Information Cultures in the Digital Age

Editors: Kelly, Matthew, Bielby, Jared (Eds.), Springer Verlag

This publication in honour of our colleague and master Rafael Capurro is for BITrum a remarkable opportunity to celebrate his patient work, dedication, inspiration and always ready friendship. The publication in itself represents a major contribution to the confrontation of problems in which BITrum is engaged since its origins.

Mundo digitalFor several decades Rafael Capurro has been at the forefront of defining the relationship between information and modernity through both phenomenological and ethical formulations -as we can see for instance in our glossariumBITrum-. In exploring both of these themes Capurro has re-vivified the transcultural and intercultural expressions of how we bring an understanding of information to bear on scientific knowledge production and intermediation. Capurro has long stressed the need to look deeply into how we contextualize the information problems that scientific society creates for us and to re-incorporate a pragmatic dimension into our response that provides a balance to the cognitive turn in information science.

With contributions from 35 scholars from 15 countries, Information Cultures in the Digital Age focuses on the culture and philosophy of information, information ethics, the relationship of information to message, the historic and semiotic understanding of information, the relationship of information to power and the future of information education. This Festschrift seeks to celebrate Rafael Capurro’s important contribution to a global dialogue on how information conceptualisation, use and technology impact human culture and the ethical questions that arise from this dynamic relationship.

The Editors

Matthew Kelly is a scholar at Curtin University’s Department of Information Studies and at the International Institute for Hermeneutics.

Jared Bielby currently serves as Co-Chair for the International Center for Information Ethics and Editor for the International Review of Information Ethics.

How to Purchase the Book

The E-Book will be available in July 2016 with print to follow shortly after.

Go to Springer’s site to purchase

Our colleague Rafael Capurro is interviewed by the Brazilian musician and intellectual Rob Ashtoffen. In the interview, held in Spanish, Prof. Capurro reflects on the ontological aspects of the Latin term “informatio” which connects with the classical metaphysical tradition, as well as on the epistemological aspects developed in the Latin usage of the term. In our days the ontological accent is particularly put on the digital with some kind of reductionism or violence: “what is not digitizable is not”

J.M.Diaz & RainerZimmermann

Interviewer: José María Díaz Nafría

Interviewee: Rainer Zimmermann

Date: 09/11/2011

On the occasion of Rainer Zimmemann’s 60th birthday on November 9th, I met him in Vienna while attending a whorkshop on system science chaired by Wolfgang Hofkirchner. Nearby the Burg Theatre, we met in the pleasant atmosphere of the Viennese café Landtmann, where he first sketched out to me his forthcoming book on Schelling which I am now looking forward to hold in my hands. Before bringing up the matter for discussion, let me give a short review of his scientific carrier:

Rainer Zimmermann, born in Berlin in 1951, studied mathematics and physics in Germany and England not far from those who have formulated some of the best candidates to provide a unified understanding of the physical world, then he arrived to philosophy after having deepened into the core knowledge of our natural sciences. Thus his philosophy has been a “philosophia ultima” in the first place, as he advocates that it properly should be. His academic itinerary shows an earnest dedication to both the updated knowledge about the world and a philosophical speculation driven to find a more adequate conception towards human life in its social praxis.  As professor of philosophy, he has taught and developed extensive interdisciplinary research in Berlin, Kassel and Munich, also in Cambridge (UK),Bologna and Salzburg.

In the territory of philosophy he has dug into the work of Sartre, Bloch, Schelling and Spinoza –among others – finding out that among them there is an underground thinking line which goes back to both Averroism and Stoicism. His inquiry into the work of these philosophers – as we can see in his recent “New ethics proved in geometrical order”– has not been a sort of mere archaeology of thinking or apologetic reflexion, but a sort of heuristic approach to current problems of our knowledge and praxis and particularly in the understanding of complex evolutionary systems. To this end he has respectfully followed the path pointed out by these authors though using the horizon of our current knowledge.

His approach can be better branded as transcendental materialism as he names it since 1990. He has authored about 350 publications including some 24 books and monographies, scientific articles in a broad spectrum of topics (from mathematics to ethics, from physics to political systems…).

J.M.: In your writings, you often refer to the necessity to reorient philosophy as it has been conceived in the 20th century in order to properly reflecting the world. You mention that it should be “visualized as a science of totality” following the works of Hans Heinz Holz, and you also consider the task of your own philosophy, the “transcendental materialism” as an “ultima philosophia” rather than a “prima philosophia” in the Aristotelian sense (referring to an expression introduced by Theunissen for the first time). As I understand, both things are closed related. Can you explain in some detail the requirements of this reorientation, as well as its alleged benefits?

R.Z.: The basic idea is that we cannot conceive a theoretical nucleus of what is traditionally called “metaphysics” as something which can be derived from first thoughts entailing then a picture of the world which prescribes so to speak the latter’s evolution and structure. Instead, we have to look first for what the sciences (and the arts as to that) are offering us in terms of insight. This present state of knowledge is our raw material for constructing then the desired picture of the world such that philosophy can be visualized as one which follows up the scientific and artistic modeling of fragments of the world rather than laying the grounds for them (this is Theunissen’s 1989 aspect of ultima philosophia) and, by doing so, drafts out an overarching “theory of everything” whilst composing a meta-theory telling us about what is common to the worldly fragments in structural terms, but also about what we actually do or have to do when developing theories about the world in the first place (this being Holzen’s aspect of philosophy as science of totality). The important point is here that within this approach, philosophy gains an explicitly empirical character: It is thus possible to speak not only of theoretical and practical philosophy, but also of experimental philosophy, namely by exploring possible worlds whilst exploring possible implications of scientific and artistic results and viewpoints. Thanks to recent developments in computer technology, these somehow “artificial worlds” can be modeled much more easily nowadays. (I have discussed these aspects in detail in my book on transcendental materialism and within the framework of the INTAS cooperation, led from 2000 through 2005 by Wolfgang Hofkirchner.) Obviously, this type of philosophy is achieving nothing else than what philosophy is always achieving: i.e. an improved orientation within the world in order to eventually draft adequate principles for an appropriate ethics. (more…)

Luciano Floridi


Oxford, UK, Oxford Univesity Press, 2011 (Hardback, 360 pp. $55.00)

As the author declares at the beginning of his book, it “brings together the outcome of ten years of research”. A project arisen by the intention of “looking for a philosophy that could be free from the anthropocentric obsession with the knowing subject, and from commonsensical introspection.” The result is a Philosophy of information (PI) that can be articulated in three fundamental questions: What is really information? How is it understood, investigated and manipulated? How can information be used to cope with philosophical problems? Though obviously not all these broad and open questions can be fully answered –and particularly not in the extent of a book– this work can be regarded as a first serious attempt of laying down the principles and conceptual foundations of this new area of research, named Philosophy of information. Following Floridi, PI can be “defined as the new philosophical field concerned with (a) the critical investigation of the conceptual nature and basic principles of information, including its dynamics, utilisation and sciences; and (b) the elaboration and application of information-theoretic and computational methodologies to philosophical problems.”

In order to settle the principles of PI, Floridi pursues three goals, which are metatheoretical, introductory and analytic. Its metatheoretical goal is to describe what the philosophy of information is, its problems, approaches, and methods. Its introductory goal is to help the reader to gain a better grasp of the complex and multifarious nature of the various concepts and phenomena related to information. Its analytic goal is to answer several key theoretical questions of great philosophical interest, arising from the investigation of semantic information. However, it is in the analysis of meaning and his proposed General Definition of Information (GDI) where we found unnecessary the requirements of meaningfulness (as well as truthfulness for semantic information) as proposed by Floridi, if the final intention is to grasp the universality of information; though it might be of course relevant in human contexts. In other words, we consider unsatisfactory the given approach to “the symbol grounding problem”, i.e. “how can data, constituting semantic information, acquire meaning in the first place?” To this respect we have elaborated a “GDI revisiting programme”. (See: Emergence and evolution of meaning).


From BITagora and the SoII directory board, we are very pleased to announce this conference, wishing it became a turning point in the erection of a new science of information. We wish to express our gratitude to all organisers and especially to Hua-Can He and to our colleagues Pedro, Wolfgang and Zong-Rong.

FlS 2010Towards a New Science of Information

Beijing: 20-23 August, 2010

Conference website: (


Continuing the series of FIS Conferences (Madrid 1994, Vienna 1996, Paris 2005) a new venue will be held in Beijing 2010.  In our times, an increasing number of disciplines are dealing with information in very different ways: from information society and information technology to communication studies (and related subjects like codes, meaning, knowledge, and intelligence), as well as quantum information, bioinformation, knowledge economy, network science, computer science and Internet, to name but a few. At the same time, an increasing number of scientists in the East and the West have been engaged with the foundational problems underlying this development, to such an extent that the integration of disciplines revolving around information seems an idea whose time has come. A new science of information can be envisaged that explores the possibilities of establishing a common ground around the information concept, of constructing a new scientific perspective that connects the different information-related disciplines and provides a new framework for transdisciplinary research.

The purpose of this conference is thus:

  • to enable the discussion of different concepts, theories and approaches to the information field,
  • to facilitate the exchange between informational disciplines concerning different but complementary tasks, objects of study, and methodologies,
  • to network researchers and research institutions as well as knowledge transfer institutions in the promotion of the new science of information,
  • to create a new community of scholars and to promote a new style of scholarship,
  • to advance a new point of view on global problems.


Wolfgang HofkirchnerInterviewer
: Francisco Salto & José María Díaz

Interviewee: Wolfgang Hofkirchner

Meet in the pleasant atmosphere of Sierra Pambley’s House (León, Spain), where the Colloquium BITae (around a unifying concept of information) was held in the last months of 2009, we interview Professor Hofkirchner with the goal of grasping some insights into his bold unifying approach to information.

We are very pleased to open this new arena for the furthering of the Science of Information interviewing you -Wolfgang- as a prominent figure in the Science of Information and leader of the Unified Theory of Information Reearch Group (UTI).

One of the main concerns of your work is the SYSTEM approach to information. There is a standard system concept defined as an arbitrary set with relations. How is system thinking to be applied to information? Moreover, which are in your view the limitations and strenghts of the standard concept of system?

In my opinion, the standard definition suffers from severe deficiencies. The most striking problem to me is that it does not account for the emergence of the systemic properties – and this despite the fact that system theory sets out to give a scientific understanding of the old saying “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. By that the standard definition foregoes the necessity to define the essence of a system which is effects of synergy on the level of the system. It is essential to distinguish two different levels in a system: the level of the parts and the level of the whole, or the micro- and the macrolevel, and to point out that on the macrolevel you find these emergent properties but not on the microlevel, and that both levels are coupled together by a certain dynamics that lets these properties emerge.