In recent years the philosophy of information has emerged as an important area of research in philosophy. However, until now information’s philosophical history has been largely overlooked.

Information and the History of Philosophy is the first comprehensive investigation of the history of philosophical questions around information, including work from before the Common Era to the twenty-first century. It covers scientific and technology-centred notions of information, views of human information processing, as well as socio-political topics such as the control and use of information in societies.

Organised into five parts, 19 chapters by an international team of contributors cover the following topics and more:

  • Information before 500 CE, including ancient Chinese, Greek and Roman approaches to information;
  • Early theories of information processing, sources of information and cognition;
  • Information and computation in Leibniz, visualised scientific information, copyright and social reform;
  • The nineteenth century, including biological information, knowledge economies and information’s role in empire and eugenics;
  • Recent and contemporary philosophy of information, including racialised information, Shannon information and the very idea of an information revolution.

Information and the History of Philosophy is a landmark publication in this emerging field. As such, it is essential reading for students and researchers in the history of philosophy, philosophy of science and technology, and library and information studies. It is also a valuable resource for those working in subjects such as the history of science, media and communication studies and intellectual history.

chapter |10 pages


ByChris Meyns

part Part I|66 pages

Information before 500 CE

chapter 1|14 pages

Yinyang information

Order, know-how, and a relation-based paradigm
ByRobin R. Wang

chapter 2|14 pages

Plato on the act of informing

Meaningful speech and education *
ByTamsin de Waal

chapter 3|18 pages

On information in Aristotle

Nature, perception, knowledge
ByMiira Tuominen

chapter 4|18 pages

Information and history of psychiatry

The case of the disease phrenitis
ByChiara Thumiger

part Part II|73 pages

Information 500–1500Access

chapter 5|28 pages

Vācaspati on aboutness and decomposition 1

ByNilanjan Das

chapter 7|14 pages

Avicenna on information processing and abstraction

ByLuis Xavier López-Farjeat

chapter 8|13 pages

Thomas Aquinas on cognition as information

ByCecilia Trifogli

part Part 3|75 pages

Information 1500–1800Control

chapter 9|24 pages

Leibniz as a precursor to Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory 1

ByRichard T. W. Arthur

chapter 10|21 pages

Information visualisation in the Philosophical Transactions

ByChris Meyns

chapter 11|13 pages

‘Dwindled into confusion and nonsense’

Information in a copyright perspective from the Statute of Anne to Google Books
ByStina Teilmann-Lock

chapter 12|15 pages

Information in the pursuit of social reform

ByLynn McDonald

part Part IV|71 pages

Information in the nineteenth century(Dangerous) systems

chapter 13|16 pages

The nineteenth-century information revolution and world peace

ByEdward Beasley

chapter 14|17 pages

Charles Babbage’s economy of knowledge

ByRenee Prendergast

chapter 15|19 pages

Mendel on developmental information

ByYafeng Shan

chapter 16|17 pages

Information and eugenics

Francis Galton
ByDebbie Challis, Subhadra Das

part Part V|67 pages

Information after 1900Insurgencies

chapter 17|23 pages

The racialization of information

W.E.B. Du Bois, early intersectionality, and social information
ByReiland Rabaka

chapter 18|17 pages

The many faces of Shannon information

ByOlimpia Lombardi, Cristian López

chapter 19|25 pages

Computers and system(s) science—the kingpins of modern technology

Lotfi Zadeh ’s glimpses into the future of the information revolution
ByRudolf Seising