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Upside-Down Gods$
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Peter Harries-Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823270347

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823270347.001.0001

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Toward the Semiosphere

Toward the Semiosphere

(p.193) 8 Toward the Semiosphere
Upside-Down Gods

Peter Harries-Jones

Fordham University Press

Organisms not only belong to ecological niches in the physical sense, but also to semiotic niches whose cues are visual, acoustic, chemical, and which must be correctly interpreted for the individual organism to survive. Biosemantics (Ruth Millikan) agrees with Bateson that communicative domains of creatura lie somewhere between the propositional structures of language used by humans and random trial-and-error behavior, arguing that their percepts derive from ‘recursive activity’ in their own locale, where the multiple presence of local natural signs preclude any need for rationality and/or conscious choice which western scientists and philosophers have consistently demanded for ‘intelligence’ in animal behavior. Biosemiotics supports Bateson’s double description, or code-duality (both analog and digital), as being required at the level of cellular response, or endosemiotics (Jesper Hoffmeyer). Abduction, or ‘guess-work,’ a term derived from C. S. Peirce, describes the means by which creatura take initial percepts, always tentative interpretation, to the formation of perceptual judgment. Biosemiotics also recognizes the swarm intelligence of existing microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses as proto-semiosis, thus describing viruses as double agents, namely genome editors that are both lytic and supportive of stability and advancement of life.

Keywords:   abduction, biosemantics, biosemiotics, code duality, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Ruth Millikan, meaning rationalism, C. S. Peirce, proto-semiotics, viruses

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