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The Intuitive Concept of Information: An Analysis

   | 04. Nov. 2020


This paper seeks to determine the intuitive meaning of the concept of information by indicating its essential (definitional) features and relations with other concepts, such as that of knowledge. The term “information” – as with many other concepts, such as “process”, “force”, “energy” and “matter” – has a certain established meaning in natural languages, which allows it to be used, in science as well as in everyday life, without our possessing any somewhat stricter definition of it. The basic aim here is thus to explicate what it amounts to in the context of its intuitive meaning as encountered in natural languages, what the subject of cognition implicitly presumes when using the term, and to which ontological situations it can be applied. I demonstrate that the essential features of the notion of information include the presence of a material medium, its transformation, the recording and reading of information encoded in the medium, and the grasp of what is recorded, coded and transmitted as an intentional object, where the latter is construed in terms broadly in line with the ontologies of Husserl and Ingarden. Along the way, a number of issues relating to the notion of information are also pointed out: the problem of informational identity, of the existence of virtual objects, and of the choice of an adequate information carrier, as well as formal-ontological problems, including those which concern relations between information carriers and intentional objects.

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