I would agree with this. I also agree with Bob. And of course I agree with Stan. However I do think that the technical problems are rather more than Stan estimates. More on this later. I don't feel so good right now.


At 12:45 AM 2014-10-24, Guy A Hoelzer wrote:
Dear Bob et al.,

I take semiotics as the science of meaning, which I separate from the science of information (information theory?).  Along the line of your argument, meaningfulness would be exclusive to dynamical systems where agency, purpose, and self-interest have emerged.  When such a system encounters a bit of physical information it might or might not apprehend the bit.  It can only apprehend the bit if something about the system's dynamics is changed as a result of the encounter.  It would only be meaningful to that system if it is “a difference that makes a difference”.  In other words, if the change in the system’s dynamics affects system function in some way, then that bit of information was meaningful to that system.  The example of the gravitational pull of the sun on the earth can
 be considered in this framework.  The first think I would say is that there are plenty of systems in and on the earth, but the planet itself does not necessarily constitute a system.  A big rock floating in space does not imply an internal system that could apprehend or change dynamically in response to gravitational pull.  On the other hand, dynamical geological processes within the earth, biological/ecological systems on the earth, or weather systems in the atmosphere might qualify; and these system could potentially apprehend and respond meaningfully to the sun’s gravitational pull.  On the other hand, the information encountered as a result of exposure to the gravitational pull might be entirely transparent to (not detectable by) some of these systems.  At least this is how I think about this interesting issue.



Guy Hoelzer, Associate Professor
Department of Biology
University of Nevada Reno

Phone:  775-784-4860
Fax:  775-784-1302

On Oct 23, 2014, at 7:13 AM, Bob Logan < lo...@physics.utoronto.ca> wrote:

Dear Stan - could you clarify that last sentence of your = perhaps I misinterpreted it - are you saying that context in a purely physical abiotic  situation is somehow related to interpretation and hence information. I apologize in advance if I mis-interpreted your remarks.

In framing my advanced apology to you Stan, I inadvertently used the term mis-interpreted. This sparked the following idea: Mis-information is due to misinterpretation of the receiver whereas dis-informatio is due to the intended deception of the sender.

A further thought about whether abiotic physical processes can be construed as information:  Meaning and hence information can only exist for a system that has a purpose, a telos, or an end it wishes to achieve, i.e abiotc system such as a living organism or even a cell.   "So-called information" with out meaning is only signals. And even there, to say that the sun's gravitational pull on the earth is a signal is to engage in anthropomorphic thinking. And to suggest that the sun's gravitational pull on the earth is information does not make sense because there is no way that anything can have meaning for the earth. The earth has no objective or  purpose, Gaia hypothesis not withstanding, For us earthlings it is another matter. We have figured out that the sun exerts a gravitational pull on the earth and the statement to that effect has meaning for those able to grasp elementary physics but the gravitational pull is not information in itself only a description of that gravitational pull of the sun on the earth is information.



Robert K. Logan
Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto 
Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD

On 2014-10-23, at 9:27 AM, Stanley N Salthe wrote:

Pedro wrote:

PM: Regarding the theme of physical information raised by Igor and Joseph, the main problematic aspect of information (meaning) is missing there. One can imagine that as two physical systems interact, each one may be metaphorically attributed with meaning respect the changes experimented. But it is an empty attribution that does not bring any further interesting aspect.

SS: I have advanced (  On the origin of semiosis. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 19 (3): 53-66. 2012 ) the idea that whenever context influences importantly any reaction which, even in the physical realm, might be viewed as an informational exchange, there is the forerunner of the interpretation of an interaction, Such a simple 'interpretation' (proto-interpretation) would then be the forerunner of meaning generation.  When context importantly influences the outcome of a physical interaction, this brings a "further interesting aspect" beyond the purely physical.

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