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21. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Felice Cimatti The circular semiosis of Giorgio Prodi
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Prodi's semiotics theory comes into being to answer a radical question: if a sign is a cross-reference, what guarantees the relation between the sign and the object to which it is referring? Prodi rebukes all traditional solutions: a subject's voluntary intention, a convention, the iconic relation between sign and object. He refutes the fIrst answer because the notion of intention, upon which it is based, is, indeed, a fully mysterious entity. The conventionalist answer is just as unsatisfactory for it does nothing but extends to a whole group that which cannot be explained for a single component; the iconic one, finally, is rejected toosince in this case the notion of "likeliness", as the basis of the concept of "iconicity", is not explained. Prodi's answer is to locate the model of semiotic relations in the figure of the circle. The circle is life, which is nothing else but an infinite chain of translation and recognition relations amidst ever more complex systems. The circle has neither a beginning nor an end. It has no foundation, no established rule. It holds no cause that cannot become, in turn, effect. Semiosis, then, is based upon life for life, itself, is intrinsically semiotic. We can put the world in signs, that is we can come to know it, because we, ourselves, are a part of that very worldthat through us is made known. Finally, what this implies is that being inside the circle of semiosis-life, an issue arises what is beyond that circle: that is both an aesthetic and a religious problem.
22. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Winfried Nöth Protosemiotics and physicosemiosis
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Protosemiotics is the study of the rudiments of semiosis, primarily in nature. The extension of the semiotic field from culture to nature is both necessary and possible in the framework of Peirce's semiotic theory. Against this extension, the critique of pansemiotism has been raised. However, Peirce's semiotics is not pansemiotic since it is based on the criterion of thirdness, which is not ubiquitous in nature. The paper examines the criteria of protosemiosis in the domain of physical and mechanical processes.
23. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Jesper Hoffmeyer S/E ≥ 1: A semiotic understanding of bioengineering
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Natural (non-cultivated) systems are nmed to economize their use of energy as much as possible, and thereby to produce minimal amounts of entropy. It is suggested that this has been obtained by optimizing the evolutionary creation of semiotic controls on all processes of life. As long as biological (ultimately photosynthetic) energy sources satisfied most human needs for energy consumption, these biosemiotic controls remained largely undisturbed, with the result that production systems remained sustainable. The industrial revolution instantiated a ruphure of this balanced situation. The semiotic control function (S) would no longer match the size of the energy flow (E). In the industrial production system, energy flows have dramatically been increased, while the S component has not been taken care of. This has created a dangerously low S/E ratio, and it is suggested that this low S/E ratio constitutes a fundamental explanation of the environmental crisis. In order to restore a sustainable production system, we will now have to develop technological means for a strong increase in the S factor of the production system. It is suggested that this can be obtained through a development of considerate, gentle, and clever forms of biosemiotic technology.
24. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Augusto Ponzio, Susan Petrilli Bioethics, semiotics of life, and global communication
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Ethical problems connected with biological and medical discoveries in genetic engineering, neurobiology and pharmaceutical research, reach a unified and critical point of view in bioethics as a specific discipline. But even before reaching this stage, ethical problems already belong to two totalities: the semiobiosphere. and the current social form of global communication. Coherently with its philosophical orientation, bioethics must necessarily keep accountof this double contextualisation. The semiobiosphere is the object of study of global semiotics or the semiotics of life. Global semiotics is of particular interest to bioethics not only because of the broad context it provides for the problems treated by bioethics, but also because it provides bioethics with an adequate contextualisation both in terms of extension, of quantity, as well as of quality. From this point of view, "contextualisation" also means critical reformulation. We are now alluding to the need of viewing bioethical problems in the light of today's socio-economic context, that is, in the context of global communication-production. These contextualisations are closely related from the viewpoint of ethics. Semiotics as global semiotics or semiotics of life must accept the responsibility of denouncing incongruencies in the global system, any threats to life over the entire planet inherent in this system.
25. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Dario Martinelli Methodologies and problems in zoomusicology
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The article sketches an introductory outline of zoomusicology as a discipline closely related to zoosemiotics, focusing on the existing results and formulating few further problems. The analysis addresses the limitations and potentials of zoomusicological research, problematic topics, a basic framework of possible methodologies, and an attempt to situate the discipline in relation to other fields, ethnomusicology in particular.
26. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Riste Keskpaik Towards a semiotic definition of trash
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The phenomenon of trash has rarely been addressed in the cultural theoretical literature. However, its structural similarity with the concept of taboo as well as its role in the dynamics of culture has been stated. Current paper aims to summarize the partial contributions that have been made so far, localize them in a larger semiotic framework, and deriving from Lonnan's approach to culture suggest a few further ideas for a semiotic definition of trash. It is proposed to define trash as a phenomenon marking the boundary between culhlre and non-culture/nature. In the context of the deepening environmental crisis (to which accumulation of trash contributes) a semiotic approach opens a new perspective for identifying the origin of the problem in our mind/culture rather than in nature.
27. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Solomon Marcus Conway's game of life and the ecosystem represented by Uexküll's concept of Umwelt
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Inspired by a mathematical ecology of thearre (M. Dinu) and the eco-grammar systems (E. Csuhaj-Varju et al.), this paper gives a brief analysis of simple cellular automata games in order to demonstrate their primary semiotic features. In particular, the behaviour of configurations in Conway's game of life is compared to several general features of Uexküll's concept of Umwelt. It is concluded that ecological processes have a fundamental semiotic dimension.
28. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Svend Erik Larsen Nature between fact and fiction: A note on virtual reality
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The paper places the trendy notion of virtuality and virtual reality in a conceptual and historical context that makes it useful in a semiotic perspective. Virtuality is connected with the classical notion of fictionality, in its meaning of both invention and deception. Historically an active, a passive, and a neutral version of the concept can be distinguished. The notion is reinterpreted as a variant of the semiotic processes of deixis. In relation to nature - scenarios, prognoses, hypotheses, etc. - virtuality is seen as a means of anchoring the human subject in nature instead of constructing a nonreal universe separated from it.
29. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Winfried Nöth, Kalevi Kull Introduction: Special issue on semiotics of nature
30. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Claus Emmeche Bioinvasion, globalization, and the contingency of cultural and biological diversity: Some ecosemiotic observations
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The increasing problem of bioinvasion (the mixing up of natural species characterising the planet's local ecosystems due to globalisation) is investigated as an example of an ecosemiotic problematic. One concern is the scarcity of scientific knowledge about long term ecological and evolutionary consequences of invading species. It is argued that a natural science conception of the ecology of bioinvasion should be supplemented with an ecosemiotic understanding of the significance of these problems in relation to human culture, the question of cultural diversity, and what it means to be indigenous or foreign. Bioinvasion, extinction of native species, and overall decrease in biodiversity, may go along with decreased cultural diversity; as when the loss of local agricultural traditions lead to genetic erosion. There are possible ecosemiotic parallels between language extinction and species extinction, both being related to globalisation. It is argued that the case of bioinvasion reveals the existence of two kinds of ecosemiotic contingency, (1) evolutionary openended and partly random generation of new species and extinction of old ones; (2) the historicity of culture in general and "culture's nature" specifically in the demarcation of a set of landscapes characteristic to a particular nation and piece of human history.