Skip to main content

Epistemology and the Study of Social Information Within the Perspective of a Unified Theory of Information

Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST,volume 34)

Abstract

Within the framework of the Unified Theory of Information (UTI) developed by the present author, knowledge is a part of social information. More specifically, social information is defined as any information appearing in social, or human, systems.

The study of social information has methodological implications. Its methodology is partly an application of generalisations of findings of the discipline that studies social information – which means it is an application of the theoretical considerations of the discipline to further research – and partly an application of epistemology to the constitution of scientific knowledge in the field – which means it is an application of philosophical considerations to the discipline.

On the other hand, epistemology deals with general features of social information and so needs the feedback from the discipline that studies it.

This chapter shows how epistemology and the study of social information are linked to each other within the perspective of UTI. In the first section, epistemology provides foundations for the methodology of social information studies. This involves discussions of ontological and praxiological issues, the way of transdisciplinary thinking, the relation of explanation and understanding, and semiotic notions. In the second section, these foundations are applied to social information studies. Social information is embedded in an evolution of information-generating processes of self-organising systems. It is this evolution from which meaning originates. It is argued that knowledge is located in the universe of cognitive, communicative, and co-operative information in social systems.

Keywords

  • Good Life
  • Social Information
  • Science Perspective
  • Downward Causation
  • Informational Process

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6973-1_3
  • Chapter length: 19 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-94-007-6973-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 3.1
Fig. 3.2
Fig. 3.3
Fig. 3.4
Fig. 3.5
Fig. 3.6

Notes

  1. 1.

    Reductionism reduces higher complexity to lower complexity; projectivism – often subsumed under reductionism because it is another attempt at unification – projects higher complexity onto lower complexity; disjunctivism – a more precise term than dualism – disjoins higher complexity from lower complexity and leads to difference without identity.

  2. 2.

    The term “proto – semiosic” is used here to refer to semiosis as well as signs in a seminal state. System structure, system state, and system behaviour cannot be distinguished, and, thus, there is no distinction between semiosic levels. However, pattern formation is semiosis and pattern is a sign because the pattern relates the system to the perturbation.

  3. 3.

    “Reflexion” here denotes human cognition. It comprises emotive aspects as well.

  4. 4.

    The inspiration for this term is “languaging”, which I first came across in Maturana’s (1995) writings.

References

  • Archer, M. 2007. Making our way through the world: Human reflexivity and social mobility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Archer, M. 2012. The reflexive imperative in late modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bateson, G. 1972. Steps to an ecology of mind. Toronto: Chandler.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feyerabend, P. 1975. Against method. London: NLB.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hempel, C.G., and P. Oppenheim. 1948. Studies in the logic of explanation. Philosophy of Science 15(2): 135–175.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hofkirchner, W. 2002. Projekt Eine Welt: Kognition – Kommunikation – Kooperation. Münster: Lit Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofkirchner, W. 2011a. Does computing embrace self-organisation? In Information and computation, ed. M. Burgin and G. Dodig-Crnkovic, 185–202. Hackensack: World Scientific.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofkirchner, W. 2011b. Four ways of thinking in information. triple-c 9(2): 322–331.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofkirchner, W. 2013a. Emergent information – when a difference makes a difference. triple-c 11(1): 6–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofkirchner, W. 2013b. Emergent information. A unified theory of information framework. Hackensack: World Scientific.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Jantsch, E. 1987. Erkenntnistheoretische Aspekte der Selbstorganisation natürlicher Systeme. In Der Diskurs des Radikalen Konstruktivismus, ed. S.J. Schmidt, 159–191. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maturana, H.R. 1995. The nature of time. http://www.inteco.cl/biology/nature.htm. Accessed 27 Feb 2013.

  • Maturana, H.R., and F. Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and cognition. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mayr, E. 1974. Teleological and teleonomic: A new analysis. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science XIV: 91–117. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Morin, E. 1992. The nature of nature. New York: Peter Lang.

    Google Scholar 

  • Popper, K.R. 1935. Logik der Forschung. Wien: Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Popper, K.R. 1973. Objektive Erkenntnis. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prigogine, I. 1980. From being to becoming. San Francisco: Freeman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandkühler, H.J. 1990. Onto-Epistemologie. In Europäische Enzyklopädie zu Philosophie und Wissenschaften, ed. H.J. Sandkühler, 608–615. Hamburg: Meiner.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandkühler, H.J. 1991. Die Wirklichkeit des Wissens. Geschichtliche Einführung in die Epistemologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tomasello, M. 2009. Why we cooperate. Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zimmermann, R.E. 2002. Kritik der interkulturellen Vernunft. Paderborn: Mentis.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wolfgang Hofkirchner .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Hofkirchner, W. (2014). Epistemology and the Study of Social Information Within the Perspective of a Unified Theory of Information. In: Ibekwe-SanJuan, F., Dousa, T. (eds) Theories of Information, Communication and Knowledge. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, vol 34. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6973-1_3

Download citation