Loet, Karl, Steven  --

>      S: The difference between us and animals is basically language.

>       S: Why not 'check out' 'Biosemiotics'?

Dear Stan,

I don't understand the "bio" in this. If we distinguish between two systems
of reference for knowledge -- discursive knowledge to be attributed to
interhuman communication, and personal knowledge to be attributed to human
psychologies -- the latter one is biologically embedded by the body, but the
former is only embedded by human minds (which are of course embodied).
Knowledge can then also be globalized and become person-independent. In
other words: discursive knowledge is generated bottom-up, but control can be

      S: You raise a ramifying issue here.  Your focus here is on discursive 
knowledge, which is mediated by language (and its attendant developments).  
Inasmuch as it learned by individuals, it is top down.  It is society's way of 
inhabiting minds.  It is our main means of getting outside ourselves; language 
our major externalizing medium.  Internally we have intimations, intuitions, 
These may come to be harnessed by linguistic forms, top-down.  Internal 
excursions unharnessed by language are the basis of creativity and criminality.
     Note that in language we do make a functional distinction here: the 
is carried by the First Person, present progressive tense, the external in 
Person, universal present tense reports.  These cannot be mixed, although one 
can be bracketed within the other.  In our culture the external is privileged 
(except in, e.g., modern poetry).

Shouldn't it therefore be "psycho-semiotics"? "Bio-semiotics" is only valid
for personalized knowledge.

     Here I must inform you that biosemiotics has two prongs.  Originally (von 
Uexküll) it was about ethology, more latterly it is based in the 'language' of 
genetics and DNA.  All of this was/is external, discursive.  I think I can say 
there is as yet no 'psychosemiotics', in the sense I think you mean it, as 
Semiotics is taken to be about communication and interpretation.

 (For the good order, let me hasten to add that
the two systems of knowledge -- the interpersonal and the personal ones --
are reflexive to each other.)

      Yes.   Internally one might -- in the discursive, Third Person mode -- 
try to 
interpret one's feelings and intuitions.  But this the external reaching in, 
controlling from outside.

Karl -- replying in part:


The difference between us and animals is that we can exchange foreground and 
background and discuss how the world changes - in our perception, not really. 
We can step back from the artefacts of our perceptional apparatus and try to 
white on black and not only black on white. Then we could discuss how the 
world presents itself if we use TWO ways of reading the mixture of black/white 

     von Uexküll showed that each species lives in its own 'innenwelt'.  So 
kind of animal has a different mind than any other.  If we could put all the 
together, we still would not have a complete view of existence (all those 
now extinct!).

That what is the collection of what we know and can know is delineated by the 
rules by which we contrast the foreground to the background.

      These rules could be quite different in different species.

Steven -- answering in part --

Dear Stan. Loet, List ...

I have never understood the idea of "biosemiotics." This, or any other  
qualified semeiotic, seems to introduce a fundamental misunderstanding  
about the nature of semeiotic theory.

      These terms have come about because of the natural tendency of discourses 
to fragment into specialities.  Thus, for some, biosemiotics centers around 
intracell communication based in the DNA 'language'.  Several specializations 
are becoming distinguished -- 'physiosemiotics', 'biosemiotics', 
'anthroposemiotics'.  This makes sense from an evolutionary, and materialist, 
point of view.  If humans have a property, then our ancestral systems must have 
had precursor systems from which these evolved.


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