Dear fellows,

Let us not forget that the talk about substrate can be misleading if it is
not taken into account that communication itself produces a "double bind"
(Bateson  and Watzlawick)or "double closure " (von Foerster), that is, for
every statement made it allows a set of suppositions to lay underneath, and
for every current statement a set of possible further statements. As a
consequence, care should be taken that the substrate we are talking about
is not an outcome of the communication process.
If scientific communication would orientate itself by means of the concept
of medium, this shall makes us aware of the conditions of possibility
allowed to enter and play a role within the states of affairs to be dealt


El abr 27, 2018 4:36 PM, "Louis H Kauffman" <> escribió:

Dear Folks,
I suspect I am past quota for the week. Apologies for that.
1. Work in logic and mathematics is scientific even if mathematicians and
logicians sometimes deny being scientists.
2. Exact work is logical work coupled with precise and repeatable methods
of measurement.
3. The point about mathematics and logic is that it is independent of the
substrate on which it is apparently performed.
This is what I mean by statements such as “all computations exist
independently of the existence of anything physical”.
You may say, yes, but computations or reasonings cannot occur without some
I almost agree, but point out to you that since you use reasoning, concept
and observation to conjecture and verify the properties of substrates
(physical or even conceptual) there is a circularity here.
4. We come to know substrates such as physicality through reason and
We come to know reason and measurement through the support of our physical
and biological substrates.
We come to investigate both reason and physicality through each other and
our ability to sense and feel.
Sensing and feeling and measurement are our terms for those places where
concept and the physical arise together in our perception.
5. Beyond those places where significant related pairs of opposites that
cannot be separated (complementarities) occur there is our (in at least my
personal reality of unity — whereof nothing can be said.
6. We cannot sever philosophy and logic and reason from science, AND for
science we must open to the largest possible access to precision and

On Apr 27, 2018, at 4:38 AM, wrote:

Dear Bruno,
You claim: "all computations exists independently of the existence of
anything physical".
I never heard, apart probably from Berkeley and Tegmark, a more untestable,
metaphyisical, a-scientific, unquantifiable claim.

Dear FISers, we NEED to deal with something testable and quantifiable,
otherwise we are doing philosophy and logic, not science!  Even if
information is (as many FISers suggest) at least in part not physical, we
NEED to focus just on the testable part, i.e., the physical one.  And, even
if physics does not exist, as Bruno states, at least it gives me something
quantifiable and useful for my pragmatic purposes.
Even if information is something subjective in my mind (totally untestable,
but very popular claim) who cares, by a scientific standpoint?
If I say that Julius Caesar was killed by an alien, the theory is
fashinating, but useless, unless I provide proofs or testable clues.

Inviato da Libero Mail per Android
venerdì, 27 aprile 2018, 10:10AM +02:00 da Bruno Marchal

Hi Lou, Colleagues,

On 25 Apr 2018, at 16:55, Louis H Kauffman <> wrote:

Dear Krassimir and Mark,
Let us not forget the intermediate question:
How is information independent of the choice of carrier?
This is the fruitful question in my opinion, and it avoids the problem of
assigning existence to that which is relational.

The same problem exists for numbers and other mathematical entities. Does
the number 2 exist without any couples?
The mathematical answer is to construct a standard couple (e.g. { { }, {{}}
} in set theory or two marks || in formalism) and say that
a collection has cardinality two if it can be placed in 1-1 correspondence
with the standard couple. In this way of speaking we do not have to
assign an existence to two as a noun. The Russelian alternative  — to take
two to be the collection of all couples — is a fascinating intellectual
move, but
I prefer to avoid it by not having to speak of the existence of two in such
a way. Two is a concept and it is outside of formal systems and outside of
the physical
except in that we who have that concept are linked with formalism and
linked with the apparent physical.

And let us not forget the other question.
What is "the physical”?
What we take to be physical arises as a relation between our sensing (and
generalized sensing) and our ability to form concepts.
To imagine that the “physical” exists independent of that relation is an
extra assumption that is not necessary for scientific work, however
attractive or repelling it may seem.

Indeed, the existence of a physical ontology is an hypothesis in
metaphysics, and not in physics. It was brought mainly by Aristotle and
even more by its followers.

What can be shown, is that if we assume Digital Mechanism in the cognitive
science, then the physical cannot be ontological, and physics has to be
reduced to the psychology, or better the theology of the digital machine.
My contribution shows this testable, and the physical observations, up to
now,  favour the non existence of primary matter (as amazing and
counter-intuive this could seem).

What many people seem to miss is that the notion of universal machine and
the notion of computations (Turing, Post, Church, Kleene) are purely
arithmetical notion. Anyone who is able to believe that (3^3) + (4^3) +
(5^3) = (6^3) is necessarily either true or false even without verifying
which it is, should be able to understand that all computations exists
independently of the existence of anything physical, and then a reasoning
can show that it is easier to explain the illusion of an otological matter
to complex number relation, than to explain the numbers in term of complex
relation between primary matter. In fact it is impossible, and the notion
of primary matter adds unnecessary insuperable difficulties in the
“mind-body” problem.

Now, Landauer, and others, have given some evidence that some notion of
information is physical (like quantum information). That does not
contradict the idea that information is not physical. The illusion of
physical appearances is real, obeys laws, and physics is eventually reduced
into an internal statistics on all computations in arithmetic, and that can
explain some special form of physical information (and indeed the quantum
one is already explained in some testable way).

The origin of information comes from the fact that aTuring machine cannot
distinguish the physical reality from the arithmetical reality (which
emulates all computations) except by observation. The machines are
distributed in infinitely many exemplars in arithmetic, and that defines a
sort of indexical differentiating consciousness flux, leading to
(collective) sharable deep dreams which we call the physical.

Now, all this is long to explain, and I’m afraid this can look too much
provocative, if I do not add the proofs and much more explanations. People
can consult my papers, but needs to study a bit of mathematical logic.

Physicalism/materialism is a long lasting habit of thought, and, as I have
experienced my whole life, some materialist defend the dogma with more
integrism and violence than some (pseudo)-religious radicals in history.

Once we assume mechanism, all we need to assume to get both mind and matter
is *any* universal machine or machinery, and then the usual platonic
epistemological definitions can be used (but they can also be motivated
through some thought experience).
For the universal machinery, I use (very) elementary arithmetic, because
everyone is familiar with them, and can accept that “17 is prime” is true
independently of them, which would not be the case with ((K K) K) = K in
combinators theory (generally not known). But we can derive arithmetic, and
the physical dreams from just very small theories, like

((K x) y) = x
(((S x) y) z) = ((x z) (y z))

(Axioms of the SK-combinators: that is Turing Universal!)

Or, very elementary arithmetic (Peano arithmetic without induction, + the
predecessor axiom), i.e, classical logic +

0 ≠ s(x)
s(x) = s(y) -> x = y
x = 0 v Ey(x = s(y))
x+0 = x
x+s(y) = s(x+y)

That is already a Turing Complete theory.

So information/numbers are independent of the carrier, and the carrier
becomes only an appearance from some self-referential modes of the
universal number or “machine”. Pythagorus was right, at least provably so
in the frame of the Mechanist Hypothesis. Primary Matter is perhaps the
last phlogiston of the human mind. With mechanism, weak materialism is
false, and physics is not the fundamental science. The physical reality
appearance has a *reason*/*explanation* relying on the notion of (Turing)

All the best!


Lou Kauffman
P.S. With this letter, I reach my quota for the week and will remain silent
until next Monday.
If anyone wants a private email conversation, I shall be happy to carry on
in that fashion.

On Apr 25, 2018, at 2:20 AM, Krassimir Markov <> wrote:

Dear Mark and Colleagues,

Very nice “simple question”:  “Is information physical?”

I agree that “letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical
objects are only carriers of information”.

The brain is carrier of information, too.

Now, I think, what we need to clear is another “simple question” closely
interrelated to yours:

Does the information exist without the carrier?

In other words, can the color, speed, weigh, temperature, time, etc., exist
without objects which these characteristics belong to and may be measured
by other objects.

To understand more clearly, let see the case of “time”.

Does the time really exist?

Does the time exist without real regular processes which we may reflect and

The time is falling drops of water, the movement of the pendulum, etc.

One may say, the time is information about all these processes.

OK! But, if these processes do not exist, will we have “time”?

I think, we have a question in two interrelated explanations:

- Is information physical?

- Does the information exist without the carrier?

Friendly greetings


*From:* Burgin, Mark <>

the movement of the pendulum

falling drops of water
*Sent:* Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:47 AM
*Subject:* Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

Dear Colleagues,
I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion
                                      Is information physical?
My opinion is presented below:

   Why some people erroneously think that information is physical

   The main reason to think that information is physical is the strong
belief of many people, especially, scientists that there is only physical
reality, which is studied by science. At the same time, people encounter
something that they call information.
   When people receive a letter, they comprehend that it is information
because with the letter they receive information. The letter is physical,
i.e., a physical object. As a result, people start thinking that
information is physical. When people receive an e-mail, they comprehend
that it is information because with the e-mail they receive information.
The e-mail comes to the computer in the form of electromagnetic waves,
which are physical. As a result, people start thinking even more that
information is physical.
   However, letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical
objects are only carriers or containers of information.
   To understand this better, let us consider a textbook. Is possible to
say that this book is knowledge? Any reasonable person will tell that the
textbook contains knowledge but is not knowledge itself. In the same way,
the textbook contains information but is not information itself. The same
is true for letters, e-mails, electromagnetic waves and other physical
objects because all of them only contain information but are not
information. For instance, as we know, different letters can contain the
same information. Even if we make an identical copy of a letter or any
other text, then the letter and its copy will be different physical objects
(physical things) but they will contain the same information.
   Information belongs to a different (non-physical) world of knowledge,
data and similar essences. In spite of this, information can act on
physical objects (physical bodies) and this action also misleads people who
think that information is physical.
   One more misleading property of information is that people can measure
it. This brings an erroneous assumption that it is possible to measure only
physical essences. Naturally, this brings people to the erroneous
conclusion that information is physical. However, measuring information is
essentially different than measuring physical quantities, i.e., weight.
There are no “scales” that measure information. Only human intellect can do
   It is possible to find more explanations that information is not
physical in the general theory of information.
Mark Burgin

On 4/24/2018 10:46 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:

Dear FIS Colleagues,

A very interesting discussion theme has been proposed by Mark Burgin --he
will post at his early convenience.
Thanks are due to Alberto for his "dataism" piece. Quite probably we will
need to revisit that theme, as it is gaining increasing momentum in present
"information societies", in science as well as in everyday life...
Thanks also to Sung for his interesting viewpoint and references.

Best wishes to all,

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation

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