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Multiple Doctrines of Information
1  China Youth University For Political Studies


There are four doctrines of information in the print publications and cyber source: informationalism, informatisminformationism and informatilism. Among them the informationism is mainly used in philosophy. Based on the research in China there are difference dimensions for philosophical informationism: axiological informationism, epistemological informationism and ontological informationism.

Ontological informationism is the most important philosophical informationism, its famous point is “It from bit” and “Everything is information” by John Archibald Wheeler. In China there also are some similar viewpoints, such as “information is the fundamental factor of the universe”, “The material is an aggregate of information”(Wang Jiang-huo), “Information generate world, the universe is a deductive process of information”(Shen Xin-xi), and so on.

“Ontology” is a very complex concept, if it is interpreted as the theory of the essence of “being” or the foundation of the world (what initiates the another one between physical and mental phenomena), then the ontological doctrine can be differentiated into materialism and idealism, so we will face the problems of relationship between informationism and materialism or idealism. So far there are three different views about it which can be found: The first one thinks of it as a new form of materialism (Rafael Capurro); The second one takes it as a new form of idealism (Miao Dongsheng); The third one asserts that it is beyond materialism and idealism and belongs to the third form of ontology theory (Shen Xinxi, maybe including Wu Kun).

How to understand information philosophically decided how to evaluate ontological informationism for us. In my opinion, because the information is not equal to the material or any physical items, so the ontological informationism as a form of materialism is not reasonable. And due to the existence of information is inseparable not only from material but also from person's consciousness, namely the information is not the third being beyond the physical and mental phenomena, so the ontological informationism as third kinds of ontological doctrine transcending materialism and idealism is also untenable.

Further to see how to understand information philosophically is determined by how to understand philosophy. If we see it as the studies of the relation between Men and world, the information as a philosophical concept should be understood involving human being rather than a phenomenon unrelated to people, i.e. there is no “nature information”, all information is “human information”, More immediately, information can be regarded as the virtual form of material reality, it belongs to the mental world—a mental phenomenon emphasizing communication and semantic function. With this understanding of information and philosophy, we can say that the ontological informationism is a new form of idealism. If you are a materialist, you certainly will not agree to it.


  1. David Lyon , The information society. Issues and illusions,Cambridge, Polity Press, 1988.
  2. Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society,Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 1996.
  3. From Wikipedia, Information art,
  4. Shi Yang, Informatism,
  5. John A. Wheeler, At Home in the Universe, New York, Spring-Verlag Inc., 1996.
  6. Rafael Capurro, etc., Is a Unified Theory of Information Feasible?
  7. Richard Price, Informationism,
  8. Miao Dongsheng: A review of Wheeler's information view, Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Social Science Edition), Wuhan, China, 2008(2).
  9. Wu Kun, Philosophy of information, The Commercial Press, Beijing, 2005.
  10. Shen Xinxi, Informatilism, Cozy House Publisher, New York, 2007.
  11. Wang Jiang-huo, Unified theory of information, China University of Political Science and Law Press, Beijing, 2012.
Keywords: Ontological Informationism, materialism, idealism