Dear FISers,

A hot discussion indeed...
We can all agree that perspectives on information depend on the context. 
Physics, mathematics, thermodynamics, biology, psychology, philosophy, AI, ...

But these many contexts have a common backbone: They are part of the evolution 
of our universe and of its understanding, part of its increasing complexity 
from the Big Bang to us humans.
And taking evolution as a reading grid allows to begin with the simple.
As proposed in a previous post, we care about information ONLY because it can 
be meaningful.  Take away the concept of meaning, the one of information has no 
reason of existing.
And our great discussions would just not exist. ....
Now, Evolution + Meaning => Evolution of meaning. As already highlighted this 
looks to me as important in principles of IS.
As you may remember that there is a presentation on that subject 
The evolution of the universe is a great subject where the big questions are 
with the transitions: energy=> matter => life => self-consciousness => ...
And I feel that one way to address these transitions is with local constraints 
as sources of meaning generation.

De : Fis <> de la part de 
Envoyé : vendredi 29 septembre 2017 14:01
À : fis
Objet : Re: [Fis] Principles of IS

Dear FISers,
...a very hot discussion...
I think that it is not useful to talk about Aristotle, Plato and Ortega y 
Gasset, it the modern context of information... their phylosophical, not 
scientific approach, although marvelous, does not provide insights in a purely 
scientific issue such the information we are talking about...

Once and forever, it must be clear that information is a physical quantity.
Please read (it is not a paper of mine!):
Street S.  2016.  Neurobiology as information physics.  Frontiers in Systems 

In short, Street shows how information can be clearly defined in terms of 
Bekenstein entropy!

and BW...

Arturo Tozzi

AA Professor Physics, University North Texas

Pediatrician ASL Na2­Nord, Italy

Comput Intell Lab, University Manitoba


Inviato da Libero Mail per Android

venerdì, 29 settembre 2017, 01:31PM +02:00 da Rafael Capurro<>:

Dear Pedro,

thanks for food for thought. When talking about communication we should not 
forget that Wiener defines cybernetics as "the theory of messages" (not: as the 
theory of information) (Human use of human beings, London 1989, p. 15, p. 77 
"cybernetics, or the theory of messages" et passim) Even for Shannon uses the 
(undefined) concept of message 'as' what is transmitted (which is not 
information) is of paramount importance. And so also at the level of cell-cell 

The code or the difference message/messenger is, I think, a key for 
interpreting biological processes. In this sense, message/messanger are 
'archai' (in the Aristotelian) sense for different sciences (no reductionism if 
we want to focus on the differences between the phenomena). 'Archai' are NOT 
'general concepts' (as you suggest) but originating forces that underline the 
phenomena in their manifestations 'as' this or that.

>From this perspective, information (following Luhmann) is the process of 
>interpretation taking place at the receiver. When a cell, excuse me these 
>thoughts from a non-biologist, receives a message transmitted by a messenger, 
>then the main issue is from the perspective of the cell, to interpret this 
>message (with a special address or 'form' supposed to 'in-form' the cell) 'as' 
>being relevant for it. Suppose this interpretation is wrong in the sense that 
>the message causes death (to the cell or the whole organism), then the 
>re-cognition system (its immune system also) of the cell fails. Biological 
>fake news, so to speak, with mortal consequences due to failures in the 


Dear FISers,

I also agree with Ji and John Torday about the tight relationship between 
information and communication. Actually Principle 5 was stating : 
"Communication/information exchanges among adaptive life-cycles underlie the 
complexity of biological organizations at all scales." However, let me suggest 
that we do not enter immediately in the discussion of cell-cell communication, 
because it is very important and perhaps demands some more exchanges on the 
preliminary info matters.

May I return to principles and Aristotle? I think that Rafael and Michel are 
talking more about principles as general concepts than about principles as 
those peculiar foundational items that allow the beginning of a new scientific 
discourse. Communication between principles of the different disciplines is 
factually impossible (or utterly irrelevant): think on the connection between 
Euclidean geometry and politics, biology, etc. I think Ortega makes right an 
interpretation about that. When Aristotle makes the first classification of the 
sciences, he is continuing with that very idea. Theoretical sciences, 
experimental or productive sciences, and applied or practical sciences--with an 
emphasis on the explanatory theoretical power of both physics and mathematics 
(ehm, Arturo will agree fully with him). I have revisited my old reading notes 
and I think that the Aristotelian confrontation with the Platonic approach to 
the unity of knowledge that Ortega comments is extremely interesting for our 
current debate on information principles.

There is another important aspect related to the first three principles in my 
original message (see at the bottom). It would be rather strategic to achieve a 
consensus on the futility of struggling for a universal information definition. 
Then, the tautology of the first principle ("info is info") is a way to 
sidestep that definitional aspect. Nevertheless, it is clear that interesting 
notions of information may be provided relative to some particular domains or 
endeavors. For instance, "propagating influence" by our colleague Bob Logan, 
Stuart Kauffman and others, and many other notions or partial definitions as 
well--I include my own "distinction on the adjacent" as valuable for the 
informational approach in biology. Is this "indefinability" an undesirable 
aspect? To put an example from physics, time appears as the most undefinable of 
the terms, but it shows up in almost all equations and theories of physics... 
Principle three means that one can do a lot of things with info without the 
need of defining it.

As for the subject that is usually coupled to the info term, as our discussion 
advances further, entering the "information flows" will tend to clarify things. 
The open-ended relationship with the environment that the "informational 
entities" maintain via the channeling of those info flows--it is a very special 
coupling indeed--allows these entities the further channeling of the "energy 
flows" for self-maintenance. Think on the living cells and their signaling 
systems, or think on our "info" societies. Harold Morowitz's "energy flow in 
biology" has not been paralleled yet by a similar "information flow in 
biology". One is optimistic that the recent incorporation of John Torday, plus 
Shungchul Ji and others, may lead to a thought-collective capable of 
illuminating the panorama of biological information.

(shouldn't we make an effort to incorporate other relevant parties, also 
interested in biological information, to this discussion?)

Best wishes--Pedro

El 23/09/2017 a las 21:27, Sungchul Ji escribió:

Hi Fisers,

I agree.

Communication may be the key concept in developing a theory of informaton.

Just as it is impossible to define what energy is without defining the 
thermodynamic system under consideration (e.g., energy is conserved only in an 
isolated system and not in closed or open systems; the Gibbs free energy 
content decreases only when a spontaneous process  occurs in non-isolsted 
systems with a constant temperature and pressure, etc), so it may be that 
'information' cannot be defined rigorously without  first defining the 
"communication system" under consideration.   If this analogy is true, we can 
anticipate that, just as there are many different kinds of energies depending 
on the characteristics of the thermodynamic systems involved, so there may be 
many different kinds of 'informations' depending on the nature of the 
communication systems under consideration.

The properties or behaviors of all thermodynamic systems depend on their 
environment, and there are three  system-environment relations -- (i) isolated 
(e.g., the Universe, or the thermos bottle), (ii) closed (e.g., refriegerator), 
and (iii) open (e.g., the biosphere, living cells).

It is interesting to note that, all communication systems (e.g., cell, organs, 
animals, humans) may embody ITR (Irreducible Triadic Relation) which I  found 
it convenient to represent diagramamatically using a 3-node network arrows as 
shown below:

                                             f                   g

                                    A ---------->  B --------->  C
                                     |                                       ^
                                     |                                       |

Figure 1.  The Irreducible Triadic Relation (ITR) of C. S. Peirce (1839-21914) 
represented as a 3-node,  closed and directed network.  The arrows  form the 
commutative triangle of category theory, i.e., operations f followed by g leads 
to the same result as operation h, here denoted as fxg = h.

f = information production; g = information interpretation; h = correspondence 
or information flow.   Please note that Processes f and g are driven by 
exergonic physicochemical processes, and h requires a pre-existing code or 
language that acts as the rule of mapping A and C.

Again, just as generations of thermodynamicists in the 19-20th centuries have 
defined various kinds of "energies" (enthalpy, Helmholtz free energy, Gibbs 
free energy) applicable to different kinds of thermodynamic systems, so 
'information scientists' of the 21st century  may have the golden opportunity 
to define as many kinds of 'informations' as needed for the different kinds of 
"communcation systems" of their interest, some examples of which being 
presented in Table 1.


Table 1.  A 'parametric' definition of information based on the values of the 
three nodes
                of the ITR, Figure 1.


Communication system               A                      B                     


Cells                                                 DNA/RNA        Proteins   
                  Chemcal reactions
(Biological informations)                                                       
                            or chemical waves


Humans                                            Sender            Message     
(Linguistic informations)


Signs                                                  Object             
Representamen        Interpretant
(Semiotic informations, or

'Universal informations' (?))

With all the best.


From: Fis <><> 
on behalf of JOHN TORDAY <><>
Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2017 10:44:33 AM
Subject: [Fis] Principles of IS

Dear Fis, I am a newcomer to this discussion, but suffice it to say that I have 
spent the last 20 years trying to understand how and why physiology has 
evolved. I stumbled upon your website because Pedro Maijuan had reviewed a 
paper of ours on 'ambiguity' that was recently published in Progr Biophys Mol 
Biol July 22, 2017 fiy.
Cell-cell communication is the basis for molecular embryology/morphogenesis. 
This may seem tangential at best to your discussion of Information Science, but 
if you'll bear with me I will get to the point. In my (humble) opinion, 
information is the 'language' of evolution, but communication of information as 
a process is the mechanism. In my reduction of evolution as communication, it 
comes down to the interface between physics and biology, which was formed when 
the first cell delineated its internal environment (Claude Bernard, Walter B 
Cannon) from the outside environment. From that point on, the dialog between 
the environment and the organism has been on-going, the organism internalizing 
the external environment and compartmentalizing it to form what we recognize as 
physiology (Endosymbiosis Theory). Much of this thinking has come from new 
scientific evidence for Lamarckian epigenetic inheritance from my laboratory 
and that of many others- how the organism internalizes information from the 
environment by chemically changing the information in DNA in the egg and sperm, 
and then in the zygote and offspring, across generations. So here we have a 
fundamental reason to reconsider what 'information' actually means 
biologically. If you are interested in any of my publications on this subject 
please let me know (<>). Thank you for 
any interest you may have in this alternative way of thinking about 
information, communication and evolution.

Fis mailing list<>

Dear FIS Colleagues,

As promised herewith the "10 principles of information science". A couple of 
previous comments may be in order.
First, what is in general the role of principles in science? I was motivated by 
the unfinished work of philosopher Ortega y Gasset, "The idea of principle in 
Leibniz and the evolution of deductive theory" (posthumously published in 
1958). Our tentative information science seems to be very different from other 
sciences, rather multifarious in appearance and concepts, and cavalierly moving 
from scale to scale. What could be the specific role of principles herein? 
Rather than opening homogeneous realms for conceptual development, these 
information principles would appear as a sort of "portals" that connect with 
essential topics of other disciplines in the different organization layers, but 
at the same time they should try to be consistent with each other and provide a 
coherent vision of the information world.
And second, about organizing the present discussion, I bet I was too optimistic 
with the commentators scheme. In any case, for having a first glance on the 
whole scheme, the opinions of philosophers would be very interesting. In order 
to warm up the discussion, may I ask John Collier, Joseph Brenner and Rafael 
Capurro to send some initial comments / criticisms? Later on, if the 
commentators idea flies, Koichiro Matsuno and Wolfgang Hofkirchner would be 
very valuable voices to put a perspectival end to this info principles 
discussion (both attended the Madrid bygone FIS 1994 conference)...
But this is FIS list, unpredictable in between the frozen states and the 
chaotic states! So, everybody is invited to get ahead at his own, with the only 
customary limitation of two messages per week.

Best wishes, have a good weekend --Pedro


1. Information is information, neither matter nor energy.

2. Information is comprehended into structures, patterns, messages, or flows.

3. Information can be recognized, can be measured, and can be  processed 
(either computationally or non-computationally).

4. Information flows are essential organizers of life's self-production 
processes--anticipating, shaping, and mixing up with the accompanying energy 

5. Communication/information exchanges among adaptive life-cycles underlie the 
complexity of biological organizations at all scales.

6. It is symbolic language what conveys the essential communication exchanges 
of the human species--and constitutes the core of its "social nature."

7. Human information may be systematically converted into efficient knowledge, 
by following the "knowledge instinct" and further up by applying rigorous 

8. Human cognitive limitations on knowledge accumulation are partially overcome 
via the social organization of "knowledge ecologies."

9. Knowledge circulates and recombines socially, in a continuous actualization 
that involves "creative destruction" of fields and disciplines: the 
intellectual Ars Magna.

10. Information science proposes a new, radical vision on the information and 
knowledge flows that support individual lives, with profound consequences for 
scientific-philosophical practice and for social governance.

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 0
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 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 0
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)<>

Fis mailing list<>

Prof.em. Dr. Rafael Capurro
Hochschule der Medien (HdM), Stuttgart, Germany
Capurro Fiek Foundation for Information Ethics 
Distinguished Researcher at the African Centre of Excellence for Information 
Ethics (ACEIE), Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, 
South Africa.
Chair, International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE) (
Editor in Chief, International Review of Information Ethics (IRIE) 
Postal Address: Redtenbacherstr. 9, 76133 Karlsruhe, Germany
Voice: + 49 - 721 - 98 22 9 - 22 (Fax: -21)

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