, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 105–120 | Cite as

Ententionality and Pertinence: Framing End-Directedness within Two Semiotic Theories

  • E. Israel Chávez BarretoEmail author


The purpose of this paper is to present a possible theoretical articulation between Terrence Deacon’s concept of ententionality and the concept of pertinence as posed by semio-linguist Luis J. Prieto. The advantage of such articulation is that it brings together two seemingly incompatible approaches within semiotics, namely the Peircean and the Saussurean ones. We start by subscribing to the definition of semiotics as the study of forms of knowledge in order to highlight the importance of analyzing intentional phenomena as semiosic phenomena. Afterwards, we present the concept of ententionality and the levels of organization (homeodynamics, morphodynamics and teleodynamics) that ultimately set the conditions for entention to emerge. Then, we present an analysis of this concept aided by Prieto’s notion of pertinence. Our main conclusion is that ententionality and teleodynamic organization presupposes the existence of a pertinence principle that enables the recognition of differences in the extrinsic conditions of a system, and that such recognition of differences is at the basis of proper intentional phenomena.


Entention Intentionality Teleology Relevance Terrence Deacon Luis J. Prieto Biosemiotics 



A sincere acknowledgement goes to Professor Kalevi Kull for his advice during the making, and re-making, of some parts of this paper. I also want to express my gratitude to the kind colleagues, and excellent semioticians, who reviewed the first submitted version of this paper; their suggestions helped to make this text a lot better. I would also like to thank Tyler J. Benett and the editors of this journal for improving the grammar of this text. The research for this article was aided by the grant IUT2-44 from the Department of Semiotics of the University of Tartu.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SemioticsUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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