Dear Soren,
What I try to say is that the Piercean triadic pragmatic semiotics includes 
‘meaning’ as generated by the Interpreter but does not tell much about the 
nature of that meaning. And this lack makes difficult to adress questions like: 
what is the reason of being of a meaning?, what can be its content? its 
purpose?, what are its relations with information?, how can it be applied to 
animals and humans (and to AAs)?,  is a meaning always meaningful? and for 
which entities?, ...
Theses questions should be part, I feel, of a transdiciplinarity semiotic 
process philosophy. And I don’t see very well how they can be taken into 
account without the availability of a description or modeling of the 
Did I miss something?

De : Søren Brier <>
Envoyé : vendredi 25 mai 2018 13:13
À : Christophe Menant;
Objet : RE: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Christoph

I am not sure what you mean. In my understanding the important dynamics in 
Peirce’s pragmaticist semiotics is that symbols grow and create habits in a web 
of signs in nature as well as in culture viewing the central dynamic process in 
the cosmos as well as man  to be of symbolic nature that through evolution and 
history develops reasoning in many interlocking dimension.



From: Christophe Menant <>
Sent: 25. maj 2018 09:08
To: Søren Brier <>;
Subject: RE: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Soren,
You are right to recall that a transdisciplinary theory of cognition and 
communication has to include meaning. But I’m not sure that the Peircean 
approach is enough for that.
The triad (Object, Sign, Interpretant) positions the Interpretant as being the 
meaning of the Sign created by the Interpreter. But Peirce does not tell much 
about a possible content of the Interpreter. He does not tell what is for him a 
process of meaning generation. And this, I feel,  should bring us to be 
cautious about using Peirce in subjects dealing with meaning generation.


De : Fis <<>> de 
la part de Søren Brier <<>>
Envoyé : jeudi 24 mai 2018 17:44
À : Loet Leydesdorff; Burgin, Mark; Krassimir Markov;<>
Objet : Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Mark, Loet and others

My point was that all the aspects I mention are part of a reality that is 
bigger than what we can grasp under the realm of physical science. Reality is 
bigger than physicalism. Quantitative forms of information measurements can be 
useful in many ways, but they are not sufficient for at transdisciplinary 
theory of cognition and communication. As Loet write then we have to include 
meaning. In what framework can we do that? The natural science do not have 
experience and meaning in their conceptual foundations. We can try to develop a 
logical approach like Mark and Peirce do. Where Mark stays in the structural 
dimension and Loet wants to  enter res cogitans by probability measures, , 
maybe because a  philosophical framework that does not allow meaning to be 
real. But Peirce keeps working with the metaphysical stipulations until he 
reaches a framework that can integrate experience, meaning and logic in one 
theory, namely his triadic pragmaticist semiotics. I am fascinated by it 
because I think it is unique, but many researcher do not want to use it, 
because its change in metaphysics in developing out of Descartes dualism, all 
though most of us agrees that it is too limited to work in the modern 
scientific ontology of irreversible time, that Prigogine developed. Who other 
than Peirce has developed on non-dualist non-foundationalist transdisciplinary 
semiotic process philosophy integrating animal (biosemiotics), human evolution, 
history and language development in a consistent theory of the development of 
human consciousness?



<<>> On Behalf Of Loet 
Sent: 24. maj 2018 07:45
To: Burgin, Mark <<>>; Søren 
Brier <<>>; Krassimir Markov 
Subject: Re[2]: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Mark, Soren, and colleagues,

The easiest distinction is perhaps Descartes' one between res cogitans and res 
extensa as two different realities. Our knowledge in each case that things 
could have been different is not out there in the world as something seizable 
such as piece of wood.

Similarly, uncertainty in the case of a distribution is not seizable, but it 
can be expressed in bits of information (as one measure among others). The 
grandiose step of Shannon was, in my opinion, to enable us to operationalize 
Descartes' cogitans and make it amenable to the measurement as information.

Shannon-type information is dimensionless. It is provided with meaning by a 
system of reference (e.g., an observer or a discourse). Some of us prefer to 
call only thus-meaningful information real information because it is embedded. 
One can also distinguish it from Shannon-type information as Bateson-type 
information. The latter can be debated as physical.

In the ideal case of an elastic collision of "billard balls", the physical 
entropy (S= kB * H) goes to zero. However, if two particles have a distribution 
of momenta of 3:7 before a head-on collision, this distribution will change in 
the ideal case into 7:3. Consequently, the probabilistic entropy is .7 log2 
(.7/.3) + .3 log2 (.3/.7) =  .86 – .37 = .49 bits of information. One thus can 
prove that this information is not physical.




Loet Leydesdorff

Professor emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) <> ;
Associate Faculty, SPRU, <> University of Sussex;

Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ.<>, Hangzhou; 
Visiting Professor, ISTIC, <> Beijing;

Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck<>, University of London;

------ Original Message ------

From: "Burgin, Mark" <<>>

To: "Søren Brier" <<>>; "Krassimir Markov" 

Sent: 5/24/2018 4:23:53 AM

Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Søren,
You response perfectly supports my analysis. Indeed, for you only the Physical 
World is real. So, information has to by physical if it is real, or it cannot 
be real if it is not physical.
Acceptance of a more advanced model of the World, which includes other 
realities, as it was demonstrated in my book “Structural Reality,” allows 
understand information as real but not physical.


On 5/17/2018 3:29 AM, Søren Brier wrote:

Dear Mark

Using ’physical’ this way it just tends to mean ’real’, but that raises the 
problem of how to define real. Is chance real? I Gödel’s theorem or mathematics 
and logic in general (the world of form)? Is subjectivity and self-awareness, 
qualia? I do believe you are a conscious subject with feelings, but I cannot 
feel it, see it, measure it. Is it physical then?? I only see what you write 
and your behavior. And are the meaning of your sentences physical? So here we 
touch phenomenology (the experiential) and hermeneutics (meaning and 
interpretation) and more generally semiotics (the meaning of signs in cognition 
and communication). We have problems encompassing these aspects in the natural, 
the quantitative and the technical sciences that makes up the foundation of 
most conceptions of information science.



Fra: Fis <><> På 
vegne af Krassimir Markov
Sendt: 17. maj 2018 11:33
Til:<>; Burgin, Mark 
Emne: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

Dear Mark and FIS Colleagues,

First of all. I support the idea of Mark to write a paper and to publish it in 

It will be nice to continue our common work this way.

At the second place, I want to point that till now the discussion on

Is information physical?

was more-less chaotic – we had no thesis and antithesis to discuss and to come 
to some conclusions.

I think now, the Mark’s letter may be used as the needed thesis.

What about the ant-thesis? Well, I will try to write something below.

For me, physical, structural and mental  are one and the same.

Mental means physical reflections and physical processes in the Infos 
consciousness. I.e. “physical” include “mental”.

Structure (as I understand this concept) is mental reflection of the 
relationships “between” and/or “in” real (physical) entities as well as 
“between” and/or “in” mental (physical) entities.

I.e. “physical” include “mental” include “structural”.

Finally, IF  “information is physical, structural and mental” THEN simply the  
“information is physical”!

Friendly greetings


From: Burgin, Mark<>

Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:20 AM


Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical? A logical analysis

   Dear FISers,
   It was an interesting discussion, in which many highly intelligent and 
creative individuals participated expressing different points of view. Many 
interesting ideas were suggested. As a conclusion to this discussion, I would 
like to suggest a logical analysis of the problem based on our intrinsic and 
often tacit assumptions.

   To great extent, our possibility to answer the question “Is information 
physical? “ depends on our model of the world. Note that here physical means 
the nature of information and not its substance, or more exactly, the substance 
of its carrier, which can be physical, chemical biological or quantum. By the 
way, expression “quantum information” is only the way of expressing that the 
carrier of information belongs to the quantum level of nature. This is similar 
to the expressions “mixed numbers” or “decimal numbers”, which are only forms 
or number representations and not numbers themselves.

  If we assume that there is only the physical world, we have, at first, to 
answer the question “Does information exist? “ All FISers assume that 
information exists. Otherwise, they would not participate in our discussions. 
However, some people think differently (cf., for example, Furner, J. (2004) 
Information studies without information).

   Now assuming that information exists, we have only one option, namely, to 
admit that information is physical because only physical things exist.
   If we assume that there are two worlds - information is physical, we have 
three options assuming that information exists:
- information is physical
- information is mental
- information is both physical and mental

Finally, coming to the Existential Triad of the World, which comprises three 
worlds - the physical world, the mental world and the world of structures, we 
have seven options assuming that information exists:
- information is physical
- information is mental
- information is structural
- information is both physical and mental
- information is both physical and structural
- information is both structural and mental
- information is physical, structural and mental

The solution suggested by the general theory of information tries to avoid 
unnecessary multiplication of essences suggesting that information (in a 
general sense) exists in all three worlds but … in the physical world, it is 
called energy, in the mental world, it is called mental energy, and in the 
world of structures, it is called information (in the strict sense). This 
conclusion well correlates with the suggestion of Mark Johnson that information 
is both physical and not physical only the general theory of information makes 
this idea more exact and testable.
   In addition, being in the world of structures, information in the strict 
sense is represented in two other worlds by its representations and carriers. 
Note that any representation of information is its carrier but not each carrier 
of information is its representation. For instance, an envelope with a letter 
is a carrier of information in this letter but it is not its representation.
   Besides, it is possible to call all three faces of information by the name 
energy - physical energy, mental energy and structural energy.

   Finally, as many interesting ideas were suggested in this discussion, may be 
Krassimir will continue his excellent initiative combining the most interesting 
contributions into a paper with the title
information physical?
   and publish it in his esteemed Journal.

   Mark Burgin

On 5/11/2018 3:20 AM, Karl Javorszky wrote:

Dear Arturo,

There were some reports in clinical psychology, about 30 years ago, that relate 
to the question whether a machine can pretend to be a therapist. That was the 
time as computers could newly be used in an interactive fashion, and the Rogers 
techniques were a current discovery.

(Rogers developed a dialogue method where one does not address the contents of 
what the patient says, but rather the emotional aspects of the message, assumed 
to be at work in the patient.)

They then said, that in some cases it was indistinguishable, whether a human or 
a machine provides the answer to a patient's elucidations.

Progress since then has surely made possible to create machines that are 
indistinguishable in interaction to humans. Indeed, what is called "expert 
systems ", are widely used in many fields. If the interaction is rational,  
that is: formally equivalent to a logical discussion modi Wittgenstein, the 
difference in: "who arrived at this answer, machinery or a human", becomes 

Artistry, intuition, creativity are presently seen as not possible to translate 
into Wittgenstein sentences. Maybe the inner instincts are not yet well 
understood. But!: there are some who are busily undermining the current 
fundamentals of rational thinking. So there is hope that we shall live to 
experience the ultimate disillusionment,  namely that humans are a 
combinatorial tautology.

Accordingly, may I respectfully express opposing views to what you state: that 
machines and humans are of incompatible builds. There are hints that as far as 
rational capabilities go, the same principles apply. There is a rest, you say, 
which is not of this kind. The counter argument says that irrational processes 
do not take place in organisms, therefore what you refer to belongs to the main 
process, maybe like waste belongs to the organism's principle. This view draws 
a picture of a functional biotope, in which the waste of one kind of organism 
is raw material for a different kind.


<<>> schrieb am Do., 10. Mai 
2018 15:24:

Dear Bruno,
You state:
"IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science,
THEN “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
“physical” becomes a mathematical notion.
...Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
brain/body at that level of description".

The problem of your account is the following:
You say "IF" and "indexical digital mechanism is the HYPOTHESIS".
Therefore, you are talking of an HYPOTHESIS: it is not empirically tested and 
it is not empirically testable.  You are starting with a sort of postulate: I, 
and other people, do not agree with it.  The current neuroscience does not 
state that our brain/body is (or can be replaced by) a digital machine.
In other words, your "IF" stands for something that possibly does not exist in 
our real world.  Here your entire building falls down.

Inviato da Libero Mail per Android

giovedì, 10 maggio 2018, 02:46PM +02:00 da Bruno Marchal<>:

(This mail has been sent previously , but without success. I resend it, with 
minor changes). Problems due to different accounts. It was my first comment to 
Mark Burgin new thread “Is information physical?”.

Dear Mark, Dear Colleagues,

Apology for not answering the mails in the chronological orders, as my new 
computer classifies them in some mysterious way!

This is my first post of the week. I might answer comment, if any, at the end 
of the week.

On 25 Apr 2018, at 03:47, Burgin, Mark 
<<>> wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

                                      Is information physical?

That is an important topic indeed, very close to what I am working on.

My result here is that

IF indexical digital mechanism is correct in the cognitive science,

THEN  “physical” has to be defined entirely in arithmetical term, i.e. 
“physical” becomes a mathematical notion.

The proof is constructive. It shows exactly how to derive physics from 
Arithmetic (the reality, not the theory. I use “reality” instead of “model" 
(logician’s term, because physicists use “model" for “theory").

Indexical digital mechanism is the hypothesis that there is a level of 
description of the brain/body such that I would survive, or “not feel any 
change” if my brain/body is replaced by a digital machine emulating the 
brain/body at that level of description.

Not only information is not physical, but matter, time, space, and all physical 
objects become part of the universal machine phenomenology. Physics is reduced 
to arithmetic, or, equivalently, to any Turing-complete machinery. Amazingly 
Arithmetic (even the tiny semi-computable part of arithmetic) is Turing 
complete (Turing Universal).

The basic idea is that:

1) no universal machine can distinguish if she is executed by an arithmetical 
reality or by a physical reality. And,

2) all universal machines are executed in arithmetic, and they are necessarily 
undetermined on the set of of all its continuations emulated in arithmetic.

That reduces physics to a statistics on all computations relative to my actual 
state, and see from some first person points of view (something I can describe 
more precisely in some future post perhaps).

Put in that way, the proof is not constructive, as, if we are machine, we 
cannot know which machine we are. But Gödel’s incompleteness can be used to 
recover this constructively for a simpler machine than us, like Peano 
arithmetic. This way of proceeding enforces the distinction between first and 
third person views (and six others!).

I have derived already many feature of quantum mechanics from this (including 
the possibility of quantum computer) a long time ago.  I was about sure this 
would refute Mechanism, until I learned about quantum mechanics, which verifies 
all the most startling predictions of Indexical Mechanism, unless we add the 
controversial wave collapse reduction principle.

The curious “many-worlds” becomes the obvious (in arithmetic) many computations 
(up to some equivalence quotient). The weird indeterminacy becomes the simpler 
amoeba like duplication. The non-cloning of matter becomes obvious: as any 
piece of matter is the result of the first person indeterminacy (the first 
person view of the amoeba undergoing a duplication, …) on infinitely many 
computations. This entails also that neither matter appearance nor 
consciousness are Turing emulable per se, as the whole arithmetical 
reality—which is a highly non computable notion as we know since Gödel—plays a 
key role. Note this makes Digital Physics leaning to inconsistency, as it 
implies indexical computationalism which implies the negation of Digital 
Physics (unless my “body” is the entire physical universe, which I rather 

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 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.

OK. The reason is that we can hardly imagine how immaterial or non physical 
objects can alter the physical realm. It is the usual problem faced by dualist 
ontologies. With Indexical computationalism we recover many dualities, but they 
belong to the phenomenologies.

   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.

OK. I think all intellect can do that, not just he human one.

Now, the reason why people believe in the physical is always a form of the 
“knocking table” argument. They knocks on the table and say “you will not tell 
me that this table is unreal”.

I have got so many people giving me that argument, that I have made dreams in 
which I made that argument, or even where I was convinced by that argument … 
until I wake up.

When we do metaphysics with the scientific method, this “dream argument” 
illustrates that seeing, measuring, … cannot prove anything ontological. A 
subjective experience proves only the phenomenological existence of 
consciousness, and nothing more. It shows that although there are plenty of 
strong evidences for a material reality, there are no evidences (yet) for a 
primitive or primary matter (and that is why, I think, Aristotle assumes it 
quasi explicitly, against Plato, and plausibly against Pythagorus).

Mechanism forces a coming back to Plato, where the worlds of ideas is the world 
of programs, or information, or even just numbers, since very elementary 
arithmetic (PA without induction, + the predecessor axiom) is already Turing 
complete (it contains what I have named a Universal Dovetailer: a program which 
generates *and* executes all programs).

So I agree with you: information is not physical. I claim that if we assume 
Mechanism (Indexical computationalism) matter itself is also not *primarily* 
physical: it is all in the “head of the universal machine/number” (so to speak).

And this provides a test for primary matter: it is enough to find if there is a 
discrepancy between the physics that we infer from the observation, and the 
physics that we extract from “the head” of the machine. This took me more than 
30 years of work, but the results obtained up to now is that there is no 
discrepancies. I have compared the quantum logic imposed by incompleteness 
(formally) on the semi-computable (partial recursive, sigma_1) propositions, 
with most quantum logics given by physicists, and it fits rather well.

Best regards,


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