Dear colleagues,

Not only logic, but also language is not directly and one-to-one coupled to physics. The hidden positivism of claiming priority for physics by some of us, is at odds with the linguistic turn in the philosophy of science. Furthermore, the issue is not directly related to the definition of information as probablistic entropy or otherwise.

I agree with most of what Lou Kauffman said, but:

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.
The emphasis in the above remains on the individual sensing and feeling, mediated by measurement. However, scientific observation is not such immediate feeling, but careful and discursively constructed articulations of expectations which are tested against observations. The cocon of language (a la Maturana) is opened at specific places which are carefully reasoned. The feelings do enter only after having been articulated into observational reports. The latter contain knowledge claims which are validated discursively. No escape! The observations enable us to improve the codification in the specialist language (jargon).

Physics is part of this edifice of science. It has no privileged access to reality, but constructs its own reality. Nobody senses the particles at CERN. The observational reports are readings from an instrument which have to be discussed before one can interpret.

If any science can claim priority, it is communication studies. The specialist languages are shaped in processes of communication. How does this work? Can it be improved?


5. Beyond those places where significant related pairs of opposites that cannot be separated (complementarities) occur there is our (in at least my tradition)
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 understanding.

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) universality.

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 compare?

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 this. 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 Group

<> Libre de virus. <>

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