Loet, 
Commenting the points 2 to 5, you write:
“Yes, but the differentia specifica is that meaning can be communicated using 
human language as an evolutionary achievement. Biological systems generate 
meaning, but cannot communicate it.” 
Human language is indeed a great evolutionary advantage. It is a human 
specificity involving human consciousness and free will by means we do not 
understand that well.
Regarding communication of meaning as related to constraints satisfaction, I 
feel it can be introduced for a group of agents sharing a group constraint. The 
animal world makes available some examples. Alert signals can be looked at as a 
communication implemented to satisfy the species “stay alive” constraint (ex 
Vervet monkey alarm calls informing conspecifics about presence of danger, so 
corresponding protective action can be implemented).
More generally, communication of meanings can be looked at as a transmission of 
meaningful information from an agent that generated it to another agent that 
will generate a meaning with the received information. The meaning generated by 
the receiving agent can be different from the one transmitted (different 
constraints, ..). Systemic approach allows to apply this to any kind of system 
submitted to a constraint.
Best
Christophe
(let me share this with the List)
 


From: l...@leydesdorff.net
To: christophe.men...@hotmail.fr
Subject: RE: [Fis] replies to several
Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 07:43:07 +0200








1) A “meaning” does not exist by itself. It is a “meaningful information” 
(Shannon type information) related to a system that creates it or uses it in 
order to satisfy some constraint (ex: stay alive for species by ADN 
transmission, stay alive for organism by catching food, be happy for humans). 
And it is true that “mathematically derived “meaning” for antibodies is a pale 
representation of meaning in the human context”. This is why trying to 
understand what is a “meaning” by a systemic approach can be interesting. 
 
I fully agree.

2) Any meaning has an origin, more or less iterated from other meanings. As 
already expressed at FIS, a basic meaning generation process can be modeled 
through the MGS (Meaning Generator System) where a system submitted to a 
constraint generates a meaning when it receives an information from its 
environment that has a connection with the constraint. The generated meaning is 
precisely the connection existing between the received information and the 
constraint (http://crmenant.free.fr/FIScience/Index.htm , 
http://crmenant.free.fr/ResUK/MGS.pdf). The received information can already be 
meaningful. 
3) The MGS is a building block populating agents that have different 
constraints to satisfy 
(http://www.idt.mdh.se/ECAP-2005/INFOCOMPBOOK/CHAPTERS/10-Menant.pdf).
4) Networks of meanings for an agent about an item of its environment 
constitute a meaningful representation of the item for the agent. Meanings link 
agents to their environments  (“ “).
5) Meaning generation by the MGS can be used as an evolutionary tool beginning 
with bacteria. It brings to highlight the specificities of organisms and humans 
in terms of systems and constraints where our understanding is sometimes 
limited (“ “). 
 
Yes, but the differentia specifica is that meaning can be communicated using 
human language as an evolutionary achievement. Biological systems generate 
meaning, but cannot communicate it. 
 
Best wishes, Loet
 

Best
Christophe

 



From: l...@leydesdorff.net
To: joe.bren...@bluewin.ch; fis@listas.unizar.es
Date: Sun, 8 May 2011 21:16:01 +0200
Subject: Re: [Fis] replies to several

Dear Joe: 
 

1. If I follow Loet, I must accept that Information Theory is essentially a 
mathematical theory that requires abstractions for extension to complex 
contexts. But Bob says that the mathematically derived “meaning” for antibodies 
is a pale representation of meaning in the human context and only reflects how 
wanly quantitative models in general prefigure more complicated human 
situations. CONCLUSION: something else that is non-mathematical and 
non-abstract beyond IT as so defined is required to capture meaning. 
 
Yes, I would agree. Shannon-type information is yet meaningless. Information 
can only be provided with meaning by the substantive specification of a system 
of reference. For this reason, one needs not only a formal theory of the 
exchange, but also substantive theories. For example, a theory about the 
exchange of molecules in biology, and of atoms in chemistry, or of transactions 
in economy. These theories of specific communications cannot be expected to be 
unified because the substances (of “what is communicated and why”) are 
different. The formal theory of communication serves us, among other things, 
for moving from one substantive theory to another and for developing metaphors 
that can thus heuristically be transported, because of the abstraction 
involved. Additionally, these confrontations can lead to further developments 
of the algorithms that are relevant for studying the dynamics. 
 
The dynamics in the communication of meaning is different from the 
communication of information! Information can also circulate as noise (without 
meaning). I doubt it that meaning can be communicated without communication of 
information. Meaning is generated when information can be related by “an 
observing system” or more precisely in a discourse. It seems to me that 
semioticians focus exclusively on the communication of meaning without relating 
it to the communication of information. The latter, for example, has to confirm 
to the entropy law, while the former does not. The possibility of generating 
negative information has first been discussed by Brillouin as negentropy (- 
Delta H). 
 
Meaning circulation generates redundancies because the historical case is one 
of possible cases from the perspective of hindsight and thus the maximum 
entropy (of possible states) can be continuously enlarged. This is further 
reinforced when meanings are codified in terms of models. Models enable us to 
consider more possible case in the future. Such systems – e.g., scientific 
discourses – can be considered as strongly anticipatory. They act against the 
axis of time.
 
[…] 
 
3. Two aspects of the exchange between Koichiro and Loet merit attention: 1) 
Loet said that his point of replacing “why” with “what” did not seem necessary 
to him. In my mind, however, when Koichiro refers to “what is communicated by 
what”, he is insisting on not losing the qualitative components of the 
information involved. 
 
This seems confused to me. What is the qualitative aspect of “information”? (As 
a sideline: you did not answer any of my questions!) The qualitative aspect can 
only be the system of reference attributed to the information which provides 
the information with meaning. This system of reference is qualitative and 
therefore a qualitative and substantive theory of communication is then needed. 
This theory is different from the formal theory of communication. 
 
“By what” refers to the carriers of the information. Emphasis on the “why” 
instead provides focus on the theory about the dynamical system under study. 
For example: Why are molecules communicated in the autopoiesis of life? How is 
this different from the communication of atoms? And why?
 
2) Loet seems to think that the role of time is covered by the following:  
“Meaning is communicated incursively, whereas information is communicated 
recursively, that is, with reference to a previous state (t-1). Meaning is 
provided to the events from the perspective of hindsight, and with reference to 
other possible meanings (at t +1).” This suggests a background framework and a 
world (or model of a world) limited to a state-transition concept of time, 
where, in addition, only Markovian processes occur. Koichiro envisages times 
that are closely related to or perhaps dependent on the actual communication 
processes in progress. CONCLUSION: Is there anyone in the group besides me who 
could say that both of these perspectives are necessary for a satisfactory IT?  
 
“satisfactory” is not an analytical category, but an emotional one. Do you wish 
to vote on these issues? 
 
Your “seems to think” is not such a nice formulation. Let’s keep the discussion 
rational! My example, indeed, was a (first-order) Markovian process, but it 
does not follow from the example, that “I seem to believe that only Markovian 
processes occur”. I have a preference to understanding first the simplest 
processes before moving towards the more complex non-Markovian ones because 
otherwise one may lose analytical clarity and empirical relevance. J It seems 
to me that the Markovian processes against the order of time are far from 
solved in the computation of anticipatory systems. We are only at the beginning.
 
Best wishes, 
Loet
 

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