The Meaning of Information

AutorNauta, Doede, noorem
PealkiriThe meaning of information / by Doede Nauta, Jr.
IlmunudThe Hague ; Paris : Mouton, 1972
ViideNauta, Doede, Jr. 1972. The meaning of information. The Hague; Paris: Mouton.

what is known already is no information. So, something is INFORMATION to the extent that it is unknown, unexpected, surprising, or: IMPROBABLE. (Nauta 1972: 19)
This is very much how Ju. Lotman conceptualizes information, except he has (in his later work) replaced the all-too-computer-science'y term improbable with the more cultural-theorecial-sounding random. In Nauata's exposé, improbability is as if between randomness and determinism, but these are just details, unneccessary for the cultural theorist.
INFORMATION has a central place in the concrete structures and proceses of the humanities as such: the conveyance of intelligence in the press and on television, as well as in education; the tradition of patterns in culture; the development of social organization; the mechanisms of thinking and dreaming, of memory and emotions, of art, and of ethical awareness; and the human reality of being a person with ultimate concern and belief.
These concrete aspects have been left aside in this monograph: there is no sense in clarifying them as long as the underlying, more general and abstract, aspects have not yet been explained. We will therefore put into focus these latter, more basic, aspects. Accordingly, the problems that are relevant to the present sutudy are of the type: what is INFORMATION; can there be information without LANGUAGE; do animals (and machines) have a language; what does genetic information (DNA) have in common with newspaper information; how is NORMATIVE INFORMATION (the de jure aspect of logical thought, of grammaticalness of good and evil, right and wrong, etc.) possible in a world of 'de facto patterns' and what is its relation to goal-directedness, what makes the difference between man and animal and between man and machine, and what have the three informationally in common? (Nauta 1972: 20)
I am especially interested in information without language. The socio-cultural sphere (patterns, organization) is generally what I'm after.
But in our opinion the tide will soon turn. Once the problems underlying the information theme have been clearly posed and solved, the solution will turn out to be fruitful for the development of the humanities: the dilemma between 'qualitative babbling' and doing a chaotic host of quantitative work on splinter-aspects ('puzzle-pieces') which stay meaningless without an integrating theoretical setting 'the IMAGE of the puzzle'), which psychology and the social sciences are still facing, will then be resolved. For, in our opinion, this dilemma is due to the fact that the adequate conceptual apparatus relating to the (cognitive, aesthetic, and other) processes underlying information has been lacking until now. In other words, the category INFORMATION, together with its whole complex of related notions, will enable the humanities to find their proper theoretical frame of scientific relations, thus uniting the humanities with science. (Nauta 1972: 21)
Oddly enough 'qualitative babble' described very well what I have thus far called "postmodern art and literary theory". It is babble, in so far as it does not explain it's core concepts but assumes the reader to be already familiar with complex notions such as "simulacrum", "chronotope", "deconstruction" etc. One person even dared to remark that perhaps these authors aren't themselves very aware what these words denote and feel that throwing them into the conversation or sowing in texts will make their babble seem like something more than it is, which is babble. This is why I enjoy older and even outdates authors more, they bother to explain themselves. Babblemouths can't be asked what they mean because they may themselves be unaware.
We will show that semiotics has a central place in the analysis and classification of information phenomena. To put it in other terms: SEMIOTICS is a kind of 'physiology of information processes'. The theoretical apparatus of semiotics will be shown to furnish the most important framework for the classification of information (and its complex of cognate notions) in all its diversity, and for the understanding of relevant phenomena. The skeletons: SIGNAL - SIGN - SYMBOL and SYNTACTIC(S) - SEMANTIC(S) - PRAGMATIC(S), taken from semiotics, will run like a continuous thread through this study.
But in order to equip semiotics adequately for its appointed task, we have had to modernize it by relating it with such congenial new disciplines as system theory and cybernetics. (Nauta 1972: 23)
This is why this book is on the semiotics shelf in our main library but not somewhere else (most likely the repository): semiotics is it's main instrument. Not the only one, of course, as even here it is hinted towards systems theory and cybernetics, yet as we know (from the work of Uexküll, for example): systems theory, cybernetics and semiotics are very much related.
There are many technical handbooks on information theory and system theory which the adepts will discover for themselves. Introductory literature of quality is not so abundant, however. Therefore we list here some authors:
Bertalanffy (1956, 1967, 1968), Rowe (1965), Rosenblueth et al. (1943), Mackay (1952 a, 1956 a, 1966), Frank (1965), Quastler (1953 b), Ashby (1965).
Morris (1938, 1955), Ogden and Richards (1945), Whitehead (1958), Tolman (1932, 1958).
Cherry (1966), Miller (1951, 1967), Quastler 81958), Mackay (1950, 1952 c, 1961 b, 1965 b), Shannon and Weaver (1964), Vermeersch (1967). (Nauta 1972: 24)
A worthwhile list to check out.
Usually the interpretant is a disposition, called up in the interpreter, to react in a certain way to a certain kind of object. This kind of object - so far as it is given by its conditions and properties - is called the SIGNIFICATION of the sign which evoked this effect (disposition) in the interpreter. The DENOTATUM of a sign, i.e. every object meeting the conditions, has to be different from the stimulus, which functions at the moment as a sign; if not, there is no real semioiss. Signification (or designatum), denotatum (called 'referent' as well) and interpretant ('inner-effect') of a sign usually depend on the CONTEXT in which the sign appears. (Nauta 1972: 28)
In effect Nauta excludes intrinsic semes from "real semiosis".
SUMMARY: semiosis is a sign process, which is described in semiotics as a five-term relation S(s, i, e, d, c). S stand here for the semiotic relation; s for 'sign'; i for 'interpreter'; e for 'effect' (which is the interporetant, i.e. the disposition in i to react in a certain way to d under certain conditions c because of s); d for 'denotatum' and c for 'context'. It is essential tha d are different kinds of objects. If the 'meaning' of s (i.e. 'e together with d') does not depend on any special conditions, semiosis can be described as a four-term relation: S(s, i, e, d). If one treats i as a black box (an open system, whose inner structure is not specified) and s as its input, one has to be careful not to treat e as the output of i. As a matter of fact eis a change in the INNER STATE of the black box, invoking an alteration of the pattern of future outputs of i. This alteration is correlated with the presence (or absence) of d. Systems and inner states will be discussed in the next chapter. (Nauta 1972: 28)
I have been yearning to know this formula for two years now. Finally I have it!
There is no information without information vehicles. Informationa vehicles are the carriers of information, the physical material in which the information-for-the-interpreted is encoded. Every information cehivle is a DISCRIMINABLE FORM for the interpreter of the information. The concept of discriminable form has been introduced by Vermeersch (1967). In the next chapter we will give a further explanation of this concept. Any physical state or event may be a discriminable form or an information cehivle for an interpreter: it depends on whether the state or event is DISCRIMINABLE for the interpreter, and is actually discriminated by him. Apparently, information and information vehicles cannot be abstracted from their interpreter. We will distinguish three different classes of information cehivles: SIGNALS, SIGNS, and SYMBOLS. In the next chapter these classes will be defined extensively. For the moment we restrict ourselves to an intuitive characterization of these concepts. There is no information which is not carried by one of these three kinds of information vehicles. (Nauta 1972: 28-29)
That, books in libraries are not "information", but information vehicles (or sign-carriers).
The information vehicles of a language have an INCITIVE function, when they promote action or incite a specific behavior. The sender of these 'incitors' wishes to influence the action of the receivers in a certain way. We find examples of this in the areas of rhetoric (political speeches!), of advertising and of demonstrations. QUestions and commands are typicalforms of the incitive use of language. We also come across this incitive function in THREATENING, WARNING, PRAYIONG, PROVOCATING and PROMISING. Harris and Jarrett (l.c.) give the following examples of incitive use of language: 'do your duty' and 'vote for X'. In most communications from the areas of morals and values, language is not only used valuatively but also incitively. (Nauta 1972: 51)
Hooks up nicely with Foucault's "conduct of conduct".
The main function of language in general is the SOCIAL CONTROL OF BEHAVIOR; (within the group of interpreters of the language concerned). The incitive, valuative and prescriptive language forms are the types of communication theat carry out this social control function DIRECTLY: they focus on a certain kind of action and make this into GOAL-DIRECTED behavior (the valuative function indicates the goal and the prescriptive function procides a directative organization of the incited act. These three components of direct social control can indeed be distinguished, but cannot be separated most of the time: as has been observed already, the three components often appear simultaneously in certain communications. The descriptive and emotional functions can be considered as language forms which realize the social control of behavior IN AN INDIRECT WAY.
(3a) The information vehicles of language have an EXPRESSIVE function when they serve to expression of the feelings, experiences, moods, needs, etc. of the sender. 'Expressors' can also serve as an emotional outlet. Typical examples of expressors are tears, laughter, humming, the call-note and rutting-cry of animals, exclamations (such as 'ouch!', 'oh!'), and gifts. These expressors are often culturally defined. We come across the expressive use of language in the areas of animal communication, of mimic and pantomime, of spontaneous expression in children, and of art and literature.
(3b) The information vehicles of language hahve an EVOCATIVE function when they induce certain states of mind in the recipient; in other words, we speak of 'evocators', when they evoke (or are meant to evoke) certain pictures, associations, feelings or moods in the recipient. We are NOT concerned here with the behavior, that can (or must) result from the evoked state of mind. If the sender is concerned with such an influencing of conduct, then we are concerned with a MIXED form, which represents at the same time an evocative and an incitive function (in exactly the same way appear expressive-incitive mixed forms, etc.). We come across clear examples of the evocative function of language in rite and religion, and in art and literature. Terms of abuse, teasing, caressing and descriptions (AS LONG AS THEY ARE SUGGESTIVE) are language forms with a typical evocative functions.
(3c) The information vehicles of a language have a RAPPORTIVE function when they are exchanged for the sake of social contact and sociability. We come across this rapportive function of language in animals living in groups, especially in the everyday social behavior of human beings. For instance, this language form is used when we meet someone for the first time (we want to introduce ourselves). Typical examples of rapportive use of language are: 'hello', 'yours truly', 'nice wheather today!', etc. Gossiping between neighbors and telling of jokes, are also typical expressions of rapportive use of language. (Nauta 1972: 52-53)
Simply brilliant.
The cultural relativity of language forms that have an EMOTIONAL function has come up for discussion before. Also language forms with CONTROL function are most of the time strongly culturally tied; the world-image of the culture concerned codefines the ways along which direct social control can be exercised. [...] What we commonly call 'magic' can therefore be considered as the incitive (sometimes also prescriptive) function of certain language forms in 'primitive societies'. The DESCRIPTIVE function of language is actually the least culturally defined. In principle, the descriptive language forms are tied only to conventions, which are intersubjective and adaptable, and to the development of SCIENCE (which nowaday is no longer culturally defined). (Nauta 1972: 53-54)
To use this vocabulary, I could define my own study as an investigation of nonverbal forms of social control in fictional totalitarian societies. Nonverbal here is mostly tied with incitive and emotional functions: "regulators" on the one hand and "expressions" on the other. Descriptive function is the easiest to study even in hand gestures (e.g. iconicity).
Sigmatic meaning is usually called extension or denotation. Underlying all semantic meaning in symbolism is MEANING AS TRANSLATION OF NON-VERBAL EXPERIENCE INTO VERBAL UTTERANCE, which is called referential meaning by Rapoport (1962), p. 100). (Nauta 1972: 60)
Whoa, out of the blue, all referentiality defined as intersemiotic translation.
A system is any set of entities (objects, classes, or conventions) with a specifiable STRUCTURE. The structure makes the system a 'whole, a 'Gestalt', a unity. The mysticism of 'wholism' and 'Gestaltism' are avoided in the modern system concept because of the requirement of a SPECIFIABLE structure. The STRUCTURE of a system is defined a sthe sum total of the relations holding between the elements and complexes of the system. According as the entities of the system are concrete objects, or class concepts, or de jure conventions, the system is called CONCRETE, or CONCEPTUAL, or FORMAL, respectively; its structure then is defined by concrete (physical, chemical, etc.) conceptual (mathematical, classificatory, etc.), and formal (de jure logical) relatons, respectively. In Bertels and Nauta (1968, chapter 6) this is elucidated in more detail. Here we give only one example of each kind of system:
  • a molecule (e.g. a DNA specimen) is an example of a CONCRETE SYSTEM;
  • the periodical system of elements (Mendeljeff) is an example of a CONCEPTUAL SYSTEM;
  • a language system with de jure rules (e.g. the systems of symbolic logic) is an example of a FORMAL SYSTEM.
(Nauta 1972: 65-67)
A definition of system and it's structure, so often neglected by people who use the notion liberally.
Systems are usually given to us only by way of MODELS, which are systems more or less isomorphic to the relevant structure of the original system. (Nauta 1972: 67)
A puzzle-piece possible useful for deciphering modelling systems theory.
MATHEMATICAL system theory develops mathematical models fot the QUANTITATIVE description of actual open systems and of certain types of them. FOr mathematical system theory the following distinctions are essential: continuous and discrete systems (the latter are sometimes called AUTOMATA), liner and nonlinear systems, STATE-DETERMINED and non-state-determined systems, ANTICIPATING and nonanticipating systems. (Nauta 1972: 69)
Yet another piece for figuring out the Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics.
ILLUSTRATION: Let the i-system [information-system] be the human body. THe input and output channels can be interpreted then as the afferent and efferent parts of the peripheral nervous system, the inner state as the state of the central nervous system (including the physico-chemical aspects, such as the purposeful state), and the receptors as the different sense organs, e.g. R1 being the eye (the two organs together), R2 the ear, R3 the skin as a wartmth-sensible organ, R4 the skin as a pressure-sensible organ, etc.
The n different variable quantities, being the constitutents of the discriminable input streams of i, ill be called the ensemble of 'Merkwerlt constituents' of i; similarly, i has an ensemble of m 'Wirkwelt constituents'. (The terms Merkwelt and Wirkwelt are taken from von Uexküll (Uexküll and Kriszat, 1934) and will be futher developed in 3.3 in view of a specification of different types of environment.) (Nauta 1972: 79-81)
Yet again it happens to be Uexküll who is most pertinent in combining embodiment and systems theory.
The alphabet of discriminable forms of an i-system consists of PATTERNS which are built from the Merkwelt constituents of i. For the moment we define such a pattern or discriminable form as the class of those input complexes of i that CONSISTENTLY evoke the same reaction in i. 'Consistently' mean shere, that there may be a variety of possible rections depending on some relevant internal and external conditions (cf. Morris' CONTEXT of a sign), but that each occurrence of a member of the class UNDER GIVEN RELEVANT CONDITIONS evokes the same reaction in i. The above cybernetic definition may be considered as a preliminary specification of the classic semiotic definition of discriminable form as:
the type of events in the interpreter's environment that in a given context function as a specific signal, sign, or symbol for i (cf. 2.1.3 and 2.3.8).
The following are three preliminary principles which underlie the classification of discriminable forms in ANY i-system:
  • THE PRINCIPLE OF DIFFERENTIATION: for each discriminable form there must be at least one condition, under which the reaction of the i-system differs from its reaction to any other given discriminable form.
  • THE PRINCIPLE OF IDENTIFICATION: all input forms of i that, under all relevant conditions, have the same effect (viz. under each condition a specific change of output or of inner state) must be identified as one and the same discriminable form for i.
  • THE PRINCIPLE OF SUBLIMINALITY: all input forms that stay without reaction under EVERY condition (even if they are relevant to the actual state of readiness of i) must be identified with the ZERO-DISCRIMINABLE FORM, which is an element of every complex alphabet of discriminable forms. Zero-discriminability is usually due to the subliminal energy of the input form in question. It should not be confused with nondiscriminability, which relates to quantities which do not belong to the Merkwelt constituents of the i-system in question.
(Nauta 1972: 81-82)
Oddly enough, this is basically the distinction between "description" and "idenfitication" in Ju. Lotman's "Myth - Name - Culture". And zero-discriminable form is basically the notorious "zero-sign" which until now I thought to be an original invention of the TMS.
In the literature we have found four broad types of uses of 'noise' (summarized in Diagram 8), viz. as:
  1. a disturbing ACTIVITY and its EFFECT: communication noise
  2. a diversive DISCRIMINATED FORM: irrelevant information
  3. a chaotic PHENOMENON: meaningless noise
  4. a disastrous OVERALL INFLUENCE: rough input
Of these, (d) could be called OBJECTIVE noise and (b) SUBJECTIVE noise, whereas (c) is objective but may encompass subjective aspects as well. Epistemologically, (a) is the most important form of noise: it encompasses PHYSICAL and PSYCHOPHYSICAL causes and effects, ranging from 'no entiendo' (e.g. caused by a deformation of sound waves) to 'no comprendo' (e.g. caused by a divergent use of words). Each of the four types may have CHANCE causes as well as INTENTIONAL ones. One has often to do with combination of two or more of the four types. (Nauta 1972: 86)
A very valuable typology of noise.
[noise] in the PSYCHOSOMATICAL area:
internal transmission noise (input- and output-channel noise); internal coding noise (slip of the tongue, memory-distortions); meta-transmission noise (e.g. the spread of meaning in the different dialects of a language)
(Nauta 1972: 89)
Nauta understands the difference between "yes" meaning a nod or a shake to be an example of metatransmission noise. I could call it differences in coding, but metatransmission does have an odd academic aesthetic to it.
Thus, learning is essentially INTERIORIZATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTRAINTS. As soon as an i-system has grown to informational maturity, it ANTICIPATES coming events on the basis of received information. The anticipated events constitute redundant information in relation to the information received. Because of this very redundancy, the received information is meaningful and refers to the anticipated events.
The discriminable forms arriving at the input carry potential information to the i-system. In case this i-system did not 'know' anything of its environment, all these inputs would be equally important to the i-system and, all these important 'pieces of news' would be completely disconnected. But unless the environmental inputs constitute only 'meaningless noise', there must be some coherence, some interrelation or regularity, that is, the environment must be objectively constrained in the transcendent sense. Now, when an i-system has lesome of these 'objective constraints' it has discovered 'order and method' in the disconnected nonsense of indifferently important pieces of news, which means that not all information received by it has the same novelty or unexpectedness any more: useful information has a degree of REDUNDANCY, varying from 0 (meaningless noise) to 1 (meaning without news). In other words: the learning of constraints results in a reduction of the amount of information processed by the i-system. This is called the INFORMATIONAL ACCOMMODATION of the i-system to the redundancy of the environment. (Nauta 1972: 116-117)
This reminds me of Bourdieu's contention that one must accumulate information so that from then on one can ignore information. Also, concerning redundancy: the human brain structure supposedly solidifies so that whatever seems brilliant to me now will start to seem obvious in the years to come as my "new" thoughts will be structured around them.
Pragmatic redundancy is exemplified by cultural forms such as etiquette (titles), style, rites, etc. Nonconformity to pragmatic redundancy in at the root of the clash of the generations. The latter is describable in terms of PRAGMATIC NOISE: words like 'estblishment', 'democracy', and 'God' are not interpreted by the conformist in conformity with the intention of the hippie, and vice versa. In fact, the pragmatic rules of language and culture are not given once for all - they are reshaped by every new generation. (Nauta 1972: 122)
Terms like metanoise and metaredundancy give little of value but pragmatic noise is a clever one.
Information in its proper sense, i.e. when it functions in a goal-directed context, may be communicated via signals, signs, and symbolc, and this ONLY BY VIRTUE OF A CODE. A code is a mechanism that in some way or other fits the relevant vehicles (and other combinations) to their informational function relative to the i-systel in question: it performs so to speak a 'mapping of redundancy onto meaning', a conversion of related uncertainty into signification. This is a very broad characterization of 'code'. As such it underlies the different specifications of the code concept, defined in divergent contexts (see Gloss). By its very generality, our notion of a 'code' is basic to proper understanding of INFORMATION.
The specific informational mechanism (code), which is inherent in every proper i-systel as a DIRECT function, will be called its PRIMARY CODE. The concept of primary code is even more general than the generalized 'language'-concept introduced in 2.3.4: 'languages' presuppose primary codes which are intersubjective within a special group of i-systems. However, we will see that the class of 'languages' has practically the same extension as the class of primary codes. Therefore the terms 'primary code' and 'language' may be used as synonyms. Part of the i-system's internal organization is at the root of its primary code or 'language'. This is the PRIMARY CODE STRUCTURE, pcs, of the i-systel - a concept which will be further developed in the course of this paragraph. It is a kind of internal frame of reference. It has a hierarchic structure, which is the internal operational reflection of the hierarchy met in the related uncertainties of the environment as far as they are relevant to the i-system. (Nauta 1972: 132-133)
Somehow I see this as a way to explain primary modelling systems of the TMS.
Man, on the basis of his primary code, 'natural language', has designed a variety of DERIVED CODES such as secret (crypto-analytical) codes, transmission codes (the 'talking drums', Morse, etc.), and artificial language systems. (Nauta 1972: 133)
Even more, art and culture are in this sense "artificial language systems".
In addition to behavior patterns of signal processors, sign processors exhibit the faculty of BEHAVIOR ADJUSTMENT; the inner model is updated continuously, coming inputs are ANTICIPATED and the adequate response is prepared and tested in advance on the basis of prevalent state of readiness and the inner model. (Nauta 1972: 153)
In this sense it makes sense that there is a goffmanian expressive order: the maintenance of "face" is anticipated.
IMAGE, PLAN, and P (the purposeful state) realize a pragmatic autonomy on the basis of a 'grammar p c s', which is a de jure ORGANIZATION OF IDEAS. Accordingly, the implicit anticipation inherent in sign semiosis becomes a discursive one, which is explicitly imagined and planned. On this pragmatic level of the organization of behavior, the i-system is no longer subject to internal models; it may create, manipulate, test, and supervise its own models. Thus it may design its own codes. These models and codes are tentative symbolic projections; they are rational mappings of parts of the de facto world onto the de jure of symbolic relations. The IMPLICIT isomorphism between map and environment has become an explicit one (where the map has become an autonomous IMAGE-PLAN combination) whose discursive empirical relations are syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic in the true METAsemiotic sense of the word. Apparently, the addition on this semiotic level of an implicit pragmatic dimension (due to a de jure organization of ideas), is enough to attain the metasemiotic level of explicit syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic relations. This jump from implicit semiotic relations to explicit metasemiotic ones is the essential basis of personality, self-consciousness, 'free will' and cyberculture. (Nauta 1972: 153)
Essentially, man is a modelling mechanism/creature.
The above example is instructive of still another distinction: that between OBSERVED and COMMUNICATED message. Transmissional information theory usually treats human communication and messages derived from natural language, i.e. communicated (socially preformed) messages. There is, however, no reason to exclude observed (unaddressed) messages, the more so as there are reasons to assume that COMMUNICATED messages are a social adaption of the more basic OBSERVED messages (see section 3.3.7). As we see from the example, specific signals from the environment may function as a relevant (observed) message, the meaning of which is decoded internally without the intermediary of social precoding. The distinction between observed and communicated messages may be illustrated by the difference between a bird that observes something in its projected environment which it interprets as 'danger' and a bird that hears a warning cry from a fellow bird. (Nauta 1972: 178)
This is basically the distinction between communicative and informational semiosis (Thure von Uexküll). In a lesser sense observed messages are akin to self-communication, insofar as there are signals in the environment that directly concern the self. But I'm not sure if this is the correct line to take as it would probably reduce all semiosis to self-communication.
A finite scheme consists of N elements. Being an EXHAUSTIVE recital of MUTUALLY EXCLUISVE eventualities (if necessary, the zero-eventuality, the event that nothing happens, e.g. abstention, should be added). (Nauta 1972: 180)
This is more akin to the so-called "zero-sign". Define:astention - 1) "An instance of declining to vote for or against a proposal or motion." 2) "The fact or practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something; abstinence."
We agree with Veermeersch's (1967, p. 208 f) quantum-theoretical vie; 'analogue information' and 'continuous signals' (as opposed to digital information and discrete signals) should be conceived as just a way of expressing that the nuances in question have a fine structure that surpasses man's discriminatory capacity. That is to say: the opposition in question is an EPISTEMOLOGICAL one, not an ONTOLOGICAL one. (Nauta 1972: 180, footnote 12)
This is a possible candidate for the source of the discrete vs continuous sign notions in the TMS. Even more so since the source is from an author who, just like Ju. Lotman, had a philological background. The citation goes: Vermeersch, Étienne 1967. Epistemologische Inleiding tot een Wetenschap van de Mens (Brugge).
Man, by way of his unique capacity for grammatical organization, has developed powerful media of representation such as speech, writing, mathematics, computers, measuring-apparata, etc., which he can operate at will, WITHIN CERTAIN LIMITS. Thanks to the discursive de jure character of his power of grammatical organization, man arrives not only at an adequate representation of INFORMATION but also at the CONCEPT OF INFORMATION, thus attaining the metalevel of REPRESENTATION OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION.
Man is the only creature capable of such DISCURSIVE representation. The informational representations inherent in the behavior of animals and machines are either IMPLICIT, as in instictive or automatic behavior patterns, or CONCURSIVE, as when behavior is mediated by representation and effectuation through an ADAPTABLE COGNITIVE MAP.
What has been said about information and REPRESENTATION applies as well to information and MEANING; the three are inseparable from each other in semiotics. In this conext the following proposal for a general (semiotic) definition of information is due. In our opinion the widely circulated, loose definition of information as 'that which is common to all codes' should be qualified as follows:
(Nauta 1972: 201)
I am now interested in what Nauta means by "concursive". He seems to be alone in using this term.
To be sure this is a worthwhile book to read for any semiotician. I'll be sure to read it again in the future so as to have another try at all those mathematical formulas and appendixes which eluded me upon first reading.


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