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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 20, 1995

Arthur E. Falk
Pages 297-348

Essay on Nature’s Semeiosos

In this two-part essay I develop a theory of natural signs. Since even primordial signs signify values, in the first part I develop the theory’s valuative aspect. Goods are as primary in nature as facts are, and together facts and values generate semeiosis in all life without excess extrapolation from human psychology. To ward off over-extrapolating on values, I defend a major discontinuity between man and nature on the goods of ethics. In the essay’s second part I develop the semeiotic dimensions of the negative feedback model of purposive systems. I provide tests for the truth and falsity of the primitive representations in these systems. I account for the holism of representational systems and their non-extensionality, and I define functions. I solve this important definitional problem by inverting the usual mode of thinking: Functions do not explain signs; signs explain functions. Finally I defend this theory’s way of understanding the continuity between human beings and the rest of living nature against several criticisms.

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