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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 31, Issue 1, 2003

Augusto Ponzio
Pages 25-62

Modeling, dialogue, and globality
Biosemiotics and semiotics of self. 1. Semiosis, modeling, and dialogism

With our paper we intend to offer a critical overview of state of the art in semiotics, with specific reference to theoretical problems concerning the relationship between culture and nature. In other words, we intend to focus on the relationship between the concepts of semiosphere (Lotman) and biosphere (Vernadsky) considering the various approaches to this issue and proposing our own point of view. An important reference for a valid overview view of semiotics today is the Handbook Semiotik/Semiotics. It is no incident that the subtitle of this work is A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. In this handbook a fundamental role is carried out by Thomas A. Sebeok and his particular approach to semiotics, which may be designated as ‘global semiotics’. One of the pivotal concepts in Sebeok’s global semiotics is that of modeling which traverses nature and culture. This concept connects natural semiosis and cultural semiosis and ensues in an original formulation of the relationship between the notions of ‘semiosphere’ and ‘biosphere’. Such problematics respond to semiotic research in Tartu today, especially as it finds expression in the present journal. And, in fact, as in his book of 2001, Global Semiotics, Sebeok often underlined the importance of the Estonian connection himself in his writings for the development of semiotics.