In reply to my message below, mon 4 June, Robin wrote:

I agree with everything you say about meaning except that it does away
with the problems associated with information and understanding. The
idea that we can just drop the concept of information I find literally
incredible: its use is practically universal. Your suggestion offers
no insights that I can see, avoiding problems by ignoring them, rather
than solving them or showing them to be pseudo-problems.

Robin, just because the concept of information is used universally it does 
not mean it is applicable in every situation. I have found, in many 
debates, that people often argue from a present day and human point of 
view. We should anchor our arguments and definitions in the processes that 
have given rise to the present situation and consider if they are 
applicable at all the stages of development, from the inanimate to the 
complexity of the human being.

I do not believe we can speak of information when considering the early, 
physical development of the Earth. Things at that time JUST WERE, they did 
not ooze information, they weren't information, they weren't made of 
When organisms evolved, the environment did not *inform* them, the new 
entities merely evolved responses to various aspects of the environment 
that by chance had proved to be of survival value.

A stimulus is not understood (as we understand the word) by lower 
organisms when they physically and/or physiologically respond to it. The 
act of responding indicates that the stimulus has meaning for the 
organism, but the response is not determined by the stimulus but by the 
organism. So stimuli are not information (as we understand the word) but 
environmental events to which a particular organism responds in a 
particular way.

I do not believe it is any different for human beings. Let us consider  
the neural correlates of what we term "understanding". Suddenly 
understanding (after not understanding) is as much a feeling (probably one 
of release) as anything else. Returning to my ideas concerning the use of 
pronouns when discussing brain activity: "we", "I", "they" do not 
understand. What has happened when experiencing  the feeling associated 
with the word "understanding" is that the new ideas have found conformity 
with extant models and principles.

 We suppose understanding to be a conscious phenomenon; it is not, and 
just because we have developed a system of communication that is suitable 
for social intercourse, there is no reason to believe it is also useful in 
discussing aspects of the completely different realm of neurology. 
Information and understanding, as they are generally conceived, belong to 
the cultural realm, and as information/stimuli do not determine meaning, 
and understanding is not a conscious phenomenon, then, in this situation, 
our nervous system does not function so differently to that of lower 
organisms, we are merely able to say it does.