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Information 2012, 3(4), 635-643; doi:10.3390/info3040635
When Information Conveys Meaning
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Received: 22 June 2012; in revised form: 19 October 2012 / Accepted: 26 October 2012 / Published: 2 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
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Abstract: While some information is clearly meaningful and some clearly is not, no one has been able to identify exactly what the difference is. The major obstacle has been the way information and meaning are conceptualized: the one in the physical realm of tangible, objective entities and the other in the mental world of intangible, subjective ones. This paper introduces an approach that incorporates both of them within a unified framework by defining them in terms of what they do, rather than what they are. Meaningful information is thus conceptualized here as patterns of matter and energy that have a tangible effect on the entities that detect them, either by changing their function, structure or behavior, while patterns of matter and energy that have no such effects are considered meaningless. The way that meaningful information can act as a causal agent in bio-behavioral systems enables us to move beyond dualistic concepts of ourselves as comprised of a material body that obeys the laws of physics and a non-material essence that is too elusive to study .
Keywords: meaning; information; cause and effect; observer role; goal-directed behavior; subjectivity; emergence; evolution
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MDPI and ACS Style
Reading, A. When Information Conveys Meaning. Information 2012, 3, 635-643.AMA Style
Reading A. When Information Conveys Meaning. Information. 2012; 3(4):635-643.Chicago/Turabian Style
Reading, Anthony. 2012. "When Information Conveys Meaning." Information 3, no. 4: 635-643.