Pedro, List:

You write:
>  ...a reference to the tension between the empirical and the abstract in FIS. 
> I quite agree, it is one of the essential tensions in any healthy scientific 
> development (whenever it is possible to maintain it).

Tensions between the empirical and the abstract?

From my reading of the posts of various contributors over the past 3-5 years, I 
heartily disagree with this view of the current situation on this FIS list 

Shannon's information theory was published about 65 years ago.
It has become the logical foundation of a huge industry employing millions of 
workers, globally.

The principle abstraction of information theory can be roughly stated.  If one 
encoded information (numbers, letters, images, mathematics, physics, chemistry, 
biology, medicine, art, music, literature, feeling, emotions, etc.) into a 
binary code, then the encoded information can be electronically encoded and 
transmitted (transferred) to other electronic devices and decoded by other 
machines or individuals. This dependency, in turn, relies upon Boolean Algebra 
and associated mathematics. It now appears that the overwhelming majority of 
contributors to list serve find this externalist's view of information to be in 
complete harmony with the empirical and the abstract.   

Where is the tension?
Do you not believe in the validity of Boolean algebra?
Do you not believe in the validity of encoding processes? 
Do you not believe in the validity of transmission processes/error correction 

The overwhelming majority of contributors find this externalist's view of 
information to be acceptable, and seek to make it more acceptable by tweaking 
the "word-smithing" a bit in order to become congruent with their personal 
philosophy.  At least that is my view of the current status. 

Why do I write this message, perhaps a bit on the side of harshness?

Quite simple. 
The current foundation of information sciences does not meet the needs of 
chemistry, biology or medicine. A second foundation must be built to express 
the role of information in communications within living systems. For example, 
central to the tree of life are the informative  feed-forwards processes that 
transmit genetic information into individual anatomies and logical processes, 
life itself. Of particular theoretical interest, from the perspective of FIS, 
are the feed-forward processes that start with the messages encoded in a 
fertilized egg and generate, through a sequence of biochemical process, the 

Perhaps one or more of the externalists can determine whether the genesis of 
mind, a process common to almost all human descendants, is Turing Computable or 



Research Professor
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies

On Nov 7, 2013, at 11:00 AM, wrote:

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>   1. Re: FIS News (Pedro C. Marijuan)
> From: "Pedro C. Marijuan" <>
> Subject: Re: [Fis] FIS News
> Date: November 7, 2013 7:11:48 AM CST
> To: <>
> Dear Karl and FIS colleagues,
> Many thanks for the comprehensive response. You have made a reference to the 
> tension between the empirical and the abstract in FIS. I quite agree, it is 
> one of the essential tensions in any healthy scientific development (whenever 
> it is possible to maintain it). My tongue-in-cheek complain was precisely 
> addressed to the usual abscence of such tension in our discussions, or say, 
> the insufficient presence of the empirical. For instance, in the current 
> exchange I was mentioning the ecological-sociological views of Jared Diamond, 
> as one of the most vocal authors on the "collapse" of historical societies, 
> even pretty complex ones.  His views on the structural traits involving the 
> complexification of the daily interactions could be quite interesting to 
> discuss along the present theme.
> Nowadays there also a number of network science studies on person-to-person 
> interactions, often along cell-phone technologies. Other more general 
> approaches look for the influence of new technologies in human relationships 
> (in Xian an excellent presentation on "friendship" from an Aristotelian 
> background in the i-society was made by Michael Patrick). Another interesting 
> angle concerns the studies on "smart cities" , how individual life stories 
> are carried out among energy-material flows  coupled with information flows 
> of a new nature.  The contemporary acceleration of "artificial information 
> flows" impinging on the individual and the parallel decrease in the standards 
> of mental health may be a matter of concern --are there any correlations?
> Finally, I remake "informationally" some of the points raised by Karl below 
> on forestry --what about making sense on the info flows between heterogeneous 
> species that couple the life cycles, eg, pheromones between cattle and grass? 
> About the cell, what about the signaling and communication infostructure that 
> guides the life cycle of each cell? And about social groups, that's the theme 
> now in question, on how conversation becomes the essential info flow knitting 
> them. In short, there are plenty of informational applied themes that can be 
> put in general language of information science and can help to maintain more 
> lively and fertile exchanges. Yes, in the mutual creative tension.
> best wishes
> ---Pedro
> Karl Javorszky wrote:
>> Dear FIS,
>> welcome new colleagues. Pedro has over the years built a scientific 
>> community that is a pleasant and awakening environment for the participants.
>> There has always been a tension between the empirical and the abstract in 
>> FIS. The name of the setup is "Foundations of Information Science". It is 
>> not easy to speak about foundations in a concrete, specific way. The 
>> fundament is the integral of all that are constructed based on these 
>> fundamental insights and rules. One has to abstract from each of the 
>> applications and find that what is common to all of them to speak about 
>> fundamental truths that are valid in each of the particular ancounters with 
>> reality, the applied research.
>> Basic science is necessarily abstract. There is a strong 
>> mathematical-logical current also in FIS. The rules of speaking clearly in a 
>> rational dialogue were set up and codified by Wittgenstein in his "Tractatus 
>> logico-philosophicus". To transmit an idea with clarity, one should use such 
>> words that have a meaning commonly agreed on, and while speaking obey the 
>> grammatical rules of the logical language. (By using this technique for 
>> contrasting, we can recognise empty blah-blah, manipulative advertisement, 
>> PR sermons etc., as these are grammatically correct but lack the common 
>> agreement on the content. Then again, we can enjoy opera, drama and maintain 
>> social empathy, if the common understanding is there, even when formal 
>> correctness of a logical language is missing, like in exclamations or 
>> laughter.)
>> By using natural numbers as tokens for words, and performing tricks on them, 
>> we can discuss possible logical sentences. The grammar of the sentences will 
>> be by all means correct, because we use simple rules like {=,+,<,>}, but the 
>> common understanding is not present yet in the necessary extent.
>> Understanding how societies, economies, the ecosystem, human thinking, 
>> strategies of collaboration work: these are noble goals. On these fields, we 
>> can conduct experiments, observe facts, enjoy empirics. Sadly, we cannot 
>> communicate our findings among each other in the necessary clarity, because 
>> we do not share a common language to discuss the phenomena in. Previously, 
>> we had the concept of God (or gods or nature, etc.) as an active instance 
>> that creates and manages order, the discovery of which is what we call 
>> "information". This generation is too much multicultural to agree on a 
>> central cause that is the principle (G. Bruno: Of Cause, Principle and 
>> Unity).
>> There is order in nature, societies, in human thinking, climate changes and 
>> genetics. We can talk about the central order concept and find explanations 
>> (other that "God's work") for its realisations, but this talk will have to 
>> be conducted in a fashion that merits the goals expressed in the name of 
>> this group. It is too much complicated listening first to a sociologist 
>> explaining that subgroups marginalise and/or radicalise and can or can not 
>> integrate after x generations, and then, say, to a forestry professional 
>> that fires have also a self-clearing function, and then a biologist talking 
>> about prophase, metaphase and anaphase. They all talk about continuity, form 
>> and order as expressed by diversity within the whole.
>> Let me maintain the hope that FIS is a place where translations into each 
>> other's languages are welcome and encouraged.
>> Karl 
>> 2013/11/4 Pedro C. Marijuan < 
>> <>>
>>    Dear FIS colleages,
>>    Some new people from the Xian conference have joined our list
>>    --welcome to all of them. Before coming back to the ongoing
>>    discussion, let me briefly refer to ongoing changes in FIS
>>    organization. The _scientific committee_ will be enlarged to
>>    incorporate new trends, a _steering committee_ will be established
>>    to provide stable management, the _Secretariat_ will be finally in
>>    working order, and the _fis web pages_ reformed. The compromise is
>>    to implement these changes during coming months. Information
>>    Science is definitely entering a new time, and at FIS we need a
>>    little bit more of organization if we want to keep playing our
>>    role of scientific mentorship, also including matters of research,
>>    publishing, conferences, summer school, etc. Another related news,
>>    quite recent one, refers to the creation of the _Chinese Chapter
>>    of ISIS_ organization (& FIS). It will be integrated by the
>>    parties in Beijing, Wuhan, Xi'an, and other regions. At the time
>>    being it will be coordinated by Xueshan Yan and Liu Chang. It will
>>    be more amply disclosed during coming weeks.
>>    About the ongoing discussion, why an essentially empirical work is
>>    reinterpreted exclusively towards the most theoretical-abstract?
>>    It is not quite useful. There are very cool aspects of Raquel's
>>    work that would benefit of comments more "having the feet on the
>>    ground". Then, from those further applied aspects we could connect
>>    with the abstract-theoretical, but with more fertility than now.     I am 
>> thinking particularly on Jared Diamond's work on the
>>    environmental and cultural conditions for the development of
>>    social complexity. Do these conditions dovetail with some of the
>>    mental/numerical thresholds of the type argued by Raquel and Jorge
>>    (and myself)? I think so.
>>    best wishes
>>    --Pedro
>>    -------------------------------------------------
>>    Pedro C. Marijuán
>>    Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
>>    Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
>>    Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
>>    Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
>>    50009 Zaragoza, Spain
>>    Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 <tel:%2B34%20976%2071%203526> (& 6818)
>> <>
>>    -------------------------------------------------
>>    _______________________________________________
>>    fis mailing list
>> <>
> -- 
> -------------------------------------------------
> Pedro C. Marijuán
> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
> Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
> Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
> Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
> 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
> Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)
> -------------------------------------------------
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