And this really tickles me: Biosemiotics

Biosemiotics: Searching for meanings in a meadow. Not as fluffy as it sounds.

Biosemiotics is the study of the myriad forms of communications… observable both within and between living systems. It is thus the study of representation, meaning, sense, and the biological significance of sign processes- from intracellular signalling processes to animal display behaviour to human… artefacts such as language and abstract symbolic thought.
(Donald Favareau of the National University of Singapore)

“Piece saw all signs as involving a triadic relation: the sign “vehicle” (the red spots); the “object” to which the sign-bearer refers (measles); and the “interpretant”, the system that allows the realisation of the sign-object relation to take place (the doctor’s thinking) and that acts accordingly upon that relation.

He wanted to investigate and uncover the complex logic by which “in every scientific intelligence, one sign gives birth to another, and especially one thought brings forth another”. His insight was to see that even the simplest sign must be considered as a triadic relation, in which the sign vehicle, object and interpreting system all play ineliminable parts – an insight biosemioticians believe science would do well to explore more fully.

This realisation led Peirce away from devising linear chains of logic that relied on just two factors, to the construction of a “sign” logic that is an endlessly branching, multidimensional network. Although Peirce’s work is theoretical, there are clear parallels between von Uexküll’s model of the meadow, filled with different meanings, interpreted by the different biological systems of different creatures, and Peirce’s model of the sign as ultimately a kind of relation that living agents adopt towards things for the accomplishment of various ends and actions.” (From the article.)

Essential Readings in Biosemiotics by Donald Favareau would be a very interesting read, no doubt. The £180 price tag doesn’t exactly have me waving my VISA-card around, but there is a link to an online copy (SpringerLink) that will set you back £25 (online only).


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