Dear Terrence, Bob, Pedro, and colleagues,
Thank you for interesting posts and discussion.
For me it was creative stimulus to continue thinking about information
I tried to send some comments but the anti-spam filter of FIS-list stopped
No, problems. Next time I shall send them.
Now I want to point that "the lamp" is not only one and the searchers are
more than one, and, at the end, all of them search for different "lost
We have serious civilization problem which is not only in our area - it is
general for the science at all.
But I have a belief that the door we want to open has more than one keyholes
and it may be unlocked by the common action of all of us.
P.S. Dear Pedro, please resend this letter if it stopped again by FIS spam
From: Terrence W. DEACON
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 7:31 PM
To: Bob Logan
Subject: Re: [Fis] Concluding the Lecture?
Thanks to Pedro and Bob for these last few comments. Indeed, like
Darwin in 1859 we are still just beginning to formulate "one long
argument" that will need to be progressively refined in the decades to
come. The question is where best to begin the task of synthesizing. I
too find the metaphor of searching for lost keys quite apropos, but I
would beg your indulgence while I add an elaboration to this metaphor
that sheds light on the perspective I have offered.
Yes, we must at first search close to the light, even though there we
will only find vague hints. But, importantly, as we cover more and
more territory we will discover that the light progressively
brightens. So long as we keep searching and don't walk out into the
dark too quickly, skipping over important territory in between, the
entire territory will become more and more thoroughly illuminated,
searchable, and familiar to us.
I believe that the light is brightest in the domain where we can see a
clear relation between the two quite different concepts of entropy and
the relationship of both to the concept of work. Admittedly, starting
so minimally as I have in this essay seems remote from the interests
of psychologists, anthropologists, economists and their kin, who
demand an account of human-scale information processes, while at the
same time appearing to introduce the messiness of semiotic concerns
into the seemingly pristine world of information as a simple physical
parameter. But of course the problem is to find the best illuminated
middle ground between these two extremes, both still bathed in the
darkness of simplifying assumptions that make them seem mutually
exclusive— separated by darkness.
This is what I am trying to accomplish. Though deceptively simple, I
believe that the autogenic model system is just sufficiently complex
to provide complete illumination of each of the critical defining
features of the information concept—sign medium properties (entropies,
uncertainty, constraint), reference (aboutness), significance
(function, value, normativity), and interpretation (adaptation,
intelligence)—while not artificially simplifying the issue by ignoring
one or the other of these facets.
Because of its simplicity none of these basic concepts are left in the
dark as black boxes or excluded as taboo concepts. But of course,
working at such a basic level means that the nature of more complex
phenomena as thinking, subjectivity, language, and culture (to mention
only a few) are not yet well illuminated by this light. This isn't to
suggest that other pursuits in these other domains should be
abandoned—for they at least clear away some of the underbrush creating
paths that will help to ease the linkage between the different
subterritories when finally the light brightens (to continue the
metaphor). I just believe that this middle level is where the light
best illuminates all the critical foundational issues.
I don't expect agreement, but so far I haven't felt that the specific
components of this proposal have been addressed in this thread. And in
these closing days of discussion (as well as in future privately
shared emails after this window closes) I hope to receive some
suggestions and constructive criticisms pointing to where I might go
next with this approach.
Thanks for all your inputs. Terry
On 1/30/15, Bob Logan <lo...@physics.utoronto.ca> wrote:
Thanks Pedro for your remarks. We have not reached our destination as you
point out but the important thing is to enjoy the journey which I
have. It is inevitable that with such a slippery concept as information
there will be different destinations depending on the travellers but what
like about FIS in general and the dialogue that Terry prompted in
is the interesting ideas and good company I encountered along the way. As
for your remark about searching where there is light I suggest that we
a flashlight for the next journey to be led by our tour guide Zhao Chuan.
One common theme for understanding the importance of both information and
intelligence for me is interpretation and context (figure/ground or
pragmatics). Thanks to all especially Terry for a very pleasant journey. -
Robert K. Logan
Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto
Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD
On 2015-01-30, at 8:25 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:
Dear Terry and colleagues,
At your convenience, during the first week of February or so we may put
end to the ongoing New Year Lecture --discussants willing to enter their
late comments should hurry up. Your own final or concluding comment will
Personally, my late comment will deal with the last exchange between Bob
and Terry, It is about the point which follows: "...there was no thesis
other than the word information is a descriptor for so many different
situations and that it is a part of a semantic web - no roadmap only a
jaunt through the countryside of associations - a leisurely preamble."
In my own parlance, we have been focusing this fis session on the
microphysical foundations of information (thermodynamic in this case)
which together with the quantum would look as the definite foundations of
the whole field, or even of the whole "great domain of information." But
could it be so? Is there such thing as a "unitary" foundation? My
impression is that we are instinctively working "where the light is",
reminding the trite story of the physicists who has lost the car keys and
is looking closest to the street lamp. The point I suggest is that the
different informational realms are emergent in the strongest sense:
no trace of the underlying information realms would surface. Each realm
has to invent throughout its own engines of invention the different
informational & organizational principles that sustain its existence. It
is no obligate that there will be a successful outcome.... In the extent
to which this plurality of foundations is true, solving the microphysical
part would be of little help to adumbrating the neuronal/psychological or
the social information arena.
The roadmap Bob suggests is an obligatory exploration to advance; we may
disagree in the ways and means, but not in the overall goal. It is a mind
boggling exercise as we have to confront quite different languages and
styles of thinking. For instance, the next session we will have at FIS
a few weeks) is an attempt of an excursion on "Intelligence Science".
Presented by Zhao Chuan, the aim is of confronting the phenomenon of
intelligence from a global perspective amalgamating science (artificial
intelligence), emotions, and art (poetic and pictorial). Not easy, but we
Anyhow, Terry, we much appreciate your insights and the responses you
have produced along the Lecture. It was a nice intellectual exercise.
Best wishes to all---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 (& 6818)
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Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
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