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Amarel(5136) pic

What is Materialism and how does it account for information?

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1 point

Not very clear on what you mean by information... I think it can definitely account for physical information, causality and stuff, if that's what you mean.

Materialism seems to me to be basically naturalism or physicalism... if there was something for which material, 'measurable' cause did not exist then that would be in conflict with materialism. I might be wrong about what materialism is.

Amarel(5136) Clarified
1 point

If you account for physical information, you may find the information itself is not physical

Mack(534) Clarified
1 point

I'm still not quite sure what you mean by information... there are different ways to define that word...

1 point

I also am unsure of what you are really asking, but I am intrigued.

Matter and energy are arranged in patterns. One short answer (which is very unsatisfying) is that patterns in the material world are information.

A slightly longer answer that I like better is that the universe is matter and energy, and this matter and energy have patterns. Information is when matter and energy interact according to patterns with other matter and energy which is arranged in patterns and moves in other patterns.

Buckminster Fuller said "we are the universe looking at itself." (Please forgive me if I got the quote wrong.)

I am what one might call an objective materialist. I think that the universe is entirely physical, that there is matter and energy, but no 'spiritual' component. For example, I do not believe in a soul, but rather that I am a physical "complex of patterns and processes" (Buckminster Fuller) that has achieved sufficient complexity to be self-aware. I also think that reality is not subjective; regardless of how we variously perceive the universe, there is an actual reality independent of our beliefs and perceptions.

Approaching the question from this perspective, Materialism (the "belief" that the universe is entirely physical) accounts for information by looking at patterns of the interaction of matter and energy, including the interactions that occur in the brain that constitute perception and understanding.

For example, seeing is what we call converting photon interaction with some of the molecules that comprise our eyes into visual information.

Photons hit my retina, thereby transferring energy to atoms in the physical structures of my rods and cones. The energy activates a dendrite in an optic nerve, causing sodium and potassium ions to move along the length of the myelin coating of the axon, in turn causing the release of molecules called neurotransmitters, that touch a receptor site in other neuron's dendrites which causes the neural process to repeat.

The multiplication of this neural process in the brain becomes complex enough that the visual processing shows an analogical pattern of the photon-retina interaction, and related mental events compound to comprise a complex of processes we generally refer to as seeing.

In general, information is the interaction within of physical patterns and processes that we could call perception with other physical patterns and processes.

I hope I did not muddle this too much. Please forgive me if I did.

Amarel(5136) Clarified
1 point

Matter and energy are arranged in patterns. One short answer (which is very unsatisfying) is that patterns in the material world are information.

The pattern is material, the information is not.

We take material action based on immaterial information. Thus, non-material information directly affects the material world. This should be problematic for Materialism.

marcusmoon(586) Clarified
1 point


The pattern is material, the information is not.

Interesting post! Thanks.

Are you proposing a Platonic duality where information is the equivalent of form, and pattern is matter? I am not sure how that works, seeing as pattern is more in line with the Platonic concept of form, but for movement or change in energy.

Do we need to extend it to matter, form, & information? Should we extend it further by adding both information and energy to Plato's pair?

This is intriguing. If we are going to follow this up, I probably need a specific definition of information (what you mean by it for the purposes of this conversation.)


1 point

Materialism holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

Amarel(5136) Clarified
1 point

How does Materialism account for the non-material nature of information?

Dermot(5707) Clarified
1 point

That's a very good question ; so to put it another way , Ideas in minds are immaterial those who believe the natural world contains only material things deny the existence of ideas and immaterial information , is that a fair assessment of what you're asking ?