What are the Basic Questions and Problems of Information Philosophy and Theory of Information?June 28, 2021
Epistemology, which comes from the Greek episteme, which is synonymous with the word “knowledge” in English, or gnoseology, which comes from the Greek word gnosis, which is synonymous with the English word “cognition”, as the name suggests, is the science of knowledge. But “What is knowledge?”
By information we want to describe both cognitive actions and cognitive outcomes. Cognitive actions are mental activities such as perception, remembering, judgment, and moreover, reasoning, thinking, inference. Scientific arguments can serve as an example of cognitive outcomes. Scientific arguments are not mental activities, so they should not be among cognitive actions. The law of attraction or the Pythagorean theorem is not a mental phenomenon of this or that kind, but corresponds to the meanings of the propositions in which these laws are formulated.
Does epistemology itself, which we say is the science of knowledge, deal with cognitive actions or cognitive consequences? If we answer this question by examining the doctrines or understandings that have actually taken place in the history of epistemology, we must reply that both cognitive actions and cognitive outcomes have formed the subject of epistemological research.
If epistemology deals with cognitive actions, that is, with certain mental phenomena, it focuses on exactly the same things as psychology in one of its branches. Psychology does indeed deal with mental phenomena and therefore with cognitive actions. However, although psychology and epistemology show a complete similarity to each other in terms of their subjects, each of these disciplines nevertheless researches the same subject from its own point of view. Psychology deals with the actual formation of cognitive processes, tries to describe and classify these processes and to find the laws governing their formation. Information theory, on the other hand, deals with something quite different.
Cognitive actions and outcomes are always subject to evaluation in certain respects. They are valued for their truth or falsehood; we also value them in terms of their justification. Thus, the actual formations of cognitive processes, which constitute the work and subject of psychology, the standards by which knowledge is valued, and therefore the theory of knowledge, which focuses on truth and falsity, justification or groundlessness, is of little concern to the theory of knowledge.
What is accuracy? This is the first of the fundamental problems of epistemology and corresponds to the question of what is the essence of truth.
The second classical problem of information theory is the problem of sources of knowledge. In this problem, we deal with the issue of what knowledge should be based on if there is to be a fully publicized knowledge of that reality, and the methods necessary to arrive at such knowledge.
The third classical problem of information theory is the problem of the limits of knowledge; This problem asks us to answer the questions of what can be the subject of knowledge and, in particular, whether a reality independent of the knowing subject can be known. For the time being we must confine ourselves to these general formulations of the three classical problems of epistemology and proceed immediately to examine the solutions brought to these problems.
1) Questions about the value of knowledge; “Is it possible to reach the right information?”, “Is our knowledge certain?”, “If our knowledge is correct, what is the criterion?” are such questions.
2) Questions about the source of the information; “What is the source of knowledge?”, “Is the source of our knowledge experience, reason or intuition?” are such questions.
Among the basic questions of information theory, “What is the criterion of true knowledge?” The question has an important place. Different answers have been given to this question. Some of these answers can be listed as follows:
“Knowledge based on reason is true knowledge.” (rationalism = rationality)
“Knowledge based on experience is true knowledge.” (empiricism = empiricism)
“Useful information is correct information.” (pragmatism = utilitarianism)
“Factual information is true information.” (positivism = positivism)
“Intuitive knowledge is true knowledge.” (intuitionism = intuitionism)
“The information that expresses the phenomenon is the correct information.” (phenomenology = phenomenology)
As can be seen, each of the propositions listed above express different approaches to the source of information.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook; “Introduction to Philosophy: Basic Concepts and Theories” Kazimiers Adjukiewicz