Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the cateogry theory

2018-02-14 Thread Loet Leydesdorff

Dear Koichiro and colleagues,

The ancient Greeks had several notions of time. The main point for our 
discussion seems to me the distinction between historical time and event 
time. Trajectories, for example, can be formed in historical time by 
series of relations; trajectories are observable. Among other things, 
they can be shaped by languaging.

I agree that language uses another time. It is not a trajectory, but a 
regime. The difference is that a trajectory can be shaped, for example, 
along a life-cycle, whereas a regime is a next-order change like life or 
death. The next-order operation leaves a footprint in historical time; 
however, it is part of an evolutionary dynamics. This dynamics is not 
directly observable, but only available as an informed hypothesis which 
can be tested against the events/non-events in historical time.


Loet Leydesdorff

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

Guest Professor Zhejiang Univ. , 
Hangzhou; Visiting Professor, ISTIC, 

Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck , University of London;

-- Original Message --
From: "Koichiro Matsuno" 
To: "Fis," 
Sent: 2/15/2018 5:53:23 AM
Subject: Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based 
on the cateogry theory

On 8 Feb 2018 at 4:05 PM, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:

From a biological perspective, not language itself, but “languaging” 
behavior is considered the system of reference.

On 13 Feb 2018 at 7:01 PM, Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic wrote:

As in biology thre are different kinds of organisms there are also 
different kinds of “languages”.


   Focusing upon languaging comes to shed light on the communication in 
time between whatever parties. The issue of time then reminds me of the 
oft-quoted Aristotelian aphorism on the vulgar nature of time. As 
calling attention to the nonexistence of both past and future at the 
present moment of now, Aristotle observed “the present now is not part 
of time at all, for a part measures the whole, and the whole must be 
made up of the parts, but we cannot say that time is made up of ‘nows’ 
(Physics Book 4, 218a)”. Thus, “there is a something pertaining to time 
which is indivisible, and this something is what we mean by the 
‘present’ or ‘now’ (234a)”. One outcome from these observations is 
simply a metaphysical aporia as pointing to that time both does and 
does not exist.

   One common-sense strategy getting out of the metaphysical impasse, 
which Aristotle would also seem to ‘reluctantly’ share, might be to 
view time as a linear succession of the now-points thanks to the 
additional idea of the levelling-off of the now points. This limiting 
procedure may help us to forget about the underlying aporia for the 
time being. But the contrast between languaging and language may revive 
our concern on whether we could dismiss the vulgar nature of time in a 
sweeping manner in a positive sense. So far, language has seemed to be 
quite at home with time as the linear succession of the  now points. 
That is so even in physics as we know it today. However, once the 
aspect of languaging is called up, the temporality of languaging may be 
found to differ from that of language. Languaging is not continuous, 
but distinctively discontinuous in distinguishing between the utterer 
and its potential respondent. Alternation of the role between utterer 
and respondent proceeds discretely temporally. (Bio)semiotician may 
seem to be sensitive to this issue of time.

   Koichiro Matsuno

Fis mailing list

Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the cateogry theory

2018-02-14 Thread Guy A Hoelzer
Hi Christophe,

I completely agree that there is an important distinction between the 
communication between attached beams and the semantic communication between 
agents.  Like you, I have long been interested in the evolution of biological 
signaling systems.  My dissertation research included explorations of the 
potential meaning attached to courtship displays by a damselfish species.  In 
the decades since I did that work, my view of communication has broadened.  
Semantics is context dependent and is manifested internally by the agents 
(perception), which makes it very hard to study empirically.  The best I could 
do, and I think this may be a general limitation, was to model the hypothetical 
semantic content of a signal, naively predict how the perceiver ‘should’ 
respond to the hypothetically encoded meaning, and judge whether the empirical 
data fit my model of the system.  Note that I did my dissertation research at a 
time when the leading idea was that  all signals were deceptive devices for 
maximizing personal fitness (e.g., Krebs and Davies, 1984).  My observational 
and experimental work on this system led me to think more deeply about the 
evolution of signaling systems, and I proposed the following:

  *   individuals assess all of the information they perceive, some of which 
represents signals expressed by other individuals
  *   far more information about individuals can be useful than the information 
‘packaged’ in a signal
  *   individuals signal to other individuals in unconventional ways, in 
addition to conventional ways (evolved signaling systems)
  *   evolved, codified kinds of signals generally started as one of those 
unconventional kinds of signals that conferred fitness gains for both the 
signaler and the perceiver, on average
  *   such useful signals tend to persist and they have an opportunity for 
adaptive fine-tuning, morphological integration (e.g., a color patch used for 
display), and amplification
  *   I think these become the classical animal signaling systems we are so 
familiar with

So, for me, codified semantic signals are embedded in, and deeply connected to, 
a sea of information about other individuals.  Such signals may be anywhere 
along a spectrum from simple information transfer (similar to the beams) to 
semantically-based language.  Semantics is a fascinating and important target 
of study, but I think limiting our terminology to that domain misleadingly 
suggests that it is more disconnected from less formalized modes of 
communication than it really is.  I also think it suggests that semantic 
communication is more disconnected from the universal physico-chemical laws 
than it really is.  I prefer to think of semantic communication as a subset of 
all communication, and I see value in understanding the information transfer 
between connected beams as sharing some fundamental similarities to semantic 



On Feb 14, 2018, at 3:05 PM, Christophe Menant 
> wrote:

Yes Guy,
Unconsciously I take communications as related to meaning generation.
But, as you say, we could use the word for the two beams attached to each other 
with bolts and that ‘communicate’ relatively to the strength of the building.
The difference may be in the purpose of the communication, in the constraint 
justifying its being.
The ‘communication’ between the two beams is about maintaining them together, 
satisfying physical laws (that exist everywhere). It comes from the decision of 
the architect who is constrained to get a building that stands up. The 
constraint is with the architect, not with the beams that only obey physical 
In the case of living entities the constraints are locally present in the 
organisms (‘stay alive’). The constraint is not in the environment of the 
organism. And the constraint addresses more than physico-chemical laws.
If there is meaning generation for constraint satisfaction in the case of 
organisms, it is difficult to talk the same for the two beams.
This introduces the locality of constraints as a key subject in the evolution 
of our universe. It is an event that emerged from the a-biotic universe 
populated with physico-chemical laws valid everywhere.
Another subject interesting to many of us
All the best

De : Guy A Hoelzer >
Envoyé : mardi 13 février 2018 18:18
À : Foundations of Information Science Information Science
Cc : Terry Deacon; Christophe Menant
Objet : Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the 
cateogry theory

Hi All,

I want to pick on Christophe’s post to make a general plea about FIS posting.  
This is not a comment on meaning generation by agents.  Christophe  wrote:

"Keeping in mind that communications exist only because agents need to manage 
meanings for given purposes”.

This seems to imply that we have 

Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the cateogry theory

2018-02-14 Thread Christophe Menant
Dear Soren,
Thanks for your comments.
Interpretation and agency are indeed key items. An approach based on internal 
constraint saisfactiont allows to address them together, with autonomy also.
In a few words:
An agent is an entity submitted to internal constraints and capable of actions 
for the satisfaction of the constraints (ex: animals submitted to a ‘stay 
alive’ constraint).
An autonomous agent can satisfy its internal constraints by its own.
Interpretation is meaning generation by an agent when it receives information 
that has a connection with a constraint. The generated meaning is precisely 
that connection. It will be used for the determination of an action that the 
agent will implement to satisfy the constraint.
Normativity and teleology can also be added to the ‘internal constraints’ 
More details on these subjects at where the 
contributions of Peirce and Uexkull are highlighted.
However, the concept of internal constraint is not enough to understand the 
relations between animals and human minds. Philosophy of mind makes available 
several entry points (the hard problem, phenomenal consciousness, qualia, first 
person perspective, transcendental/empiric self, transitive/untransitive 
self-consciousness, .. ).
What is interesting is that these entry points need to consider more or less 
explicitly some aspect of self-consciousness. This is why I look at a possible 
evolutionary nature of self consciousness based on an evolution of meaningful 
representations where meaning generation comes in again (in above ref also).
A lot is to be done on these interesting subjects..
All the Best

De : Søren Brier 
Envoyé : mardi 13 février 2018 15:22
À : Christophe Menant; Terrence W. DEACON
Cc : FIS Group
Objet : RE: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the 
cateogry theory

Dear Christophé

I think you hit on a most interesting problem of how to establish 
interpretation and agency in a philosophical framework that is compatible trans 
disciplinarily from the natural over the social and into the human sciences, 
here especially encompassing phenomenological and hermeneutical descriptions of 
meaningful perception, cognition and communication. The interpreter in Peirce 
is described as a phenomenological triadic process, but I agree with you  that 
the embodiment is not well described in the Peircean framework. Therefore 
biosemiotics are integrating Peircean semiotics with Bateson concept of mind,  
Uexkülls funktionskreis and Maturana’ and Varela’s autopoietic models. Uexküll 
has similarities with the cybernetics that inform autopoiesis theory. Neither 
has a full philosophy  with a phenomenological grounding as Peirce. I do not 
think that cybernetics have a theory of experiential mind, Von Foerster has a 
few reflections on cognition in his establishing of second order cybernetics 
not encompassing the experiential aspect, the quality problem or the problem of 
spontaneity that must be there to establish agency, which are all theory in 
Peirce’s idea of the self as a symbolic process. Uexküll seems to have a 
phenomenological idea of experiential mind in order to establish his Umwelt 
concept, but how that is related to the biologically described body is still 
not clear for me. Uexküll seem to be an anti-evolutionary sort of Platonist. 
The relation between animals and human are not clear to me. I do not think he 
has a full philosophy. So the problem is how we establish an ontological view 
encompassing natural science, evolution and the phenomenology of experiential 
mind’s agency. Process philosophy seems to be a way out and so far only Peirce 
and Whitehead has produced acceptable ones and of those only Peirce has 
produced a semiotics. I wonder in which ontology you establish your concept of 



From: Fis [] On Behalf Of Christophe Menant
Sent: 13. februar 2018 14:20
To: Terrence W. DEACON 
Cc: FIS Group 
Subject: Re: [Fis] The unification of the theories of information based on the 
cateogry theory

Dear Terry and FISers,
It looks indeed reasonable to position the term 'language' as ‘simply referring 
to the necessity of a shared medium of communication’. Keeping in mind that 
communications exist only because agents need to manage meanings for given 
And the concept of agent can be an entry point for a ‘general theory of 
information’ as it does not make distinctions.
The Peircean triadic approach is also an available framework (but with, alas, a 
limited development of the Interpreter).
I choose to use agents capable of meaning generation, having some compatibility 
with the Peircean approach and with the Biosemiotics 

All the best