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How Informational Realism Subverts Materialism

Within informational realism, what defines things is their capacity for communicating or exchanging information with other things
William Dembski

Here are some brief excerpts from design theorist William Dembski’s chapter in a forthcoming book on informational realism:

To see how informational realism dissolves the mind-body problem, we need first to be clear on what informational realism is and why it is credible. Informational realism is not simply the view that information is real. We live in an information age, so who doesn’t think that information is real? Rather, informational realism asserts that the ability to exchange information is the defining feature of reality, of what it means, at the most fundamental level, for any entity to be real.

William A. Dembski, “Informational Realism Dissolves the Mind–Body Problem,” a chapter of the forthcoming Mind and Matter: Modern Dualism, Idealism and the Empirical Sciences (forthcoming)

Informational realism does not deny the existence of things (i.e., entities or substances). But within informational realism, what defines things is their capacity for communicating or exchanging information with other things. Things are inferred from the information they communicate. Information, as the relational glue that holds reality together, thus assumes primacy in informational realism.

In informational realism, things make their reality felt by communicating or exchanging information. Thus, things that are not in immediate or mediate informational contact with other things might just as well not exist and so, in fact, don’t exist within informational realism. Informationally isolated or disconnected entities thereby become nonentities.

William A. Dembski, “Informational Realism Dissolves the Mind–Body Problem,” a chapter of the forthcoming Mind and Matter: Modern Dualism, Idealism and the Empirical Sciences (forthcoming)

and

In substituting information for perception, informational realism is able to preserve a common-sense realism that idealism has always struggled to preserve. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to perceive it, does it make a sound? For idealism to preserve our commonsense intuitions in such situations, it needs an omnisentient God (or some comparable device) that is everywhere as perceiver and so is there to record the sound when the tree falls (God hears it). Informational realism, on the other hand, does not need an omnisentient God to preserve our common-sense realism. Specifically, the tree, in its fall, communicates information to its immediate surroundings, which then ramifies through the whole of reality, reality being an informationally connected whole. So yes, within informational realism, the tree’s fall makes a sound even if no sentient being is in immediate informational contact with it

William A. Dembski, “Informational Realism Dissolves the Mind–Body Problem,” a chapter of the forthcoming Mind and Matter: Modern Dualism, Idealism and the Empirical Sciences (forthcoming)

You may also wish to read: “It from bit”: What did John Archibald Wheeler get right — and wrong? In a chapter in a forthcoming book, William Dembski explores the strengths and weaknesses of Wheeler’s perspective that the universe is, at bottom, information. Dembski wants to establish more firmly than Wheeler could that nature is indeed, at bottom, informational. He goes on to introduce and defend informational realism.


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How Informational Realism Subverts Materialism