In this essay we argue for the possibility to describe the co-presence of species in a community as a consortium built by acoustic codes, using mainly the examples of bird choruses. In this particular case, the consortium is maintained via the sound-tope that different bird species create by singing in a chorus. More generally, the formation of acoustic codes as well as cohesive communicative systems (the consortia) can be seen as a result of plastic adaptational behaviour of the specimen who (...) can solve and avoid conflicts both with conspecifics and with other species in the vicinity. Thus, sign-relations appear to resolve potential conflicts, and as a foundation for symbiotic aggregations. The spatio-temporal configuration of consortia—their chronotope—includes several eco-fields as respective to different functions of the participating organisms. Biological study is combined with a semiotic approach that, as we suggest, should be more often used together to effectively describe ecological processes. (shrink)
In this article we review the biosemiotic art exhibition «Signs of life» (Livstegn), that was organized by the Danish installation artist Morten Skriver and the biosemiotician Jesper Hoffmeyer in 2011 at the Esbjerg Art Museum (Denmark). The exhibition presented five central (bio)semiotic concepts using artistic tools: the semiosphere, the sign, semiotic scaffolding, semiotic freedom, and surfaces.
The bibliography provides a list of all known English-language publications by Juri M. Lotman (including in co-authorship and reprints), in chronologicalorder, described de visu. The first English translation of J. Lotman’s work appeared in 1973, altogether there is 109 entries in the list. The bibliography demonstrates that in the 1970s and 1980s, most of the translations were published in the context of slavistics, whereas after 2000 Lotman’s work starts to appear in the anthologies of general semiotics.
The article gives a historical overview of the institutional development of semiotics in Estonia during two centuries, and describes briefly its current status. The key characteristics of semiotics in Estonia include: (1) seminal role of two world-level classics of semiotics from the University of Tartu, Juri Lotman and Jakob von Uexkull; (2) the impact of Tartu–Moscow school of semiotics, with a series of summer schools in Kaariku in 1960s and the establishment of semiotic study of culture; (3) the publication of (...) the international journal Sign Systems Studies, since 1964; (4) the development of biosemiotics, notably together with colleagues from Copenhagen; (5) teaching semiotics as a major in bachelor, master, and doctoral programs in the University of Tartu, since 1994; (6) a plurality of institutions — in addition to the Department of Semiotics in the University of Tartu, several supporting semiotic institutions have been established since 1990s; and (7) a wide scope of research in various branches of semiotics, including theoretical studies, empirical studies, and applied semiotics projects on governmental and other request. (shrink)
The article provides an overview of different approaches to the semiotic study of landscapes both in the field of semiotics proper and in landscape studiesin general. The article describes different approaches to the semiotic processes in landscapes from the semiological tradition where landscape has been seen as analogous to a text with its language, to more naturalized and phenomenological approaches, as well as ecosemiotic view of landscapes that goes beyond anthropocentric definitions. Special attention is paid to the potential of cultural (...) semiotics of Tartu–Moscow school for the analysis of landscapes and the possibilities held by a dynamic, dialogic and holistic landscape definition for the development of ecosemiotics. (shrink)
The interview with one of the founders of the Tartu–Moscow school, semiotician Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov (b. 1929) from August 2010, describes V. V. Ivanov’s opinions of several scholars and their work (including Evgenij Polivanov, Mikhail Bakhtin, Andrej Kolmogorov, Nikolaj Marr etc.), his relationships with his father Vsevolod Ivanov, as well as V. V. Ivanov’s views on the past and future of semiotics, with some emphasis on neurosemiotics, zoosemiotics, semiotics of culture, cybernetics, history of linguistics, study and protection of small languages. (...) The interview also deals with V. V. Ivanov’s book Even and Odd. (shrink)
Theses on the semiotic study of life as presented here provide a collectively formulated set of statements on what biology needs to be focused on in order to describe life as a process based on semiosis, or sign action. An aim of the biosemiotic approach is to explain how life evolves through all varieties of forms of communication and signification (including cellular adaptive behavior, animal communication, and human intellect) and to provide tools for grounding sign theories. We introduce the concept (...) of semiotic threshold zone and analyze the concepts of semiosis, function, umwelt, and the like as the basic concepts for theoretical biology. (shrink)
In this dialogue, we discuss the contrast between inexorable physical laws and the semiotic freedom of life. We agree that material and symbolic structures require complementary descriptions, as do the many hierarchical levels of their organizations. We try to clarify our concepts of laws, constraints, rules, symbols, memory, interpreters, and semiotic control. We briefly describe our different personal backgrounds that led us to a biosemiotic approach, and we speculate on the future directions of biosemiotics.
This article compares the methodologies of two types of sciences (according to J. Locke) — semiotics, and physics — and attempts thereby to characterise the semiotic and non-semiotic approaches to the description of ecosystems. The principal difference between the physical and semiotic sciences is that there exists just a single physical reality that is studied by physics via repetitiveness, whereas there are many semiotic realities that are studied as unique individuals. Seventeen complementary definitions of the semiosphere are listed, among them, (...) semiosphere defined as the space of qualitative (incommensurable) diversity. It is stated that, paradoxically, diversity, being a creation of communication, can also be destroyed due to excessive communication. (shrink)
Jakob von Uexküll’s evolutionary views are described and analysed in the context of changes in semiotic and biological thinking at the end of Modern age. As different from the late Modernist biology, a general feature of Post-Modern interpretation of living systems is that an evolutionary explanation has rather secondary importance, it is not obligatory for an understanding of adaptation. Adaptation as correspondence to environment is a communicative, hence a semiotic phenomenon.
Fundamental turns in biological understanding can be interpreted as replacements of deep models that organise the biological knowledge. Three deep models distinguished here are a holistic ladder model that sees all levels of nature being complete (from Aristotle to the 18th century), a modernist tree model that emphasises progress and evolution (from Enlightenment to the recent times), and a web model that evaluates diversity (since the 20th century). The turn from the tree model to the web model in biology includes (...) (1) a transfer from modern to postmodern approaches, (2) a shift of semiotic threshold to the border of life, and (3) building the semiotic models of living systems, i.e., the rise of biosemiotics. (shrink)
The article deals with the relationships between the concepts of life process and sign process, arguing against the simplified equation of these concepts. Assuming that organism (and its particular case — cell) is the carrier of what is called ‘life’, we attempt to find a correspondent notion in semiotics that can be equalled to the feature of being alive. A candidate for this is the textual process as a multiple sign action. Considering that biological texts are generally non-linguistic, the concept (...) of biotext should be used instead of ‘text’ in biology. (shrink)
This article analyses the possibility to look at living systems as biorhetorical systems. Rhetorics of biology, which studies the rhetoric of biological discourse, is distinguishable from biorhetorics, which attempts to analyse the expressive behaviour of organisms in terms of primordial (unconscious) rhetoric. The appearance of such a view is a logical consequence from recent developments in new (or general) rhetorics on the one hand (e.g., G. A. Kennedy's claim that rhetoric exists among social animals), and from the biosemiotic approach to (...) living systems on the other hand. (shrink)
This article poses the hypothesis that the problem of the intrinsic value of nature that stems from the work of G. E. Moore and is widely discussed in environmental philosophy, bas a parallel in a contemporary discussion in semiotics on the existence of semiosis in nature. From a semiotic point of view. value can be defined as an intentional dimension of sign. This is concordant with a biological interpretation of value that relates to biological needs. Thus. a semiotic approach in (...) biology may provide a useful tool for further analysis of the intrinsic value problem in the biological realm. From an ecosemiotic point of view, the problem is also related to the concepts of bioart and ecoart. Ecoart viz environmental art is that which encompasses the human ambience, e.g., landscape or its components. Bioart call be defined as the art whose material ("clay") is a living body, living matter or communication of organisms (which may include, e.g., genetic engineering). It is concluded that the acceptance of biosemiotic view has implications for a large area of ecological philosophy. (shrink)
Asking, whether plants have semiosis, the article gives a review of the works on phytosemiotics, referring to the tradition in botany that has seen plants as non-mechanic systems. This approach can use the concept of biological need as the primary holistic process in living systems. Demonstrating the similarity between the need and semiosis, it is concluded that sign is a meronomic entity. A distinction between five levels of sign systems is proposed: cellular, vegetative, animal, linguistic, and cultural. Vegetative sign systems (...) are those which are responsible for the morphogenesis and differentiation within an organism, thus belonging to all multicellular organisms. (shrink)