Information philosophy is an attempt to examine many classic problems in philosophy from the standpoint of information.
What is information that merits its use as the foundation of a new philosophical method of inquiry?
The simple definition of information is the act of informing - the communication of knowledge from a sender to a receiver that informs (literally shapes) the receiver.
Information theory is the mathematical quantification of communication to describe how information is transmitted and received. Information science is the study of the categorization, classification, manipulation, storage, and retrieval of information. Cognitive science is the study of mental acquisition, retention, and utilization of knowledge, which we can describe as actionable information.
Actionable information has pragmatic value.
In our information philosophy, knowledge is the sum of all the information created and preserved by humanity. It is all the information in human minds and in artifacts of every kind - from books and internetworked computers to our dwellings and managed environment.
We shall see that all information in the universe is created by two processes, the only ones capable of generating and maintaining information against the dread second law of thermodynamics, which describes the irresistible increase in disorder or entropy. We call these anti-entropic processes ergodic. They should be appreciated as the creative source of everything we can possibly value, and of everything distinguishable from chaos and therefore interesting.
One process has formed the macrocosmos of galaxies, stars, and planets. This process drives the expansion of the universe and gravity. The other process has generated the particular forms of microscopic matter - atoms, molecules, and the complex molecules that support biological organisms. It includes all quantum cooperative phenomena.
Quantum phenomena control the evolution of life and human knowledge. They help bring new information into the universe in a fundamentally unpredictable way. They drive biological speciation. They facilitate human creativity and free will.
Although information philosophy looks at the universe, life, and intelligence through the single lens of information, it is far from mechanical and reducible to deterministic physics. The growth of information over time - our principle of increasing information - is the essential reason why time matters and individuals are distinguishable. Increasing information explains all emergent phenomena, including many presumed "laws of nature."
In information philosophy, the future is unpredictable for two basic reasons. First, quantum mechanics shows that some events are not predictable. The world is causal but not determined. Second, the early universe does not contain the information of later times, just as early primates do not contain the information structures for intelligence and verbal communication, and infants do not contain the knowledge and remembered experience they will have as adults.
Two principles of information philosophy and a corollary
The Principle of Increasing Information. In our open and expanding universe, the maximum possible entropy is increasing faster than the actual entropy. The difference between maximum possible entropy and the current entropy is sometimes called negative entropy. To give this very positive quantity a positive name, we call it "Ergo." Ergodic processes have room to increase the information structures in the universe. The Arrow of Time points not only to Increasing Disorder but also to Increasing Information.
The universe is its own observer.
The Principle of "Soft" Causality. Events are always caused but not always determined. An event is caused by prior and proximate events (technically those within its relativistic light cone from the past), but not every event is predictable. Indeed, as logical philosophers would put it, determinism is not true. The determinism we have is merely "adequate determinism.
Soft causality does not entail strict determinism.
The Corollary. The universe is creative. Information structures and processes are emergent. Deterministic phenomena are emergent. Some laws of nature are emergent. Knowledge of the present did not all exist in the past. The creative process continues. Life and humanity are a part of the process. What gets created is in part our responsibility. We can choose to help create and preserve information. Or we can choose to destroy it.
We are free to create our own future.
Information philosophy and other modern philosophies
Idealism. For Plato the Forms or Ideas pre-exist any particular examples. Information philosophy explains Aristotle's alternative view, that the general Idea is abstracted from common properties shared by a set of particulars. All such particulars come into existence as the universe evolves from a chaotic origin. Information philosophy shows how the information about an idea is embodied in minds and external artifacts. The Absolute Idea of Hegel is in human thoughts (Gedanken) about particular ideas first, but then postulated in an abstract Mind as a universal, where concepts (Begriffe) correspond to the things themselves by reason of their shared information content.
Positivism. Information philosophy, like positivism, only admits knowledge that can be established scientifically, that is to say via hypotheses that can be tested empirically. But unlike positivism, information philosophy offers an epistemology and metaphysics of the "things themselves," real entities in the external world for which we can access a subset of their intrinsic information. Our information is a "representation" of the external object, adequate for communications about the object between scientists and philosophers. An accurate information representation is one whose knowledge content is isomorphic to the essential information in the object itself.
Logical positivism is the vague idea that knowledge can be based on the logical combination of verifiable sentences (atomic facts). It collapsed under the unavoidable ambiguity of language. Language philosophy needs to be reexamined as an information philosophy. We communicate most of our everyday intellectual information with words. Information content can disambiguate words. Although the hope for an ideal language seems unrealizable, information philosophy promises a better mapping of the world of ideas onto the world of things.
Pragmatism. The core idea of pragmatism is that knowledge is valuable if it can be acted on with successful consequences. Our beliefs (hypotheses) are constantly tested by the results of acting on them. Pragmatism is thus a natural scientific method used by individuals in their daily experiences. When a community of inquirers shares their information openly, the sum of their knowledge approaches the ideal of pragmatic truth. Like pragamatism, information philosophy finds value in information that is actionable.
Phenomenology. Phenomenological intentionality is informational. Individual minds reflect on things and through intuition discover a meaning to their being. Epistemological and ontological questions are raised and pondered. Information philosophy shows us we can know the things themselves or answer questions of what it means to be a thing, because we are creating that meaning. Our creations are informational structures, which are adequate and actionable, testable and empirical, to the extent that they contain an accurate subset of the much greater information content of the "thing in itself."
Existentialism says that before anything has an objective essence, it exists in the world. Information philosophy confirms this basic insight of the Existentialists. Things genuinely emerge in the universe. Humans define their own essences and bear full responsibility for creating values and purposes for their lives. Information philosophy confirms that humans are unpredictable and creative, and that they are free, but that, unlike the Existentialists, that human freedom is not absurd. There is objectifiable value in the universe.