Why and how to naturalize semiotic concepts for biosemiotics

Sign Systems Studies 30 (1):293-312 (2002)

Authors
Tommi Vehkavaara
University of Tampere
Abstract
Any attempt to develop biosemiotics either towards a new biological ground theory or towards a metaphysics of living nature necessitates some kind of naturalization of its semiotic concepts. Instead of standard physicalistic naturalism, a certain kind of semiotic naturalism is pursued here. The naturalized concepts are defined as referring only to the objects of our external experience. When the semiotic concepts are applied to natural phenomena in biosemiotics, there is a risk of falling into anthropomorphic errors if the semiotic concepts remain mentalistic. It is suggested that there really is an anthropomorphic error or “hidden prototype fallacy” arising from Peirce’s prototype for semiosis: the research process of an experimental scientist. The fallacy lies in the concept of the object of representation — it is questionable whether there are any objects of representation for bacteria and whether the DNA-signs have any objects. The conclusion is that Peircean semiotic concepts are naturalizable but only if they are based on some more primitive concept of representation. The causal origins of representations are not relevant, only their anticipative consequences (i.e. meaning)
Keywords Naturalization of concepts  Semiotics  anthropomorphic error  biosemiotics  Charles S. Peirce  concepts of sign
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DOI 10.5840/signsystems200230182
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References found in this work BETA

Exaptation–A Missing Term in the Science of Form.Stephen Jay Gould & Elisabeth S. Vrba - 1998 - In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.
Representational Content in Humans and Machines.Mark H. Bickhard - 1993 - Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 5:285-33.
Emergence.Mark H. Bickhard - 2000 - In P.B. Andersen, Claus Emmeche, N.O. Finnemann & P.V. Christiansen (eds.), Downward Causation. University of Aarhus Press. pp. 322-348.

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Citations of this work BETA

From the Logic of Science to the Logic of the Living.Tommi Vehkavaara - 2007 - In Marcello Barbieri (ed.), Introduction to biosemiotics. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 257-282.

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