is wholly uninterpreted, being the form of physical reality:
matter (static) and energy (streaming). The sort of information we're
more familiar with, that (e.g.) arrives via telephone wires or ethernet
cables and is displayed on CRT or LCD screens, is subjective. (In
absolute terms, though it may be relatively objective compared to some
other item of subjective information.) It is "carried on the back of"
objective information, interpreted or decoded from it. The flow of
electricity is objective, the letters and numbers subjective. Radio
waves are objective, sound and pictures subjective because they depend
on a very particular form of processing being applied to the radio
waves, and without that processing, don't exist. All subjective
information requires such decoding, while objective information just
exists as is. The intentional stance is a form of decoding, a way of
interpreting what would otherwise be just an observation of sheer
physical behaviour. Memes are subjective, because they are always
encoded, whether in physical behaviour, books or brains.
Representations, references, signs, symbols are similarly all
subjective. What's absolutely objective is only what's actually "out
there" and physical -- any perception or representation of that, no
matter how accurate, is in absolute terms subjective. Absolutely
objective information is primarily a physicist's concept, and we only
need to consider it when comparing and contrasting with the subjective
sort, to better understand the latter.

Robin Faichney
Visit The Conscious Machine at

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