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Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for a Transdisciplinary Theory of Consciousness, Cognition, Meaning and Communication

Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM,volume 8)

Abstract

The modern evolutionary paradigm combined with phenomenology forces us to view human consciousness as a product of evolution as well as accept humans as observers from the ‘inside of the universe’. The knowledge produced by science has first-person embodied consciousness combined with second-person meaningful communication in language as a prerequisite for third-person fallibilist scientific knowledge. Therefore, the study of consciousness forces us theoretically to encompass the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities in one framework of unrestricted or absolute naturalism, viewing the conscious lifeworld with its intentionality as well as the intersubjectivity of culture as a part of nature. But the sciences are without concepts of qualia; will and meaning and the European phenomenological-hermeneutic ‘sciences of meaning’ do not have an evolutionary foundation. It is therefore interesting that C.S. semiotics—in its modern form of a biosemiotics—was based on an evolutionary thinking and ecology of sign webs. But Cybersemiotics shows that it is also necessary to draw on our knowledge, from science and the technologically founded information sciences, systems theory and cybernetics to obtain a true transdisciplinary theory.

Keywords

  • Dark Matter
  • Causal Power
  • Conscious Awareness
  • Sense Experience
  • Autopoietic System

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    I find these three authors most relevant for the problem I here want to discuss, and there are multiple references to these writers in the reference list, whom I have selected as the most interesting defenders of the phenomenological transdisciplinary view.

  2. 2.

    When analysing Peirce’s work, it is clear that his three categories are foundational to his whole semiotic and pragmaticist paradigm that was developed over many years. Peirce attempted to prove mathematically that triadic relations cannot be broken down to duals, but it has never been widely accepted. But I find the phenomenological argumentation very convincing and currently supported by many other developments in science. But the fundamentality of the triadic thinking has been the stumbling block for many scholars failing to accept Peirce’s paradigm. But one should not underestimate how deep reflections of logic—including the logic of relations, time, reality, continuity, moment, perception and meaning—are connected to this groundbreaking invention of Peirce. Joseph J. Esposito (1980) Evolutionary Metaphysics: The development of Peirce’s Theory of Categories describes this quest in a most profound way.

  3. 3.

    Already before Popper, Peirce had a fallibilist theory of science. There is no absolute proof of truth in science.

  4. 4.

    Which is what Peirce calls ‘habits’ and an expression of his category of thirdness.

  5. 5.

    As convention goes, this refers to Peirce, C.S. (1994), which is the collected paper (CP).

  6. 6.

    Peirce considered pure mathematics to be a more fundamental discipline than logic. According to Peirce, logic comes from mathematics and not the other way around as some researchers and philosophers believe. His thinking seems to be close to that of Penrose (1997) here, but the semiotics Peirce creates is beyond anything imagined in Penrose’s paradigm.

  7. 7.

    For lack of a better word, a transdisciplinary paradigm is what I will call what we aim for. The concept transdisciplinary science is supposed to cover the sciences, as wells as humanities and social sciences, much like the German word ‘Wissenschaft’ or the Danish word ‘videnskab’. Basarab Nicolescu has written the Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity (2002), where he explores or rather develops the consequences of a transdisciplinary view of the world and the sciences.

  8. 8.

    Cartwright (1997: 165) and Shimony in footnote in Penrose (1997) also argue for the independence of biological knowledge.

  9. 9.

    But George F.E. Ellis (2004: 622) also accepts that there are four different worlds, though his fourth is mathematical abstract reality and not linguistic intersubjectivity.

  10. 10.

    A conundrum described in 1944 by Schrödinger (1967/2006: 163) in his What is Life? which was first printed in 1944.

  11. 11.

    Which can be another subject’s mind, an artefact, a piece of art or a text.

  12. 12.

    The question of what ‘it’ is denied by Bennett and Hacker (2007) as a wrong type of question in their Wittgensteinian-inspired pragmatic linguistic theory of mind. But I side with Searle (2007) on this problem that we cannot define the ontological dimension of this problem away.

  13. 13.

    Wikipedia writes, ‘Dark matter came to the attention of astrophysicists due to discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects determined from their gravitational effects, and mass calculated from the “luminous matter” they contain; such as stars, gas and dust. It was first postulated by Jan Oort in 1932 to account for the orbital velocities of stars in the Milky Way and Fritz Zwicky in 1933 to account for evidence of “missing mass” in the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters…. According to consensus among cosmologists, dark matter is believed to be composed primarily of a new, not yet characterized, type of subatomic particle’.

  14. 14.

    Peirce writes that tychism is ‘… absolute chance – pure tychism…’ (CP 6.322, c. 1909). So tychism is connected to firstness as real objective chance in the universe. But it has to be integrated with the secondness of resistance, facts and individuality to create thirdness to mediate connections between the two in synechism. This is connected to his pragmatism: ‘It is that synthesis of tychism and of pragmatism for which I long ago proposed the name, Synechism’ (CP 4.584, 1906). Synechism is ‘…that tendency of philosophical thought which insists upon the idea of continuity as of prime importance in philosophy and, in particular, upon the necessity of hypotheses involving true continuity’ (CP 6.169, 1902). This deep continuity between everything, including mind and matter as well as the three categories, is synechism:‘…I chiefly insist upon continuity, or Thirdness,…and that Firstness, or chance, and Secondness, or Brute reaction, are other elements, without the independence of which Thirdness would not have anything upon which to operate’ (CP 6.202, 1898).

  15. 15.

    As Peirce calls it.

  16. 16.

    In philosophy ‘hyle’ refers to matter or stuff; the material causes underlying change in Aristotelian philosophy. It is what remains the same in spite of the changes in form. In opposition to Democritus’ atomic ontology, hyle in Aristotle’s ontology is a plenum or a sort of field. Aristotle’s world is an uncreated eternal cosmos, but Peirce used the term in an evolutionary philosophy of a world that has an end and a beginning. Hylozoism—in this context—is the philosophical conjecture that all material things possess life, very much like Whitehead’s (1978) panexperientialism. It is not a form of animism either, as the latter tends to view life as taking the form of discrete spirits. Scientific hylozoism is a protest against a mechanical view of the world as dead, but, at the same time through synechism, upholds the idea of a unity of organic and inorganic nature and derives all actions of both types of matter from natural causes.

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Brier, S. (2013). Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for a Transdisciplinary Theory of Consciousness, Cognition, Meaning and Communication. In: Swan, L. (eds) Origins of Mind. Biosemiotics, vol 8. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5419-5_5

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