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Michael,

I do not agree that the equation you draw between your statement and mine holds. I propose this one instead: You are saying 'apples' when you mean 'oranges'.

You said also:

'Meaning is a (possible) property of information. Not all information has meaning, but anything that has meaning is information.'

This is untenable. Rather: Information makes a meaning (a sense) when it finds uptake in your, my, someone else's comprehension. The three of us might contemplate the same information, and make three different meanings of it. (I.e. Each of us interprets/understands it with our own intellectual equipment.) So meaning cannot possibly be a 'property' of information.

The sentence: This is a sophisticated linguistic unit. To be a sentence, a sequence of words has to be capable of making sense, one sense, and the sense its user intends. Otherwise, that sequence is not a sentence: it is a failed attempt at constructing a sentence. So you see, it makes not sense at all to categorise a sentence as information. That is to confuse categories.

"meaning cannot possibly be a 'property' of information."

I'm glad you said that Sophie. Like Bruce, I prefer to think of meaning as a property of mind rather than a property of information. This is because I think that mind came first. But if mind is emergent, then it is not primary, and if it is not primary, then information invented itself from the vacuum. And I don't understand how that could be so.

"Otherwise, that sequence is not a sentence: it is a failed attempt at constructing a sentence. So you see, it makes no sense at all to categorise a sentence as information."

Sophie, I think we may be going around in circles here because we have different definitions of "information." Basically, by information I mean *anything that can be reduced to bits of data.*

A meaningful sentence is information, but so is a nonsense sentence like "My banana likes tennis." (Actually that sounds kind of dirty, now that I look at it.) Either string of words can be reduced to bits. So can nonsense words like "grootaplap." This made-up word means nothing, but it is still information, because it can be reduced to bits. It is presumably useless information, but still information.

A sunset is information; the atoms that make up the sunset can be reduced to bits of data. And of course the visual image of the sunset can be stored as data (a digital photo). The "meaning" of the sunset, if any, will depend on the observer.

A flower is information; its atoms can be (in theory) plotted out as coordinates on a graph and reduced to bits of data. The scent of a flower is also information; those atoms can be identified and digitally expressed as well. Again, any "meaning" connected with the flower or its scent will be subjectively added by the percipient.

A thought is information; it consists of words and symbols that can be reduced to bits. Awareness or consciousness is a stickier wicket. But the *content* of awareness, at least, can be reduced to bits.

To repeat - for me, anything that can be reduced to bits (ones and zeroes) is information. Other than consciousness and related issues like qualia, I can't think of anything in our world that is not at least theoretically reducible in this manner.

The fact that some of information is useless or meaningless is a side issue. Ambiguity of meaning is also a side issue. The information per se is not ambiguous, only its interpretation (meaning), which is frequently subjective or the product of a social consensus, as when we agree on what the word "table" means. Were we to agree on a meaning for "grootaplap," then it would be meaningful to us. In the absence of any agreement, "grootaplap" is not meaningful. But it is still information, and exists as such on the hard drive of my computer as I type this.

Michael,

'A meaningful sentence is information, but so is a nonsense sentence like "My banana likes tennis." (Actually that sounds kind of dirty, now that I look at it.)'

That is dirty. Well done! :)

1. A sentence makes a meaning because it is a sentence. If it does not make a meaning, it is not a sentence: it is a failed attempt at a sentence.
2. A sentence is not information. A sentence is evidence that its user has acted upon information to make something of it: a meaning/a sense, and is putting it to use to communicate with another mind, with any number of intentions.

'by information I mean *anything that can be reduced to bits of data.*'

Michael, why not just stop at 'by information I mean anything'? For what cannot be reduced to 'bits of data'? Or, try it backwards: Is information just bits of data? Why, then, do we need the concept 'information'?

And a flower is a flower with certain properties, as is a sunset, a thought, a sentence, etc. Those properties account for why each is itself. I simple cannot see the point of reducing everything to 'information' that is then reducible to 'bits of data'. Want sensible purpose does this reductionism serve?

Sorry, Michael: I cannot take your definition of information seriously. It is not only arbitrary, it is pointless and indefensible. It ignores the principles of any ontology I have ever brushed against. And it is without an ontology of its own. And, as I tried to show above somewhere, it is not even possible to construct a logical template for it. Why are you so keen on it?

Barbara,

'I prefer to think of meaning as a property of mind rather than a property of information.'

Exactly. There cannot be meaning without the agency of the mind. Mind makes meaning of whatever information it acts upon. It is nonsensical to think of meaning as a property of information: that posits that mind dispensable, since information is doing its job.

"Michael, why not just stop at 'by information I mean anything'?"

I could stop there, but I'm not sure everything can be reduced to bits of data. Awareness, qualia, and "meaning" may not be reducible that way.

As far as the issue of properties goes, I'd say that a property typically involves some interaction between an observer and an object. That doesn't mean the property is totally subjective. A flower's scent is inherent in the flower, even if smelling it requires a perceiver with a nose.

What's the point of saying that nearly everything is information? Well, it may or may not be a useful strategy, but my hope is that it will allow us to make more sense of things that are obscure or paradoxical now, like the double-slit experiments in physics and the existence of different planes of reality in metaphysics. After all, what do we mean by planes of reality? The usual answer has something to do with vibrations, but how much does this really tell us? OTOH, if we see vibrations (frequencies) as information (akin to the wave interference patterns of computer generated holography), then we might be able to dig deeper into this problem than we've done up to now.

"A flower's scent is inherent in the flower, even if smelling it requires a perceiver with a nose"

I think a lot of this discussion comes down a rehash of the old saw," if a tree falls in the woods....."

"The usual answer has something to do with vibrations, but how much does this really tell us? "

Agreed. Not much. It's not the best metaphor. Is there a better one?

So, we go back to the fundementals - our receiver model. We have a receiver and a tuner that determines what spectrum we recieve. The tuner, we can say, is set by where we focus our awareness, either deliberately by intent, by social training, because a drug or illness has caused a shift or some combination and/or becuase some spiritual or other outside influence has deflected our awareness (NDE as an example of this).

What are we receiving? Information seems like a valid answer.

Does information operate at differing levels of vibration or frequency? Most definitely "yes" concering things we know about, e.g. radio waves, partical waves, mircowaves, light waves, etc and probably true of things we don't scientifically "know about", e.g. the astral body.

The realm of potentially available information is hardly explored. Information may be infinite, or close to it. I say potentially because I think it is reasonabe to assume that there is some - perhaps much - information that is simply inaccessable to the human awareness regardless of where the tuner is set.

I do think that the human personality could be information. It is based on a set of experiences in time, A set of stored knowledge. Even a set of stored feelings that could, hypothetically, be somehow reduced to 1s and 0s (though I would be more analogue about that if pressed).

The part that I am stymied to find as being, even with the most generous definition, defined as Information, is the raw being behind the tuner. The thing that takes in information and assembles into into worlds and personality.

See, the worlds and personality are transient - the information is transient - depending on where the tuner/filter is set. Something, it seems to me, more constant and more primal than information must lie behind the scenes as the processor and user of the information.

Again, if you want to tell me that a personality can be reduced to bit and bytes and I'd say that I can see it in my imagination. But we still have to account for what lies behind the personality; that ineffible constant being and I think it is a challenge to describe it as information. It must be antecedent to information.

That's as far as I get with this :-)


Like "No One", it comes down to personal belief, hypothesizing that we don't know.

Personally it gels with me an intelligent mass (god ) who created, is likely to have a close and personal relationship with matter. Not only to create originally, but in an on going fashion.

If I look around, from elements to quantum physics, the universe seems open to be created with and changed.

If I ask of information from tarot cards, if seems to me some intelligence would have to select it. Rather than as I see it, I personally interact with the quantum level, altering the electrons, as the slit experiments light "becomes" a particle, I potentiate creation.

But, its all down to the personal, I guess.

Lyn.

Michael,

'... if we see vibrations (frequencies) as information (akin to the wave interference patterns of computer generated holography), then we might be able to dig deeper into this problem than we've done up to now.'

And you start digging where and for what? I give up now, Michael. But I cannot resist a comparison: John Searle is a philosopher of considerable renown, and apparently the only one left standing in the 'consciousness is a product of the brain' camp. He has proposed ditching the dualism approach, and proceeding instead with the assumption that consciousness is individual, and with looking to neuroscience for proof that the brain generates it. (That proof, he surmises, will be found in 50 – 100 years' time!)

It is not easy to see why he prefers this position to studying past and present phenomena that bear upon consciousness. That is no more easy to see than why you commend attention to frequencies, computer-generated holography, or whatever along these lines.

But, of course, that is only one thing you do. All your other activities, as this blog alone evidences, are pretty superbly focused and clear headed.

No one,

'Something, it seems to me, more constant and more primal than information must lie behind the scenes as the processor and user of the information.'

Very appealing! Can't that something be consciousnesses/minds?

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