Mark Burgin has proposed an interesting topic. Here is how I think of it.

We need to know the characteristics of an instrument if we are to correctly
interpret its output.

In this case our perceptual system is the instrument and information is the
output.  The science of perception indicates that our perceptual system is
capable of creating forms that represent our environment, but it is not
capable of direct perception.   According to the neuroscience model, when
we look at a tree we become conscious of the form "tree" created by our
brain that represents the physical (Kant's noumenal) tree.  This makes our
conscious world a world of forms and we in-form ourselves when we look at
(perceive) our environment.

Forms include some aspects of what they represent (often the shape) - but
exclude other aspects. We can therefore think of forms as
abstractions.  Because we only become conscious of  forms, we get the
impression that these forms are non-physical and likewise we surmise that
information is also non physical.  However, as we can assume that the forms
we become conscious of have a material substrate that is not represented in
what appears in consciousness, we can model this as if there is a physical
component to a form that is not apparent in the conscious form.  Just as we
can use pebbles to create a form on a beach and then ignore the pebbles,
our can brain uses some material component (possibly a field) to create the
form we become conscious of. without us becoming conscious of the substrate.

To test this model we can see how well it deals with the famous mind/body
interaction problem. We can think of a living active brain as being made up
of the "meat" and the electrochemical  activity and the fields these
generate etc.  If we abstract away the activity, we are left with the meat,
but if we abstract away the meat we are left with the activity.  We can
call one brain and the other mind, and treat them as if they were different
abstractions of the same entity. If we do this the interaction problem
disappears and we are no longer tempted to accept that this duality is
something that exists outside of consciousness.  We create the mind/brain
model because it  is useful for analysis, but it is not a good
representation of the living brain, which is an integral unit.

Similarly we create an information/matter duality that is useful for many
purposes, but we must recognise that each component of this duality is an
abstraction of an integrated substrate. On this approach, we confuse
ourselves when we create a duality and then impose it on what it represents.


Dick Stoute


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