Jesper Hoffmeyer:
SIGNS OF MEANING IN THE UNIVERSE (Indiana Univ. Press, 1996)

(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
The English translation of the 1993 classic by the Danish semiologist.
The "semiosphere" is the analogous to the atmosphere and the biosphere: it incorporates all forms of communications, from smells to waves: all signs of life. Every living organism must adapt to the semiosphere or die. The very reason for evolution is death: since organisms cannot survive in the physical sense they must survive in the semiotic sense, i.e. by making copies of themselves. "Heredity is semiotic survival".
By means of a long excursion in evolutionary biology and neurophysiology, the author concludes that at all level life must be viewed as a network of sign processes.
Hoffmeyer is intrigued by the theory of origins of language outlined by Merlin Donald: in the beginning there were stories, and then little by little individual words rose out of them. Which implies that the unit of communication among animals is the whole message, non the word. Language is fundamentally narrative in nature. Language is corporeal, has to do with motor-based behavior.
Then he also provides a semiotic definition of consciousness: a self-referential reconstruction of significative connections within a narratively arranged mental space.

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