Author Admin / 2017-11-17
from the class (Sept. 27): Meaning and Event

Meaning, Information, and Event

If we donate to an organization or help others to finish their hard works? What do we mean by those, to us or our society? If you visit the Science Walden Pavillion (i.e., the Sa-Wol-Dang) in UNIST and poo at the BeeVi (like a bee with a vision) toilet, what meaning can you have from your act? Niklas Luhmann told in his book, Social Systems (1995), that meaning is a difference between what is actual at a time and what is possible. He also said that meaning extracts the difference from a structure within a system (infrastructure) to provide information. When we recently had a big earthquake of an intensity of 5.8 in the Gyungjoo city, we can imagine all the possible: collapses of cultural properties or highways, ruptures of high buildings, injuries of people, tsunami, and many others. Among those the possible, we had some especially in the Gyungjoo city at that time. Thus, we have meanings from the earthquake. We may ask whether all the happenings in actual can be classified as meaning. It depends on selection by the society that gets involved in the occurrence thus we know "meaning" is related to the decision of either society or individual.

We call selected ones among the meanings further as events. 'Meaning' is similar to 'event' under the system theory as both meaning and event matter in a small period and at specified space. However, there is also a difference between the two. 'Event' has greater the capability to break off the frame that enables to make the real appear than 'meaning.' (book, Event, by Slavoj Zizek). According to Zizek, through an event, we can rebuild our frames to judge what is true differently from the time before the event and to have a different scale or reference for our expectation because we receive either a fall or shift of our expectation and subsequent trauma from the event. Then, we have newly formed symbolic order shaken by the event, and we can experience new flows of the sensible which are coupled with another following event. It is a circle of the formation of events.

Information is the subcategory of meaning. Thus, information is also selected similarly but extracted as the differences between the possible and the actual, using structures. Luhmann said information presupposes structure when being selected. With the previous earthquake example, the meanings and events become information insofar as it is obtained using a structure, including earthquake monitoring devices to be operated by expertises; monitoring units based structure or format to provide information. The structure for information is not necessarily device or instrument based form but includes any form, such a network of persons, school, corporation, NGO, government, law etc.

Communication involves information and occurs through a form of exchange of information between at least two. Thus, communication also involves consciousness. The communications comprise our society as a system that varies with time, through events in the individuals at different times and spaces.