It is so easy to get into a muddle mixing technical uses of a term with
colloquial uses, and add a dash of philosophy and discipline-specific
terminology and it becomes mental quicksand. Terms like 'information' and
'meaning" easily lead us into these sorts of confusions because they have
so many context-sensitive and pardigm-specific uses. This is well exhibited
in these FIS discusions, and is a common problem in many interdisciplinary
discussions. I have regularly requested that contributors to FIS try to
label which paradigm they are using to define their use of the term
"information' in these posts, but sometimes, like fish unaware that they
are in water, one forgets that there can be alternative paradigms (such as
the one Søren suggests).

So to try and avoid overly technical usage can you be specific about what
you intend to denote with these terms.
E.g. for the term "information" are you referring to statisitica features
intrinsic to the character string with respect to possible alternatives, or
what an interpreter might infer that this English sentence refers to, or
whether this reference carries use value or special significance for such
an interpreter?
And e.g. for the term 'meaning' are you referring to what a semantician
would consider its underlying lexical structure, or whether the sentence
makes any sense, or refers to anything in the world, or how it might impact
some reader?
Depending how you specify your uses your paradox will become irresolvable
or dissolve.

— Terry

On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 1:47 AM, Xueshan Yan <> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> In my teaching career of Information Science, I was often puzzled by the
> following inference, I call it *Paradox of Meaning and Information* or 
> *Armenia
> Paradox*. In order not to produce unnecessary ambiguity, I state it below
> and strictly limit our discussion within the human context.
> Suppose an earthquake occurred in Armenia last night and all of the main
> media of the world have given the report about it. On the second day, two
> students A and B are putting forward a dialogue facing the newspaper
> headline “*Earthquake Occurred in Armenia Last Night*”:
> Q: What is the *MEANING* contained in this sentence?
> A: An earthquake occurred in Armenia last night.
> Q: What is the *INFORMATION* contained in this sentence?
> A: An earthquake occurred in Armenia last night.
> Thus we come to the conclusion that *MEANING is equal to INFORMATION*, or
> strictly speaking, human meaning is equal to human information. In
> Linguistics, the study of human meaning is called Human Semantics; In
> Information Science, the study of human information is called Human
> Informatics.
> Historically, Human Linguistics has two definitions: 1, It is the study of
> human language; 2, It, also called Anthropological Linguistics or
> Linguistic Anthropology, is the historical and cultural study of a human
> language. Without loss of generality, we only adopt the first definitions
> here, so we regard Human Linguistics and Linguistics as the same.
> Due to Human Semantics is one of the disciplines of Linguistics and its
> main task is to deal with the human meaning, and Human Informatics is one
> of the disciplines of Information Science and its main task is to deal with
> the human information; Due to human meaning is equal to human information,
> thus we have the following corollary:
> A: *Human Informatics is a subfield of Human Linguistics*.
> According to the definition of general linguists, language is a vehicle
> for transmitting information, therefore, Linguistics is a branch of Human
> Informatics, so we have another corollary:
> B: *Human Linguistics is a subfield of Human Informatics*.
> Apparently, A and B are contradictory or logically unacceptable. It is a
> paradox in Information Science and Linguistics. In most cases, a settlement
> about the related paradox could lead to some important discoveries in a
> subject, but how should we understand this paradox?
> Best wishes,
> Xueshan
> _______________________________________________
> Fis mailing list

Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
Fis mailing list

Reply via email to