, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 277–287 | Cite as

Delectable Creatures and the Fundamental Reality of Metaphor: Biosemiotics and Animal Mind

  • Wendy WheelerEmail author
Original Paper


This article argues that organisms, defined by a semi-permeable membrane or skin separating organism from environment, are (must be) semiotically alert responders to environments (both Innenwelt and Umwelt). As organisms and environments complexify over time, so, necessarily, does semiotic responsiveness, or ‘semiotic freedom’. In complex environments, semiotic responsiveness necessitates increasing plasticity of discernment, or discrimination. Such judgements, in other words, involve interpretations. The latter, in effect, consist of translations of a range of sign relations which, like metaphor, are based on transfers (carryings over) of meanings or expressions from one semiotic ‘site’ to another. The article argues that what humans describe as ‘metaphor’ (and believe is something which only pertains to human speech and mind and, in essence, is ‘not real’) is, in fact, fundamental to all semiotic and biosemiotic sign processes in all living things. The article first argues that metaphor and mind are immanent in all life, and are evolutionary, and, thus, that animals certainly do have minds. Following Heidegger and then Agamben, the article continues by asking about the place of animal mind in humans, and concludes that, as a kind of ‘night science’, ‘humananimal’ mind is central to the semiotics of Peircean abduction.


Mind Humananimal mind Abduction Metaphor Night-science 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London Metropolitan UniversityLondonEnglandUK

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