Jos de Mul. The Informatization of the worldview. In: Information, Communication & Society. Vol. 2, no. 1 (1999),69-94.

Abstract

The development of information and communication technology in the second half of the twentieth century in crucial respects resembles the development of mechanics in the sixteenth and seventeenth century as it has been described by Dijksterhuis in his study The Mechanization of the World Picture. In both cases specific technological developments not only lead to important changes in the natural and human sciences, but also profoundly affect culture as a whole and eventually result in a fundamental change in worldview. In this article the author attempts to elucidate the present ‘informatization of the worldview’ in a twofold way. On the one hand, against the background of Dijksterhuis’ analysis of the concept of mèchanè, a clarification is given of the concept of information, which has become central to many sciences in the last decades. It is argued that much of the confusion and misuse that surrounds (the application of) this concept can be reduced by making a careful distinction between the pragmatic, semantic and syntactic dimensions of information. Next, on basis of this clarification, the author discusses the transformation from a mechanistic to an informationistic worldview. Whereas the mechanistic worldview is characterized by the postulates of analyzability, lawfulness and controllability, the informationistic worldview is characterized by the postulates of synthetizability, programmability and manipulability. It is argued that although the informationistic worldview in some respects (for instance it its mathematical orientation) is clearly a continuation of the mechanistic worldview, in other respects it fundamentally alters human experience and the evaluation of, and association with reality.

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