Evolving Self-reference: Matter, Symbols, and Semantic Closure

  • Howard Hunt Pattee
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 7)


A theory of emergent or open-ended evolution that is consistent with the epistemological foundations of physical theory and the logic of self-reference requires complementary descriptions of the material and symbolic aspects of events. The matter-symbol complementarity is explained in terms of the logic of self-replication, and physical distinction of laws and initial conditions. Physical laws and natural selection are complementary models of events. Physical laws describe those invariant events over which organisms have no control. Evolution by natural selection is a theory of how organisms increase their control over events. A necessary semantic closure relation is defined relating the material and symbolic aspects of organisms capable of open-ended evolution.


Artificial Life Symbol System Symbolic Model Symbolic Description Complementary Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard Hunt Pattee
    • 1
  1. 1.Binghamton UniversityVestalUSA

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