Hi FISers,

I am not sure whether I am a Procrustes (bed) or a Peirce (triadomaniac), but I 
cannot help but seeing an ITR (irreducible Triadic Relation) among Text, 
Context and Meaning, as depicted in Figure 1.


                                            Context  -------->  Text   
--------->  Meaning





“The meaning of a text is irreducibly dependent on its context.”

 “Text, context, and meaning are irreducibly triadic.”   The “TCM principle” (?)

Figure 1.  The Procrustean bed, the Peircean triadomaniac, or both ?

f =  Sign production;  g =  Sign interpretation;  h = Correlation or 
information flow.

According to this 'Peircean/Procrustesian' diagram, both what Terry said and 
what Xueshan said may be valid.  Although their thinking must have been 
irreducibly triadic (if Peirce is right), Terry may have focused on (or 
prescinded) Steps f and h, while Xueshan prescinded Steps g and h, although he 
did indicate that his discussion was limited to the context of human 
information and human meaning (i.e., Step  f).  Or maybe there are many other 
interpretations possible, depending on the interpreter of the posts under 
discussion and the ITR diagram.

There are an infinite number of examples of algebraic operations: 2+3 = 5, 3 - 
1 = 2, 20 x 45 = 900, etc., etc.
If I say "2 + 3 = 5", someone may say, but you missed "20 x 45 = 900".  In 
other words, no matter what specific algebraic operation I may come up with, my 
opponent can always succeed in coming up with an example I missed.   The only 
solution to such an end-less debate would be to discover the axioms of algebra, 
at which level, there cannot be any debate.  When I took an abstract algebra 
course as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, in 1962-5, I 
could not believe that underlying all the complicated algebraic calculations 
possible, there are only 5 axioms 

So can it be that there are the axioms (either symbolic,  diagrammatic, or 
both) of information science waiting to be discovered, which will end all the 
heated debates on information, meaning, data, etc. ?

All the best.


From: Fis <fis-boun...@listas.unizar.es> on behalf of Terrence W. DEACON 
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2018 1:13 PM
To: Xueshan Yan
Cc: FIS Group
Subject: Re: [Fis] A Paradox

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 

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 
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 

— Terry

On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 1:47 AM, Xueshan Yan 
<y...@pku.edu.cn<mailto:y...@pku.edu.cn>> 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,


Fis mailing list

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

Reply via email to