Dear Mark and Colleagues,

The question “Is information physical?” is very important as well as so 
important are the questions “Is information chemical?”, “Is information 
mechanical?”, “Is information electronic?”, and etc. .

All questions above may be summarized to “Is information real?” and, of course, 
the question “Is information mental?” immediately rises! 

My answer to all these question is “YES!”.

At the first place, let me remember what is “Real” and what is “Mental”.

I have written, that our brains are prisoners in the Plato sense (remember the 
Plato “Prisoners in the cave”). 
All what is outside the brain is reflected true the receptors (sensors). 

So, the “Real” is what exists outside my brain and “Mental” is what is inside 
of my brain.

Taking in account current knowledge about brain, we may say that the same 
classification may be applied for the brain subsystems. 

The Right brain hemisphere is outside of the Left one. 
So the first is “Real” for the second and vice versa, and corresponded 
“internal brain receptors” exist. 
Going further, we may see the same for the different zones of the Right and 
Left hemispheres.

My brain is outside of yours as well as your brains are outside of mine. 

And what is “Mental” for you is “Real” for me.

The conclusion is: “The information is “Real” or “Mental” depending of point of 

To be continued...

Friendly greetings


From: John Collier 
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2018 1:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? OR Does the information exist 
without the carrier?

Dear group,

I think that linguistic philosophy is largely thought now to be a dead end. I 
agree with the second point, though.

I especially agree with Loet's point in response to Lou Kauffman. Scientific 
measurement, not to even mention testing of hypotheses.

My preference rather than for communications studies is general systems theory, 
which applies to all levels. I don't think a full reduction to physics, even in 
some physical sciences like mineralogy, is possible.


On 2018/04/28 8:28 AM, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:

  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 

  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 
    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 
          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 <> 

            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, 

            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. 


Fis mailing list

            Fis mailing list

            Fis mailing list

          Fis mailing list

        Fis mailing list

      Fis mailing list


Fis mailing list

John Collier
Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Associate
Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
Collier web page 

Fis mailing list
Fis mailing list

Reply via email to