, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 9–31 | Cite as

How Can the Study of the Humanities Inform the Study of Biosemiotics?

  • Donald Favareau
  • Kalevi Kull
  • Gerald Ostdiek
  • Timo Maran
  • Louise Westling
  • Paul Cobley
  • Frederik Stjernfelt
  • Myrdene Anderson
  • Morten Tønnessen
  • Wendy WheelerEmail author


This essay – a collection of contributions from 10 scholars working in the field of biosemiotics and the humanities – considers nature in culture. It frames this by asking the question ‘Why does biosemiotics need the humanities?’. Each author writes from the background of their own disciplinary perspective in order to throw light upon their interdisciplinary engagement with biosemiotics. We start with Donald Favareau, whose originary disciplinary home is ethnomethodology and linguistics, and then move on to Paul Cobley’s contribution on general semiotics and Kalevi Kull’s on biosemiotics. This is followed by Cobley (again) with Frederick Stjernfelt who contribute on biosemiotics and learning, then Gerald Ostdiek from philosophy, and Morten Tønnessen focusing upon ethics in particular. Myrdene Anderson writes from anthropology, while Timo Maran and Louise Westling provide a view from literary study. The essay closes with Wendy Wheeler reflecting on the movement of biosemiotics as a challenge, often via the ecological humanities, to the kind of so-called ‘postmodern’ thinking that has dominated humanities critical thought in the universities for the past 40 years. Virtually all the matters gestured to in outline above are discussed in much more satisfying detail in the topics which follow.


Semiotics Biosemiotics Science Humanities Anthropology Ethnomethodology Linguistics Philosophy Literature Critical theory Ethics Evolution Metaphor Poetry Learning 



I would like to thank the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies for encouraging the affirmation of the interdisciplinary nature of biosemiotics by suggesting the compilation of this multi-contributor essay on the importance of the humanities in the scientifically grounded biosemiotic endeavour.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Favareau
    • 1
  • Kalevi Kull
    • 1
  • Gerald Ostdiek
    • 1
  • Timo Maran
    • 1
  • Louise Westling
    • 1
  • Paul Cobley
    • 1
  • Frederik Stjernfelt
    • 1
  • Myrdene Anderson
    • 1
  • Morten Tønnessen
    • 1
  • Wendy Wheeler
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.London Metropolitan UniversityLondonUK

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