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biosemioticsBiosemiotik (ger.)

  • The study of signs, of communication, and of information in living organisms. (The Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2012)

    According to the metaphysical presuppositions of biosemiotic life is the manifestation of a process that is coherent in itself. It actualizes and reveals meaning as it has spread over the earth in the form of all the various creatures. This process is anchored in physical structures and displays a mental and spiritual principle that through its intentionality transcends matter. In the latter entropy, the principle of death dominates. All laws of biosemiotic are founded on the axiom that the intentions of this transcending principle may manifest themselves only in symbolic form due to its very same transcending nature.

    Rothschild, F.S. (1962). Laws of symbolic mediation in the dynamics of self and personality. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 96, 774-784: 778.


    in what I’ve always called biosemiotics, but which Dr. Sebeok calls zoosemiotics, it seems very clear that human language seems to operate not so much in what we grandly call communication, but rather in orientation. The organism, as one individual in a behavioral population, seems to be necessarily oriented to a very complex environment.

    Stuart, C.I.J.M. (1965). [Discussion statement]. Report of the Annual Round Table Meeting on Linguistics and Language Studies 16, 133-4.


    biosemiotics (the study of gestures, facial expressions, postures, and other visual signals)

    Evans, W.F. (1968). Communication in the Animal World: 10.

    [Biosemiotik] psychophysischen […] Relation einmal Strukturen zu bilden, die man in ihren physikalischen Eigenschaften erforschen kann, und außerdem geistigen oder seelischen Intentionen als Ausdruck zu dienen
    Rothschild, F.S. (1989). Die Biosemiotik des menschlichen Gehirns. Dynam. Psychiat. 22, 191-206: 194.


    Bülow, G. & Schindler, I. (1993). Schöpfung durch Kommunikation. Die Biosemiotik Friedrich S. Rothschilds: 72.

    Ontologically, sign and function are related like the chicken and the egg: It is a bit absurd to ask which came first, the sign in nature or functions in nature: biosemiotically, both arise simultaneously in the same historical process, with the creation of the first organisms
    Emmeche, C. (2002). The chicken and the Orphean egg: on the function of meaning and the meaning of function. Sign Syst. Stud. 30.1, 15-32: 20f.; cf. 26f.

    Semiotics is the study of signs, and biosemiotics can be defined, therefore, as the study of signs in living systems.This is the‘literal’definition of the discipline, a version that can be referred to as sign-based biosemiotics because it is explicitly based on the concept of sign. Biosemiotics ,however, can also be defined as the study of codes in living systems, a version that is referred to as code-based biosemiotics. […] Biosemiotics is about a new biological paradigm that gives us (1) a new model of the cell, (2) a real alternative to physicalism, and (3) a new mechanism of evolution.

    Barbieri, M. (2008). Biosemiotics: a new understanding of life. Naturwissenschaften 95, 577-599: 577; 578.