Information and Living Systems: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives

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MIT Press, 2011 - Philosophy - 414 pages
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Information shapes biological organization in fundamental ways and at every organizational level. Because organisms use information--including DNA codes, gene expression, and chemical signaling--to construct, maintain, repair, and replicate themselves, it would seem only natural to use information-related ideas in our attempts to understand the general nature of living systems, the causality by which they operate, the difference between living and inanimate matter, and the emergence, in some biological species, of cognition, emotion, and language. And yet philosophers and scientists have been slow to do so. This volume fills that gap. Information and Living Systems offers a collection of original chapters in which scientists and philosophers discuss the informational nature of biological organization at levels ranging from the genetic to the cognitive and linguistic.

The chapters examine not only familiar information-related ideas intrinsic to the biological sciences but also broader information-theoretic perspectives used to interpret their significance. The contributors represent a range of disciplines, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, information theory, philosophy, psychology, and systems theory, thus demonstrating the deeply interdisciplinary nature of the volume's bioinformational theme.

 

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Contents

II Information and Biological Organization
53
III Information and the Biology of Cognition Value and Language
251
Contributors
407

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About the author (2011)

Robert Arp has authored numerous articles and book chapters in ontology (in the information science sense), philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, modern philosophy, and popular culture. He is the author of "Scenario Visualization: An Evolutionary Account of Creative Problem Solving" (MIT Press, 2008). He is also coauthor of "Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology" (MIT Press, in preparation) and "Reasoning Well: An Introduction to Critical Thinking" and is coeditor of "Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology" and "Philosophy of Biology: An Antholog"y.

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