Volume 47, Issue 3/4, 2019
Claudio J. Rodriguez Higuera
Everything seems so settled here
The conceivability of post-Peircean biosemiotics
Theory change is a slow, tortuous process. Problems associated with how we communicate ideas and how these ideas are received by our peers become catalysts for change in how we ourselves perceive and sanction what the discipline is capable of doing. Some parts of semiotics, and particularly biosemiotics, have come under critical scrutiny because of their heavy commitment to Peircean philosophy, but at the same time, the contributions of Peircean philosophy are almost impossible to discount. The ripples of this situation are quite visible in the emergence of code biology as a post-semiotic research programme. Yet there is a general balance between those who do not put that much stock in Peircean concepts and those who cannot conceive semiotics without these.
This paper will ask whether a biosemiotics after Peirce is possible at all in the sense of acknowledging Peirce’s contributions to the field while also taking to heart the criticisms raised by those skeptical of the implications of Peircean semiotics. While the answer is most likely positive, it depends on what background our concept of meaning relies on and how it may bleed into the other areas of semiotics that biosemiotics may claim a stake on. Being able to discuss potential theoretical distinctions across semiotics while also allowing communication between the areas caught in this differentiation will be crucial for the health of the discipline as the gap between theories becomes more profound.