Friday, June 13, 2014

The Scope of Semiosis: Can Non-living Systems be Considered Semiosic?

An interesting paper on how biosemiotics approaches non-living artifactual, semiosic systems.

Link HERE.  Copying abstract below.

"Peirce, Biosemiotics, and the Scope of Semiosis"
Jonathan Beever
Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University

Biosemiotics relies on an account of semiosis, or meaning making. That account is fundamentally Peircean, using Peirce's triadicity to extend semiosis beyond human communication to all living systems. But the scope of semosis is an open question whose answer might be that not only all living systems but also some nonliving ones must be considered semiosic: an unpleasant result for the biosemiotician. This paper will demonstrate the Peircean basis of biosemiotics and examine a range of justifications for stopping semiosis at life, finding each one insufficient in distinguishing between our common conceptions of life and artifact. This problem - namely, how the biosemiotician might conceptually differentiate, say, trees from thermostats within the Peircean framework - points to an important problem for both biology and Peirce scholarship.