We offer a general definition of interpretation based on a naturalized teleology. The definition tests and extends the biosemiotic paradigm by seeking to provide a philosophically robust resource for investigating the possible role of semiosis (processes of representation and interpretation) in biological systems. We show that our definition provides a way of understanding various possible kinds of misinterpretation, illustrate the definition using examples at the cellular and subcellular level, and test the definition by applying it to a potential counterexample. We (...) explain how we propose to use the definition as a way of asking new questions about what distinguishes life from non-life and of formulating testable hypotheses within the field of origin-of-life research. If the definition leads to fruitful new empirical approaches to the scientific problem of the origin of life, it will help to establish biosemiotics as a legitimate philosophical approach in theoretical biology and will thereby support a theological appropriation of the biosemiotic perspective as the basis of a new theology of nature. (shrink)
We provide an overview of a proposal for a new metaphysical framework within which theology and science might both find a home. Our proposal draws on the triadic semiotics and threefold system of metaphysical categories of C. S. Peirce. We summarize the key features of a semiotic model of the Trinity, based on observed parallels between Peirce's categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness and Christian thinking about, respectively, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We test and extend the semiotic model (...) by exploring how Peirce's taxonomy of signs offers a new approach to theological reflection on the Incarnation. This leads to a novel way of framing scientific questions about human evolution in semiotic terms and to a new approach to theological anthropology. Finally, we use the semiotic model of the Trinity as the basis of a trinitarian approach to the theology of creation according to which the semiotic processes that are fundamental to life and to human behavior and cognition may be understood as “vestiges of the Trinity in creation.”. (shrink)
We introduce a two-part collection of articles (Part 2 to appear in the September 2010 issue) exploring a possible new research program in the field of science and religion. At the center of the program lies an attempt to develop a new theology of nature drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce. Our overall idea is that the fundamental structure of the world is exactly that required for the emergence of meaning and truth-bearing representation. We understand the emergence of (...) a capacity to interpret an environment to be important to the emergence of life, and we see the subsequent history of biological evolution as a story of increasing capacities for meaning making and meaning seeking. Theologically, we understand God to be the ground of all such meaning making and the ultimate goal of the universe's emerging capacity for interpreting signs. Here we explain our reasons for seeking a new metaphysical framework in which science and theology may each find a home. We survey the contributions to the two-part collection, and we suggest that the interdisciplinary collaboration from which these have arisen may serve as a methodological model for the field of science and religion. (shrink)
Kalevi Kull and colleagues recently proposed eight theses as a conceptual basis for the field of biosemiotics. We use these theses as a framework for discussing important current areas of debate in biosemiotics with particular reference to the articles collected in this issue of Zygon.
We draw on Short’s work on Peirce’s theory of signs to propose a new general definition of interpretation. Short argues that Peirce’s semiotics rests on his naturalised teleology. Our proposal extends Short’s work by modifying his definition of interpretation so as to make it more generally applicable to putatively interpretative processes in biological systems. We use our definition as the basis of an account of different kinds of misinterpretation and we discuss some questions raised by the definition by reference to (...) parallel problems in the field of teleosemantics. We propose that interpretative responses fulfilling the criteria of our definition may be made by relatively simple molecular entities and we suggest two specific empirical applications of the definition to experimental work in the field of origin of life research. Our wider aim is to suggest that a well formulated naturalistic definition of interpretation will allow a re-evaluation of the role of semiotic phenomena in biological systems, including the generation of empirically testable hypotheses. (shrink)
Drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce, Robinson develops a ‘semiotic model’ of the Trinity and proposes a new theology of nature according to which the evolving cosmos may be understood as bearing ‘vestiges of the Trinity in ...
This article investigates the role of ‘anarchy’ in state securitisation. First, we discuss state hierarchies’ struggle with active and reactive anarchic networks, theorising a state in existential crisis, which exploits anti-anarchist discourses to respond to network threats. In the second part, we illustrate with examples the use of fear of anarchy in hierarchical productive structures of securitisation. As an ‘antiproduction assemblage’, the state treats logics stemming from the ‘social principle’ as a repressed Real, the exclusion of which underpins its own (...) functioning. The scarcity and fear resulting from state terror ensure responses to this structural violence by reactive networks, while paradoxically also exacerbating reactive tendencies within social movements. In the concluding part, we discuss visions of desecuritising society, breaking away from majoritarian logics of control and the coming of other worlds counterposed to the hierarchies producing and reproducing an eternal loop of state and ne... (shrink)
The work of Slavoj Žižek has become an essential reference point for debates concerning the future of left radical thought and practice. His attacks on identity politics, multiculturalism and ‘radical democracy’ have established him as a leading figure amongst those looking to renew the link between socialist discourse and a transformative politics. However, we contend that despite the undeniable radicality of Žižek’s theoretical approach, his politics offers little in the way of inspiration for the progressive left. On the contrary, his (...) commitment to Lacanian categories reasserts the primordial character of alienation, hierarchy and domination, and his proposed schema for confronting the status quo, the model of the Act, serves to reaffirm rather than contest the given. We suggest that a genuinely transformative politics should (contra Žižek) stress the necessity for the prefiguration of alternatives, of linking and radicalizing ‘petty’ resistances, of encouraging critical and utopian forms of thought and activity. (shrink)
In the preceding article in this section, F. LeRon Shults responds to our article preceding his, “Semiotics as a Metaphysical Framework for Christian Theology.” We respond here to his criticisms of our proposal. We discuss his concerns about the concept of “vestiges of the Trinity in creation” and argue that this does not undermine the absolute ontological difference between God and creation. We offer a clarification of our idea that the Incarnation may be understood, in terms of Peirce's taxonomy of (...) signs, as a qualisign of God's being. Finally, we discuss the idea that all symbols “break on the infinite.”. (shrink)
We introduce the second part of a two-part collection of articles exploring a possible new research program in the field of science and religion. At the center of the program lies an attempt to develop a new theology of nature drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce. Our overall idea is that the fundamental structure of the world is exactly that required for the emergence of meaning and truth-bearing representation. We understand the emergence of a capacity to interpret an (...) environment to be important to the emergence of life, and we see the subsequent history of biological evolution as a story of increasing capacities for meaning-making and -seeking. Theologically, we understand God to be the ground of all such meaning-making and the ultimate goal of the universe's emerging capacity for interpreting signs. Here we summarize the articles in Part 1, which focused on scientific and philosophical aspects of the research program, and introduce Part 2, which turns to the theological outworking of the project. (shrink)
Discussions on the nature of reality between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet, philosopher and Nobel laureate, have provoked interest among both physicists and philosophers since their first publication in 1930/31. This article points out their relevance to past and present debates about the meaning of quantum mechanics.
Abstract This article examines Gramsci?s theory of common sense and the implications of this theory for understanding social transformation and theorising political activity. Gramsci analyses common sense as a pervasive, though confused and contradictory, variety of ideology. For Gramsci the point is to challenge and question this pervasive ideology and its incoherence, confusion, passivity, and political conservatism. The task is to involve the construction of a new conception of the world, in opposition to existing belief?systems, and what he terms an (...) ?intellectual and moral reformation?. By transforming modes of thinking and acting, such a transformation is conceived as revolutionising political possibilities, altering the potentialities inherent in a conjuncture. This approach of Gramsci?s dovetails with revolutionary and radical political movements, suggesting a more fundamental challenge to capitalism and a forgotten but very energetic potential project of revolutionary transformation. (shrink)
This is a concordance of page numbers in the following editions of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception: English editions prior to the Routledge Classics 2002; Routledge Classics edition, with the new pagination; the French edition from Gallimard, prior to 2005; the 2e edition from Gallimard, 2005, with new pagination.
Genius is highly individual and unique yet it shares a compelling quality. In this intriguing introduction Andrew Robinson uses the life and work of familiar geniuses - and some less familiar - to consider what their achievements have in common; whether its heredity, education, hard work, intelligence or just plain luck.
This article explores the contemporary ‘symptomatic’ position of radically excluded social groups through a critical engagement with the work of Žižek, Deleuze and Guattari. It begins with a presentation and critique of Žižek's theorisation, arguing that while he correctly perceives the symptomatic status of certain social groups and issues, his approach is insufficiently radical because of its reliance on inappropriate structuralist assumptions and metaphysical negativity. It then compares this theory to Deleuze and Guattari's theory of minoritarianism, viewed as a similar (...) attempt to engage with the symptomatic effects of exclusion. A political trajectory is derived from Deleuze and Guattari's theory which reconceives the politics of the excluded in terms of emancipatory lines of flight rather than gestures of identification. The article then explores social movements arising from the growing phenomenon of global exclusion in neoliberalism, looking at examples such as Somalia and Bolivia, and proposing autonomy and networked approaches to social life as responses to exclusion which reconfigure social space in affirmative ways. (shrink)
One approach to validating simulation models is to formally compare model outputs with independent data. We consider such model validation from the point of view of Frequentist statistics. A range of estimates and tests of goodness of fit have been advanced. We review these approaches, and demonstrate that some of the tests suffer from difficulties in interpretation because they rely on the null hypothesisHypothesis that the model is similar to the observationsObservations. This reliance creates two unpleasant possibilities, namely, a model (...) could be spuriously validated when dataData are too few, or inappropriately rejected when data are too many. Finally, these tests do not allow a principled declaration of what a reasonable level of difference would be considering the purposes to which the model will be put. We consider equivalence tests, and demonstrate that they do not suffer from the previously identified shortcomings. We provide two case studies to illustrate the claims of the chapter. (shrink)