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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on March 22, 2002 17:29:05 UTC

Hi Harv,

I was very pleased to see your note. I had thought that perhaps you had decided to leave the forum and I would consider that loss to be very disturbing. Particularly in view of the fact that Aurino has apparently left for good, I haven't seen anything from Mario for a long time, Alex doesn't comment near as much as he has and Paul seems to do more reading than commenting. I think one of the most disturbing facts is the volume of trash posted by Mike, AKA, occupant, quite, carefuluniverse, spazcon, etc... He seems to be bright but buries his insights in trivial blather. He may or may not be mentally disturbed but from either perspective, he certainly does trash the forum by making it very difficult to follow his thoughts. On the other hand, at times he shows signs of consideration.

Speaking of being mentally disturbed, I am strongly inclined to tolerance on that issue. It seems to me that the only correct answer to any question which can be strongly defended is "I do not know". Anyone who gives any other answer bears a very strong possibility of being wrong.

So welcome back and thanks for the agreement! I am going to archive that paragraph with your answer! Agreement is a rare event around here. By the way, as I have commented to Alan (in an e-mail I think), I am not very bright and I have to think things out one line at a time. I am very easily confused and I must make every effort to understand what is being said. If I cannot understand something, the only option I have is to ignore the information. I would thus prefer that arguments be made point by point with agreement obtained on each point; however, I am very aware that such is not to be the case.

Speaking of ignoring information, we appear to have a difference of opinion as to the meaning of the word "information". Your mental model of the abstract concept so tagged seems to be quite a bit more complex than mine. In addition, I do not think the meaning you assign to the term is sufficiently general to cover the usage I have seen. You seem to believe that it is necessary to attach the idea that information must have some meaning in order to qualify as information. It seems to me that this is an assumption which need not be made.

Consider my first example of "information":


How do you know that any meaning is attached to that? If it has no meaning, does that mean that it is not information? If it is not "information", what is it?

***As you suggested, you can't have information unless some more primitive issues are settled first - namely a theory of meaning and a theory of understanding.***

I don't remember making any such suggestion; perhaps you misunderstood something I said. I think, in my head, "information" is probably the most primitive concept of all. Every other concept is based on "information" of some sort or another but information itself is -- well, just information. I do not "know" what it means! At least this is the idea which arises in my head when I hear the word "information".

The rest of your note I will ignore for the moment as I think it is based on misunderstanding (this should not be taken as evidence that I choose to dismiss any of it or that I have no interest in continuing but rather interpret it to mean that I am trying to avoid confusion).

Only one last comment concerning your statement:

***But, the definition is the assignment of meaning.***

That can not be so as, if it were, dictionaries (collections of definitions) would assign meaning which you have just agreed they cannot! I hold that definitions are mechanisms used to assign meaning, a subtly different concept ("definitions themselves do not ever provide any meaning" which is exactly what you said you agreed with).

Have fun -- Dick

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