On Meaning: A Biosemiotic Approach [Book Review]

Biosemiotics 3 (1):107-130 (2010)
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A life form and its environment constitute an essential unit, a microcosm. This microcosm is sustained by a privileged dialectic relationship in which the embedded agent- an entity endowed with a particular physical architecture- and its specific environment, coupled, mutually influence each other. Identical principles rule both the basic forms of semiotic organisation and the upper forms. When we distinguish these two levels of semiotic structuring we are distinguishing the semiotic relations that involve a stimulus-response relationship, which is dyadic in nature, from those that involve a more complex relationship where the capacity of symbolically encoding allows organisms to go beyond the immediacy of sensory awareness. However in all instances of semiotic structuring, there is the presence of a living system that evolves in an environment individuating and assigning a value to typical environmental features. Acknowledging this fact is crucial: the inquiry into how elemental life forms interact with their environments leads to the identification of the fundamental role played by the physical architecture of the agent and sheds light on the semiotic process that is common to all life forms, ultimately highlighting the very nature of meaning and reality



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