Transdisciplinary response and responsibility of the sciences of information




Søren Brier and
Liqian Zhou, Department of International Business Communication, Copenhagen Business School


Past approaches, including modernistic and post-modernistic ones, have partly failed to deal with the global challenges, as the nature of modernistic approaches most often consist in various forms of subject area specific reductionisms attempting to reduce complexity to simpler forms and models; be it physical elements (mechanism), or computational of informational elements (pan-computationalism or pan-informationalism) bypassing subjectively and intersubjectively based meaningful experience. To the dilemma of modernism’s attempts to reduce our complex world by erasing the diversity of reality, the answer of postmodernism has been to construct “little narratives” with no demand of coherence or truth giving up on basic claims of science. Past approaches have thus in different ways created gaps between nature and culture as well as between different cultures including many conflicts between humans and environment, between different cultures as well as paradigms, world views and meaning horizons, in the attempts to globalize by integrating the local views through universal reductions.

Because the technologies of information and communication make freely flowing information disseminate globally, the problem is not primarily technological and quantitative but how to organize transdisciplinary as well as transcultural frameworks of interpretive power. For instance the CIA and FBI had all the necessary data to prevent the terrorist attack of 9/11, but their organizing capabilities were unable to establish the necessary power of interpretation of their data. The same can be said about the world society’s response to the scientific warnings of Global Warming.

An objective, probabilistically founded concept of information as “information processing paradigm” as we see it in traditional cybernetics, systems and information science is no longer enough, because information is not only something digital in physical carriers, but also a difference that makes a difference for living embodied experiential and cultural systems.

This is why technical information or discourse analysis alone cannot bridge nature and culture. We need to find ways to integrate third-person and first-person views with technology through combining systems theory and cybernetics with more phenomenological, hermeneutical as well as semiotic and linguistic interpretive frameworks. But how do we develop transdisciplinary frameworks capable of integrating physical, biological, perceptual, experiential cognitive, linguistic and cultural-social communicative systems without reducing one to the other? We therefore welcome work that attempts to build such framework(s).

Subjects and scope

Possible questions:

  • How do we integrate information science with the humanities and social sciences?
  • Can the info-computational paradigm address the problem of meaning in cognition and communication?
  • Can information science and semiotic be integrated?
  • What is the alternative to a physicalistic view of information?
  • Is system science and cybernetics broad enough to function as a transdisciplinary framework including experience and meaning?
  • Do we have a common metaphysical background in East and West?
  • How do we integrate ethical perspectives in transdisciplinary frameworks?
  • Can transdisciplinarity go beyond Wissenschaft[1] and encompass philosophy, art and religion and thereby integrate ethical and aesthetical perspective on civilization and rationality?
  • What are the practical problems of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation?
  • How do we find an optimal solution for the interaction between the knowledge of Wissenschaft and political ideology?

[1] The German concept of Wissenschaft includes social science and the humanities, which is not usually the case with the English concept of science.


In the references below we give some recent examples of such work.

Brenner, J.E., 2008, Logic in Reality, Dordrecht: Springer.

Brenner, J. E. 2008. The Logic of Transdisciplinarity. Page 155 – 163 In Nicolescu, B. (ed.) Transdisciplinarity. Theory and Practice,

Brenner, J. E. 2009. Prolegomenon to a Logic for the Information Society. triple-c 7(1), 38- 73.

Brier, S. 2008. Cybersemiotics: Why Information Is Not Enough. Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. PP. 544. Published as paperback and Kindle in 2013. Full Google book.

Brier, S. 2013. Cybersemiotics: a new foundation for transdisciplinary theory of consciousness, cognition, meaning and communication, in Liz Swan (Ed.)(2012). Origins of Mind, Springer book series in Biosemiotics, Berlin, New York: Springer.

Brier, S. 2013. Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture, Integral Review: A transdisciplinary and transcultural journal, Volume 9, No. 2, 220-263

Brier, S. 2013. Transdisciplinary view of Information theory seen from a Cybersemiotics point of view, in Ibekwe-San Juan, F. and Dousa. T. Fundamental notions of information, communication and knowledge: Its effects on scientific research and inter-disciplinarity, New York: Springer.

Cowley S.J., Major J.C., Steffensen S.V., & Dinis A. (2010). Signifying Bodies: Biosemiosis, Interaction and Health. Braga, Portugal: Faculty of Philosophy of Braga, Portuguese Catholic University.

Deacon T. (2012). Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Hofkirchner , W. 2010. Twenty questions About a Unified Theory of Information. A Short Exploration into Information from a Complex Systems View. Litchfield Park: Emergent Publications,

Hofkirchner, W.2013. Emergent Information. A Unified Theory of Information Framework.  World Scientific Book Series in Information Studies, vol. 3. World Scientific, New Jersey etc., 292

Latour, B. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. New York: Harvard University Press.

Latour, B. 2007. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor Network Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mingers, J. 2013. Prefiguring Floridi’s Theory of Semantic Information. TripleC – Cognition, Communication, Co-operation, 11 (2). ISSN 1726-670X.

Mingers, J. 1995. Self-Producing Systems: Implications and Applications of Autopoiesis. Springer, Dordrecht, 268 pp. ISBN 9780306447976.

Nicolescu, B. 2008. Transdisciplinarity – Theory and Practice (Ed.), Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ, USA.

Nicolescu, B. (2014). From Modernity to Cosmodernity, New York: State University of New York Press

Nicolescu, B. 2002. Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, State University of New York (SUNY) Press, New York, translated from the French by Karen-Claire Voss.

Wu Kun, 2005. Philosophy of Information: Theory, System, Method. Beijing: The Commercial Press. (In Chinese)

Wu Kun, 2011. “New Philosophical Revolution” Meaning that Segmentation of Existence Areas and Philosophy of Information. The Journal of Humanities. (5): 1-7. (In Chinese)

Wu Kun, 2014, From the Perspective of Information World, Journal of Renmin University of China, 3: 72-78. (In Chinese)

Wu Kun, Brenner J. E. Wang Zhe, 2012. The Studies of Philosophy of Information in China. Beijing: China Social Science Press. (In Chinese)

Wu Kun, Huo Youguang, 2012. The contend of the problems of the philosophy of information. Beijing: China Social Science Press. (In Chinese)

Wu Kun. 2013. Fundamental Questions of Philosophy with Fundamental Shift of Philosophy, Hebei Academic Journal. 31 (4): 11-21. (In Chinese).

Zhou, L. & Brier, S. (2014a). Philosophy of Information in Chinese Style: Review of Wu Kun’s Philosophy of information: Theory, System, Method, in Cybernetics and Human Knowing. Vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 83-97.

Zhou, L. and Brier, S. (2014b). Philosophy of Information in Chinese Style? An Evaluation on Wu Kun’s Philosophy of Information Chinese title: 中国特色的信息哲学?评邬焜的信息哲学, Pp 81-89 in the proceedings of the international conference Philosophical Spirit of Information Age, at Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China, November 2014.

See also the interdisciplinary journal Cybernetics & Human Knowing

Important Dates

Submission deadline: 27 February 2015
Notification of acceptance: 20 March 2015