Theology and Information

Once again, Bruno has put his finger on the central point of interest: it
is irrelevant, what we call the problem, the subject-matter remains the
same over the generations. In times long gone, thinkers have called the
same problems THEOLOGICAL questions, because it was usual to discriminate
the known from the unknown by saying: what we know belongs to the realm of
humans, what we don’t know is the domain of God.

Irrespective of the name given to the target of research, it remains in a
contrast to the knowledge accessible (presently) to us humans. It builds
the BACKGROUND to that what we can understand, and therefore talk
reasonably about.

The background of perception, of understanding, of knowledge, of opinions,
or even the background as such, as an epistemological construct, is a
central theme in psychology. There, one treats it as a necessary correlate
to the foreground and the trade has looked into the processes of
dichotomisation which he human brain uses to perceive the foreground. The
flip-flop technique – exchanging the background with the foreground –
allows research into the mechanisms of recognition.

The main point is to overcome the dichotomies which distinguish the
foreground from the background. One such approach is to recognise that
“contemporary” and “successive” are man-made (perception-induced)
categories. This approach has allowed understanding, how the succession of
the DNA’s elements relate to the contemporary properties of the temporally
identical elements of the organism. This riddle has been solved.

The task presently before us is to understand the meaning of the term
PATTERNS. Once we understand patterns, we can explain how the recurring is
related to the expected and the unexpected. Causality itself appears to be
a corollary of patterns.

Let me conclude by asserting that that we in the 21st century still labour
on the same basic questions e.g. Giordano Bruno has raised, namely: what is
the ultimate, unifying principle which drives the world. In today’s
parlance, we do not discuss the same problems in terms of theology, (“what
are the properties of God and how does He organise us and the world”) but
in terms of quanta, energy and information (“what are the properties of
information and how does it organise us and the world”), yet the approach
is the same: we try to understand the properties of that what is the
background to that what we can understand well.

My suggestion is to focus on the dichotomy creating the foreground, lifting
it off from the background. Patterns connect the two: it is reasonable, in
my view, to work on the subject of patterns. Do patterns contain


2016-10-11 19:58 GMT+02:00 Loet Leydesdorff <>:

> Dear Mark and colleagues,
> Loet, clearly the redundancy is apophatic, although one has to be cautious
> in saying this: the domain of the apophatic is bigger than the domain of
> Shannon redundancy. At some point in the future we may do better in
> developing measurement techniques for 'surprise' in communication (I wonder
> if Lou Kauffman's Recursive Distinguishing is a way forwards...).
> The extension of the redundancy is not primarily a matter of measurement
> techniques, but of theorizing. The redundancy depends on the specification
> of the system. The Shannon-type information is empirical, but only the
> specification of the system enables us to specify the H(max) and therefore
> the redundancy.
> As the system grows, it may develop new dimensions which are manifest as
> bifurcations. (Reaction-diffusion dynamics; Rashevsky, Turing.) When one
> goes from one dimension n to a two-dimensional system [n,m], the number of
> options [H(max)] goes from log(n) to log(n * m), and thus the redundancy
> increases rapidly.
> For example: as long as transport over the Alps is limited to passes like
> the Brenner, the capacity can become exhausted. Digging tunnels or flying
> over the Alps adds degrees of freedom to the transport system. The number
> of options (n * m * k * ….) can “explode” by cultural and technological
> developments.  The transitions come as surprises (e.g., the demise of the
> Soviet-Union). Suddenly, the relevant systems definitions have to be
> revised.
> The systems definitions have the status of hypotheses. Hypotheses can be
> considered as theoretically informed expectations. The world of
> expectations proliferates with a dynamic different from the actualizations.
> The two realms are coupled since the actualizations can be considered as
> instantiations of the order of expectations; but only if the latter is
> specified as different from the empirical order of realizations.
> Best,
> Loet
> ------------------------------
> Loet Leydesdorff
> Professor, University of Amsterdam
> Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
> ;
> Associate Faculty, SPRU, <>University of
> Sussex;
> Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. <>,
> Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC,
> <>Beijing;
> Visiting Professor, Birkbeck <>, University of
> London;
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