On semiotic causality, levels of life, and the reification of resification

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A biosemiotic perspective upon modeling causation and levels of life can help inform our search for a deeper understanding of complex living systems. We attempt, first, to reify the notion of abstraction to include emergent natural processes of some kind, and second, to warrant the claim that it possible to find a kind of natural abstraction in natural systems when seen in a macro-historical perspective. The tradition of systems theory and non-linear dynamics see life as having emerged from non-living systems in an open process of generating new levels of organization. However, this perspective is incomplete and must be complemented with a conceptual model of how the newer more complex higher levels constrain and thus interpret, i.e., determine, processes and components at lower levels in the hierarchy, and that this kind of ‘downward causation’ is a semiotic process in the sense of involving natural interpretation and creation of new signification.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSemiotics in the Wild. : Essays in Honour of Kalevi Kull on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday.
EditorsTimo Maran, Kati Lindström, Riin Magnus, Morten Tønnesen
Number of pages7
PublisherTartu University Press
Publication date2012
ISBN (Print)978-9949-32-041-7
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ID: 40748201