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Knowledge and the Flow of Information cover

Knowledge and the Flow of Information

Fred I. Dretske

An attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form (experience) for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning (or belief content) by viewing meaning as a certain kind of information-carrying role.

Fred I. Dretske is Nbella and Eloise Maybury Knapp Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Part I Information

  • Chapter 1: Communication Theory
    • Amount of Information Generated
    • Amount of Information Transmitted
    • Causality and Information
  • Chapter 2: Communication and Information
    • The Ordinary Concept of Information
    • The Proper Measure of Information
    • Communication Restrictions on the Flow of Information

    Chapter 3: A Semantic Theory of Information

    Part II Knowledge and Perception

  • Chapter 4: Knowledge and Perception
  • Chapter 5: The Communication Channel
    • Absolute Concepts
    • Channel Conditions
    • Relevant Possibilities and Skepticism
  • Chapter 6: Sensation and Perception
    • Analog and Digital Coding
    • Sensory vs. Cognitive Processes
    • The Objects of Perception

    Part III Meaning and Belief

  • Chapter 7: Coding and Content
  • Chapter 8: The Structure of Belief
  • Chapter 9: Concepts and Meaning
    • Simple and Complex Concepts
    • The Informational Origin of Concepts
    • Innate Concepts

  • Notes
  • Index


ISBN (Paperback): 157586195X (9781575861951)
ISBN (electronic): 157586715X (9781575867151)

Subject: Philosophy; Theory of Knowledge; Information Theory

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