Deletion, creation and movement

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Steve3007
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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Steve3007 » May 19th, 2020, 3:54 am

Belindi wrote:Can I take it Steve, who deals professionally in information as abstract systems, would agree information systems apply to material events without which they might be fun but but would mean nothing but entertaining mental exercises?
I see what you mean but I wouldn't put it quite like that. You seem to be talking about the difference between recreation and practical use. For example, doing maths puzzles for fun versus using maths as a practical tool. That's not the subject that was being discussed earlier.

I think the subject being discussed over the last page or so was the extent to which it is meaningful to consider information in the absence of its physical medium of transmission and storage. The proposition "information exists on its own" was considered. I'm still waiting to find out what anyone might mean by that proposition. I thought it might mean the same thing as the proposition "software exists without hardware" but I'm told that it doesn't. (Clearly software doesn't exist without hardware, but that doesn't stop us from considering software without explicitly considering the hardware.)

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Steve3007 » May 19th, 2020, 5:04 am

Belindi wrote:Similarly, and Spinoza-wise, nature would mean nothing at all unless nature takes an object.
So, in your view, Spinoza was talking about instantiation?

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Belindi » May 19th, 2020, 5:53 am

Steve3007 wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 5:04 am
Belindi wrote:Similarly, and Spinoza-wise, nature would mean nothing at all unless nature takes an object.
So, in your view, Spinoza was talking about instantiation?
In my view, nature is more than instantiation and is everything that exists plus how it exists.
I suggested natura naturata is the things of nature i.e. everything that exists, and natura naturans is how it exists.

In the case of hard determinism, yes , Spinoza was talking about instantiation.
I don't know if your work in soft ware is based on determinism or not I assume it is.I can't think of anything that illustrates determinism more than maths or formal logic.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Belindi » May 19th, 2020, 6:09 am

Steve3007 wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 3:54 am
Belindi wrote:Can I take it Steve, who deals professionally in information as abstract systems, would agree information systems apply to material events without which they might be fun but but would mean nothing but entertaining mental exercises?
I see what you mean but I wouldn't put it quite like that. You seem to be talking about the difference between recreation and practical use. For example, doing maths puzzles for fun versus using maths as a practical tool. That's not the subject that was being discussed earlier.

I think the subject being discussed over the last page or so was the extent to which it is meaningful to consider information in the absence of its physical medium of transmission and storage. The proposition "information exists on its own" was considered. I'm still waiting to find out what anyone might mean by that proposition. I thought it might mean the same thing as the proposition "software exists without hardware" but I'm told that it doesn't. (Clearly software doesn't exist without hardware, but that doesn't stop us from considering software without explicitly considering the hardware.)
Yes. I imagine physical means of transmission and storage of information of information is one excellent example of information's being an aspect of which physical means in general is one way to see the other aspect, which is the material studied by means of information about it. Certainly anyone can focus on the concept of the informational aspect of nature if they want to. That occupation is meaningful for me because I like to think of it as a necessary aspect of nature itself. Of course I can't know information as an academic discipline as I suppose you can.

I like metaphysics while a lot of other people think metaphysics is nonsense.

Two aspects of the brain-mind is one application of twin aspects.Brain-mind can be studied, clinically treated, or thought of as anatomical brain, subjective mind, or a twin aspect whole.The soft ware expert is analogous to the psychiatrist, while the hardware expert is analogous to the brain surgeon or the pharmacist.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Terrapin Station » May 19th, 2020, 7:05 am

Belindi wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 3:36 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 18th, 2020, 9:45 am


Sure, I'd agree with that, but that's yet another in a long list of definitions for "information" that I've never even heard suggested as a definition before. That was one of the problems I noted. People suggest so many different definitions for it--I've literally encountered hundreds of different suggestions; it's far more rare that two people suggest the same definition--that the term is vague when used, because you never know what someone has in mind by it.
Information, as I understand the term, takes an object and makes no sense without an object of the information.So any 'law of nature' i.e. bit of information is about something extramental i.e. something that exists materially.
Can I take it Steve, who deals professionally in information as abstract systems, would agree information systems apply to material events without which they might be fun but but would mean nothing but entertaining mental exercises?

God, for instance, would mean nothing at all unless he takes an object e.g. God creates, God destroys, God takes revenge, God fathers us , God makes the crops grow, God lives in Heaven, and so forth.

Similarly, and Spinoza-wise, nature would mean nothing at all unless nature takes an object. The objects of nature are natura naturata, and what makes them come into existence, die, deactivate, shed their skins , and so forth is natura naturans.

Similarly, and Greta-wise,
Energy too can be thought of as just an abstraction, being reality doing things in certain ways. Energy cannot exist in its own right without some being in some kind of form or configuration. Likewise, all studies of energy concern themselves with energy's configuration. There is no such thing as stuff without a configuration.
If we look at general dictionary definitions of "information," words like "knowledge" and phrases like "what is communicated" are fairly common.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 19th, 2020, 2:08 pm

Greta
Energy too can be thought of as just an abstraction, being reality doing things in certain ways.

I'm open to the idea that at some fundamental level information can be a real thing in itself, that what we call/recognise as particles, energy, waves can be more fundamentally better described as a sort of manifestation of information.


But barring that, I think it's a misnomer to call those things information, as if that is their 'substance', with the properties we associate with substances and forces. I'd say information has no properties in its own right, because it's a type of framing or description we apply to real stuff. Information is always about something, not a thing in itself.

So while we, conscious critters, can create abstract conceptions such as talking about energy doing things as ''information'', what actually exists is stuff doing things in certain ways.

Energy cannot exist in its own right without some being in some kind of form or configuration. Likewise, all studies of energy concern themselves with energy's configuration. There is no such thing as stuff without a configuration.

Right, sorry if I wasn't clear. What exists is stuff (eg energy, a computer, a toaster, a person) and what it does. We can describe what stuff does, or its internal constituents/processes, as a configuration of that stuff.

Consider an electron. A point of energy, yet it can hold different information concerning charge and spin. Try to find an electron without these attributes.

Well I think saying it 'holds information like charge and spin'' is ambiguous, and what its really saying that charge and spin are properties of an electron, or what it does. That's real. Would you agree, or do you think there's more to it?

An entity may be highly dense but relatively simple, or it may be lightweight but informationally dense.

I think that saying something is informationally dense, in actuality means there are a lot of ways it can be described. Akin to Shannon information mentioned by Alta (as I understand it). Eg a complex constructions or processes can be described in more ways than simple ones. It's a framing involving describing a real thing/process, not an actual constituent of a real thing or process.


So when when we say a computer 'processes information' there is real stuff (the hardware) doing real things in specific ways (configurations). And if we manipulate that stuff to produce something meaningful to us, then that is communicated, like this post, in the form of a configuration of pixels creating symbols that we as conscious beings understand by decoding those symbols. It's us conscious peeps who make it an act of communicating (informing) facts/opinions/whatev, not a property of the computer hardware. (See Searle's Chinese Room).


And back to my hobby horse! When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example). As far as I can see anyway. Maybe it does at some as yet unknown fundamental level of how stuff works, but that would be speculative.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Greta » May 19th, 2020, 6:01 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 2:08 pm
And back to my hobby horse! When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example). As far as I can see anyway. Maybe it does at some as yet unknown fundamental level of how stuff works, but that would be speculative.
Well, brains certainly do process information.

For the panpsychist school of IIT, qualia is what it feels like to process information. Fair enough, no one has any better ideas. As you know from Consul's and my extended debates, I do not agree with the usual assertion that brains alone create qualia from a blank slate. In lieu of evidence either way, there can be no conclusive decision on this. It's not enough that brain states correlate with thoughts. Nor is it enough that numerous brainless organisms behave as though they are conscious. There's the rub.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 20th, 2020, 3:41 am

Greta wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 6:01 pm
Gertie wrote:
May 19th, 2020, 2:08 pm
And back to my hobby horse! When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example). As far as I can see anyway. Maybe it does at some as yet unknown fundamental level of how stuff works, but that would be speculative.
Well, brains certainly do process information.

For the panpsychist school of IIT, qualia is what it feels like to process information. Fair enough, no one has any better ideas. As you know from Consul's and my extended debates, I do not agree with the usual assertion that brains alone create qualia from a blank slate. In lieu of evidence either way, there can be no conclusive decision on this. It's not enough that brain states correlate with thoughts. Nor is it enough that numerous brainless organisms behave as though they are conscious. There's the rub.
Would you agree or disagree with this claim -

When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).

If you disagree, based on what? Some theory of information as a 'thing in itself' with its own properties (ie a causal role in the manifestation of phenomenal mental states)? Or...?

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Steve3007 » May 20th, 2020, 3:55 am

Belindi wrote:Certainly anyone can focus on the concept of the informational aspect of nature if they want to.
So if somebody works in a field that is often referred to as "Information Technology" and, as a result of that, they often talk about the manipulation of information without constantly adding a caveat of the form "information needs a physical medium of transmission and storage you know", I presume you wouldn't conclude that they think that "information exists on its own"?

That appears, on the face of it, to be what Atla, at least, concludes. An odd conclusion, I think.

As I said in a post way back now. If I talk about a Microsoft Operating System called Windows, I don't feel the need to periodically say "they're not made of glass". I assume that is known.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Belindi » May 20th, 2020, 4:55 am

Steve3007 wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 3:55 am
Belindi wrote:Certainly anyone can focus on the concept of the informational aspect of nature if they want to.
So if somebody works in a field that is often referred to as "Information Technology" and, as a result of that, they often talk about the manipulation of information without constantly adding a caveat of the form "information needs a physical medium of transmission and storage you know", I presume you wouldn't conclude that they think that "information exists on its own"?

That appears, on the face of it, to be what Atla, at least, concludes. An odd conclusion, I think.

As I said in a post way back now. If I talk about a Microsoft Operating System called Windows, I don't feel the need to periodically say "they're not made of glass". I assume that is known.
Right Steve. I would not infer they think information exists on its own.
I wonder if Atla is a sort of Platonist.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Steve3007 » May 20th, 2020, 4:57 am

I wonder if Atla is a sort of Platonist.
No. The opposite.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Terrapin Station » May 20th, 2020, 7:55 am

Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 3:41 am

When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
One common way to use the term "information" is as more or less a synonym for "data" in the sense of, say, a list of "values" ("values" in the sense of specifics plugged into a variable).

So, for example, with real estate, we might have data such as "255 Main Street," "316 Elm Street," "zoned commercial," "two-car garage," "unfinished basement," "Fred Jones," etc. That's information. But that's different than processing that information. We might process it, either mentally or by aid of a computer, by matching features with addresses, or matching criteria with clients, or whatever.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 20th, 2020, 10:55 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 7:55 am
Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 3:41 am

When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
One common way to use the term "information" is as more or less a synonym for "data" in the sense of, say, a list of "values" ("values" in the sense of specifics plugged into a variable).

So, for example, with real estate, we might have data such as "255 Main Street," "316 Elm Street," "zoned commercial," "two-car garage," "unfinished basement," "Fred Jones," etc. That's information. But that's different than processing that information. We might process it, either mentally or by aid of a computer, by matching features with addresses, or matching criteria with clients, or whatever.
We might yes, because we are conscious beings who can think and feel about things in different ways. We can bring meaning, value, categorise, communicate, conceptualise and so on. We can manipulate a computer's processes to do some of those tasks for us, in ways which mimic or are compatible with our thinking.


My claim is that the stuff and processes of a toaster, computer, tree or brain are comprised of... stuff and forces. We can call a bunch of bricks a home, or specifically Fred's home at 225 with two bathrooms, because conscious creatures can create such meaningful framing as the function of those bricks in relation to us. That information of Fred's-hominess isn't located within the brick, we create that framing. We can call a computer or brain an information processor, but that doesn't point to anything in addition to stuff and forces imo. There is no independantly existing stuff called information. Searle makes the distinction between meaningful semantics and syntactical processes. You and I as conscious beings understand these messages we're posting and find them meaningful (more or less!), but as far as we know our computers don't.


Now obviously that consciousness comes from somewhere. And some people suggest information processing could be at the heart of that, and we can see a similarity with hardware/software. To think seriously about that we need to pin down what exactly is meant by information processing. And then see what that implies about how consciousness might or might not work.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Terrapin Station » May 20th, 2020, 12:52 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 10:55 am
There is no independantly existing stuff called information.
I agree with that, but how does it amount to it not making sense to forward an information versus information processing distinction?

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 20th, 2020, 4:34 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 12:52 pm
Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 10:55 am
There is no independantly existing stuff called information.
I agree with that, but how does it amount to it not making sense to forward an information versus information processing distinction?
In a nutshell, ''information processing'' is stuff in motion isn't it?

The notion of information and information processing can make sense to us conscious beings who are capable of understanding and conceptualising things in abstracted terms, and be incredibly useful to us.


I'm suggesting 'information' and 'information processing' is no more than an abstracted interpretation we put on material processes, rather than it being an intrinsic property of that stuff and processes. A computer's hardware isn't made of units of information, because a unit of pure information is an abstraction. We thinking humans can conceptualise those abstractions, encode and manipulate them for our purposes, using a pen and paper or a computer, and give them meaning. Like your example. But a computer itself doesn't. It is made of stuff, and a working computer is that stuff in motion. Likewise a brain. Or a toaster or a daffodil.


When we talk about brains as encoding and processing information from our sensory systems interacting with the world, which apparently correlates with our phenomenal conscious experience, of eg seeing a red apple, we think wow, that's like how a computer encodes information, processes it, and out comes something meaningful. But I suggest we're really still only talking about stuff (brain stuff) in motion. Nothing extra is added by calling that stuff in motion 'information processing' that I can see. It doesn't magically create consciousness because we can abstractly conceptualise about what is actually going on - brain cells exchanging electrochemical charges.


What is striking and looks relevant imo, is the apparent uniformity of the simple neuron cells, the stuff, and the unimaginably gob-smacking complexity of the processes. You can describe those processes as 'informationally dense'', but I think that's just another way of saying it can be described in lots of ways, and that just means the processes are... complex.


The caveat to all that is... there might be something more fundamental, more real, about information than our current material understanding of how the world works.

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