In the interests of focusing on what I see as the main issues, I've
made quite a few deletions.

Monday, January 31, 2011, 3:26:06 PM, Stanley wrote:

> On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:42 AM, Robin Faichney <> 
> wrote:

>> I'm no mathematician, but I believe that the
>> broader  significance  of  Shannon's  work was a method of quantifying
>> "pure  pattern".  This  was  then  adopted  by physicists who saw that
>> material  form  can  be treated as pure patterns, and thus we get such
>> concepts as the conservation of "information" in quantum mechanics and
>> in  black  holes.

> Are 'pure patterns' three dimensional?

Sorry, but doesn't dimensionality depend upon interpretation?

>> I tend to feel the same way about "it from bit", but I think it should
>> perhaps  be  taken as implying that the idea of substance derives from
>> form,  which to me is highly plausible.

> So, "form" here is potentiality.  But where could this come from without some 
> constraints?

No, I said "the idea of substance". We actually encounter only form,
because that's what our senses convey -- but we find the concept of
substance useful.

>> Etymologically,  "information" is extremely closely related to "form",

> Strongly agree. Its function then is to constrain entropy production.

I understand form as a reconceptualisation of qualities, so for me it
does not have any particular function, but is rather an aspect of
material reality (albeit an extremely comprehensive one). The concept
of form as constraint I think might not apply to the lowest levels of
explanation, and might be limited to a subset of all qualities.
(Maybe, if it does not apply to the lowest level, it is necessarily
limited to a subset of qualities.)
>> and  the  concept  of  information  used in physics simply IS material
>> form,  where  that is generalised from shape to encompass all material
>> properties.  Just as past and future states of affairs are encoded in
>> the  present,

> I suppose this takes into account historicity?  Via statistics?

That snippet concerns physical determinism, not (directly) history,
statistics or any other higher level analysis.
>>  so  genetic  information  is encoded in DNA. Biological
>> information  is  just a subset of physical information. DNA molecules,
>> like  all  physical  entities,  encode  the  outcomes  of all of their
>> potential  interactions,  but  in  the  case  of  DNA the outcomes are
>> constrained by the cellular context.

> But we now know that there is a good deal of material manipulation
> and modification in between DNA code and protein complexes.  You
> could say that the DNA information is generic, while what emerges from 
> metabolism is particular.

You're right, I should have said "in the case of DNA the outcomes
are constrained by the cellular context as influenced by the extra-
cellular environment."

> I'm  currently  working  on  a paper in which I argue that intentional
> information   --   using   "intentional"   in  Brentano's  sense,  and
> encompassing  meaning  and  all  mental  content -- is best considered
> encoded  in  physical/biological  information,  being  decoded in use.

> But the DNA stuff is generic, use is particular.

I'm sorry that wasn't more clear. By "biological information" in that
case I meant not DNA but, primarily, brain structure and function,
which is obviously much more directly related to mental content.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 12:10:17 AM, Robert wrote:

>> On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:42 AM, Robin Faichney  
>> <>wrote:

> Dear Robin,

> I have always wondered what physicists meant when they talked about  
> "conservation of information", because Shannon-like measures are  
> definitely not state variables, and hence not conserved. For example,
> information is continually being created and destroyed in ecological  
> systems.

Yes, of course, organisms die and decay. I suppose what physicists
mean is that the sort of information in which they are interested, ie
at the levels that concern them, is conserved.

However, what I'm interested in is the information, not whether,
where or to what extent it is conserved: that is merely an
illustration of the use of "information" in physics, for me, I'm no
physicist, and I'm afraid I can't help with such issues. We all have
to specialise!

Robin Faichney

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