Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science

Thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures


Definition of information (Merriam-Webster dict.)

  • the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence
  • (a) (1) knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) :  intelligence, news (3) :  facts, data
  • (b) the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects
  • (c) (1) :  a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2) :  something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct
  • (d) a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically :  a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed
  • the act of informing against a person
  • a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury


Etymology (

late 14c., informacion, "act of informing, communication of news," from Old French informacion, enformacion "advice, instruction," from Latin informationem (nominative informatio) "outline, concept, idea," noun of action from past participle stem of informare "to train, instruct, educate; shape, give form to" (see inform). The restored Latin spelling is from 16c. 


In the simplest everyday terms, "information" suggests a practical chunk of reified experience, a unit of sense lodged on the hierarchy of knowledge somewhere between data and report. - Erik Davis ('Techgnosis')

The information theory states that information consists of data. Raw data, as such, can be considered noise. Uncomprehensible, depending on the signal-noise radio. Think of a radio with a bad reception. The signals emitted by the data might form a pattern. This pattern is considered information.‚Äč However, information theory does not consider message importance or meaning, as these are matters of the quality of data. 

Information isn't knowledge. The classical philosophical definition, specifies that a statement must meet three criteria in order to be considered knowledge: it must be justified, true, and believed. Information can be unjustified, false and unbelievable. Information is conditial, knowledge is unconditional. Information is in a state where it is "in formation". Knowledge has been already "formed".


Tractate 31: 
We hypostatize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed.  his is a internal linklanguage which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information.  We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outward once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.

Tractate 36: 
In summary; thoughts of the brain are experienced by us as arrangements and rearrangements - change - in a physical universe; but in fact it is really information and information-processing which we substantialize. We do not merely see its thoughts as objects, but rather as the movement, or, more precisely, the placement of objects: how they become linked to one another. But we cannot read the patterns of arrangement; we cannot extract the information in it - i.e. it as information, which is what it is.  The linking and relinking of objects by the Brain is actually a language but not a language like ours (since it is addressing itself and not someone or something outside itself).

 - Philip K. Dick ('Valis')


The very spirit of imagination demands the redefinition of intelligence, if only to begin thinking like twentieth century brains, instead of eighteenth or nineteenth century ones. Intelligence thrives on information. Before the twentieth century the most widely accepted and scientific definition of "information" was the common-sense process of accumulating known data; knowledge was inert, predictable, and easily categorized. The universe, or so it was thought, could be mapped out in surgical precision like some deux machina that followed understandable laws. How many of us still think this way?

At the turn of the twentieth century, Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schroedinger, amongst others, turned the world of intelligence on its ear; the world, according to the new physics and quantum mechanics, is infinitely more mysterious and strange than ever previously imagined. One outcome of this important update was the redefinition of what constituted "information." In light of living in a universe of greater uncertainties, information was redefined as "the unpredictability of a message". This means, the more unpredictable the message, the more information there is in it. At this point, author William Burroughs' axiom from 'Naked Lunch' "Nothing is true; everything is permitted" might've made terrible sense to the cutting edge scientific community.

 - Antero Alli ('Occulture - The Secret Marriage of Art and Magick')


Information as a commodity

As automation takes hold, it becomes obvious that information is the crucial commodity, and that solid products are merely incidental to information movement. - Marshall McLuhan

The affairs of the world are now dependent upon the highest information of which man is capable. The word information means pattern, not raw data. - Marshall McLuhan


Information exchange is the only way to ever get real change. - Throbbing Gristle ('Re/Search Magazine', 1982)