Thanks everyone, all very stimulating!

On 25/04/18 03:47, Burgin, Mark wrote:
Any reasonable person will tell that the textbook contains knowledge
This is a metaphor. It is helpful in managing the complex relationships of humans with media, but will lead us into tangles if we believe that it is anything more.

Mark Johnson, thinking about music followed up with a pertinent question
What is the relation of the score to what occurs?

I'd say that both the book and the score are most usefully seen not as the transfer of information, but as coordination in relation to an artifact.

Arturo warned against anthropomorphism, and said
I start to sweat. ... my body (without the need of my mind!) extracts a termic information from its surrounding environment
As Lou says, "Information in the sense that you indicate is pattern that is independent of the particular substrate on which it is ‘carried’."  I sweat because of the interaction between my body and its environment, through of a cascade of cellular interactions, mediated by chemical processes. We can describe these chemical processes as patterns, and from those descriptions learn something about physiology. But that does not mean that the processes themselves are composed of pattern or of information.

To my mind 'extraction' of information is a metaphor (and from Lakoff's perspective it is therefore anthropomorphic). Does the body send out emissaries to mine the information? Of course Arturo does not believe that, and I'm not trying to score cheap points here. I just want to point out that language is not a neutral tool when we are discussing information. Lou's "in the sense that you indicate" correctly alerts us to the fact that there is more than one meaning to the word 'information', and implies a warning that we will talk past each other unless we are willing to clarify the distinctions we are making when we use the word. There is a long and valuable intellectual tradition that uses the word information in terms of entropy, but that is not the only way that the word is used.



Professor David (Dai) Griffiths
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