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Toward a post-technological information theory 

Toward a post-technological information theory
Chapter:
Toward a post-technological information theory
Source:
Philosophical Perspectives on Technology and Psychiatry
Author(s):

Donald Mender

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199207428.003.0007

The technological assumptions upon which 21st century psychiatry rests are instrumentally informational. In Foucault's terms, the general historical sequence of production modes has developed into a post-industrially instrumental ‘mode of information,’ which finds special expression in today's psychiatric reduction of mind to a data-processing instrument equated with a computer-like brain.

Yet instrumental information theory as it now stands is peculiarly ill-suited to the task of dealing with the ontologically situated meaning of psychological subjectivity: information theory's foundational formalism, explicitly inaugurated by Claude Shannon and continued in current practice, excludes intentionality from its own rubric, while the contingently instrumental reasoning of computer programming fails to engage the plenary challenges of existential necessity.

This paper will argue that a meaningful, non-instrumental reconstruction of information theory incorporating ontic intentionality is possible. The key to such an advance involves a shift from Shannon's formalism and computational instrumentalism to a semantically holistic and ontologically rooted adaptation of meta-theoretical constructs borrowed from post-Newtonian physics.

These constructs, which include gauge fields, spontaneously broken symmetries, path integrals, and quantum state collapse, can address both the semantic conundra and the existential gaps arising from current instrumentally informational paradigms. Moreover, such approaches imply radical new diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities for the future of psychiatry.

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