The Shape of Biology to Come?

Tradition and Discovery 43 (1):32-50 (2017)
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Abstract

The essay discusses congruency issues in the biosemiotic approach of the Danish biochemist, Jesper Hoffmeyer. The authors understand Hoffmeyer’s anti-reductionistic approach to be similar to Michael Polanyi’s multi-layered ontology, but suggest that the Polanyian approach has fewer handicaps as a model-building enterprise. We offer a historical review of Hoffmeyer’s polarized narrative of 20th century biology and investigate his central thesis that life and semiosis are coextensive. We argue that Hoffmeyer conflates temporal and spatial features of semiotic systems, his account of emergentism is unclear and the relationship between semiotic evolution and punctuated equilibrium is vague, possibly entailing incongruent metaphysical views.

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Daniel Bardos
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

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