Informational vs. Semiotic Views

I’ve been working on a paper that is based on part of my dissertation. It challenges the idea of semantic in semantic technologies. It turns out that Søren Brier had a similar idea. I almost wish I’d read his book before writing the dissertation. It’s good to be validated.

The informational paradigm is based on an objective, quantitative information concept and works with algorithmic models of perception, cognition and communication. Semiotics, in contrast, is based in human language’s meaningful communication and is phenomenological as well as dependent on the theory of meaning.

One way to approach the problem is to view the pan-informational paradigm as a ‘bottom-up’ explanation and the pan-semiotic paradigm as a ‘top-down’ explanation. One could further combine this with an epistemological perspective, which suggests that no final reductive scientific explanations can be given to anything in this world, including the behaviors of organisms. All we have are complementary explanations that work well in different situations. We can never attain a full view. Accordingly, it may be impossible to unite the two paradigms by manipulating basic definitions into unifying compromises….

One of the consequences of this is that concepts of meaning and the objective statistical information concept are defined within two distinct paradigms. This makes the informational aspect of communication as an objective and quantifiable entity completely independent of any meaningful interpretation by the recipient and any intent on the part of the sender. In linguistics this opposition is seen from the perspective of analytical philosophy, which perceives semantics as a question of the representational truth function of a token, whereas pragmatic linguistics posits that meaning arises from the use of signs and words in real-life situations.

Brier, S. (2008) Cybersemiotics: Why Information is Not Enough, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 42-43.