Information as signs: A semiotic analysis of the information concept, determining it's ontological and epistemological commitments

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The purpose of this paper is to formulate an analytical framework for the information concept based on the semiotic theory.

The paper is motivated by the apparent controversy that still surrounds the information concept. Information, being a key concept within LIS, suffers from being anchored in various incompatible theories. The paper suggests that information is signs, and it demonstrates how the concept of information can be understood within C.S. Peirce’s phenomenologically rooted semiotic. Hence, from there, certain ontological conditions as well epistemological consequences of the information concept can be deduced.

The paper argues that an understanding of information, as either objective or subjective/discursive, leads to either objective reductionism and signal processing, that fails to explain how information becomes meaningful at all, or conversely, information is understood only relative to subjective/discursive intentions, agendas, etc. To overcome the limitations of defining information as either objective or subjective/discursive, a semiotic analysis shows that information understood as signs is consistently sensitive to both objective and subjective/discursive features of information. It is consequently argued that information as concept should be defined in relation to ontological conditions having certain epistemological consequences.

The paper presents an analytical framework, derived from semiotics, that adds to the developments of the philosophical dimensions of information within LIS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)372-382
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Semiotics, Ontology, Epistemology, Information concept, Semiotics of information

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