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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 34, Issue 1, 2006

Guido Ipsen
Pages 83-103

From environment to culture
Aspects of continuity

The conceptualization of the lifeworld of any species includes a reformation of the matter found in the environment into concepts which make up the species-specific Umwelt. This paper argues that the human agency in conceptualising the Umwelt necessarily transforms what we usually call “nature” into so-called “culture”. Ultimatively, this human activity has two consequences which we cannot escape, but which have an influence not only on our perception of the environment, but also on our theorising about what has been called the “nature-culture divide”, the “semiotic threshold” respectively: First, any environmental perception is at once conceived of in cultural terms. Second, whatever “nature” may be, our including it into the cultural discourse removes it from our immediate cognition.

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