Saturday, March 3, 2007

Book intro

I'll like to tell a bit about the book Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis, edited by Marcello Barbieri (Springer Verlag, 2006, ISBN: 978-1-4020-4813-5). As a hardcover edition (the only form for the present) it costs $ 189 (139,95 €).
The book - dedicated to the memory of Thomas Sebeok and his vision of a synthesis of biology and semiotics - is addressed to students, researchers and academics who are not familiar with biosemiotics and want to know more about it. It is a highly qualified introduction to this new field because it is written by many of its major contributors. At the same time, it contains the most recent developments in the basic issues of biosemiotics and provides therefore a fairly accurate portrait of the present state of the art.
The book is divided into three parts. The first is dedicated to a brief historical account and the last to a few research applications, whereas the central, and longest, part of the book is devoted to theoretical issues. This is because the real obstacle to biological progress, today, is not lack of data but a pervasive theoretical paradigm that continues to deny the semiotic nature of life, or to pay only lip-service to it, thus depriving the biological codes of all their revolutionary potential.
Biosemiotics is truly a new biological “synthesis” because it brings together biology and studies of sign systems (semiotics, linguistics, communication studies) and effectively brings down the old divide between the “Two Cultures”. Its main challenge is to introduce meaning in biology, on the grounds that organic sign action, codes and processes of interpretation are fundamental components of the living world. Biosemiotics has become in this way the leading edge of the research in the fundamentals of life, and is a young exciting field on the move. This book wants to bring it out of the small niche in which it has been developed so far and make it available to all those who are prepared to accept the challenge raised by the discovery of the genetic code and of biological meaning.
Here is the Springer link to the book, and here is the list of contents:
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Editorial : Marcello Barbieri: The Challenge of Biosemiotics

PART 1 – Historical points

Chapter 1 Don Favareau: The Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics
Chapter 2 Tuomo Jämsä : Semiosis in Evolution
Chapter 3 Marcello Barbieri: Has Biosemiotics come of age? – and Postscript

PART 2 – Theoretical Issues

Chapter 4 Howard Pattee : The necessity of Biosemiotics: Matter-symbol complementarity
Chapter 5 Stanley Salthe: What is the Scope of Biosemiotics? Information in Living Systems
Chapter 6 Jesper Hoffmeyer: Semiotic Scaffolding of living systems
Chapter 7 Kalevi Kull: Biosemiotics and biophysics – the fundamental approaches to the study of life
Chapter 8 Marcello Barbieri: Is the Cell a Semiotic System?
Chapter 9 Stefan Artmann : Computing Codes versus Interpreting Life
Chapter 10 Anton Markos, Filip Grygar, Karel Kleisner, and Zden_k Neubauer: Toward a Darwinian biosemiotics. Life as mutual understanding
Chapter 11 Tommi Vehkavaara: From the Logic of Science to the Logic of the Living. The relevance of Charles Peirce to biosemiotics
Chapter 12 Marcel Danesi: Towards a Standard Terminology for (Bio)semiotics
Chapter 13 Gérard Battail : Information theory and error-correcting codes in genetics and biological evolution

PART 3 – Biosemiotic Research

Chapter 14 Marcella Faria: RNA as code makers: a biosemiotic view of RNAi and cell immunity
Chapter 15 Luis Emilio Bruni: Cellular Semiotics and Signal Transduction
Chapter 16 Stephen Philip Pain: Inner Representations and Signs in Animals
Chapter 17 Johannes Huber and Ingolf Schmid-Tannwald: A Biosemiotic Approach to Epigenetics: Constructivist Aspects of Oocyte-to-Embryo Transition
Chapter 18 Dario Martinelli: Language and interspecific communication experiments: a case to reopen?
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Sunday, February 4, 2007

Using the blog

A preliminary dummy...

All are welcome to post comments. To make a separate new postings, you have to be inscribed into the blog as a contributor (as you know, for all group blogs, this is the single editorial principle). But even if you are not, you are welcome to email to one of the contributors a letter, commentary, question, or brief essay that he or she can post, clearly stating your name as author in the beginning.

How to post new postings:
1. see if you are logged into the blog: See upper right corner: If you see a "sign out" sign, you are logged in. - Otherwise click on Log in, and use your email address and blogger password to login.
2. When logged in, you may see the word "Dashbord" in the upper right corner. (If you click on that, you may be able to edit your profile etc. Then click on the relevant "View blog" sign for the actual blog.)
3. When logged in, and you see in the upper right corner the sequence "New Post / Customize / Sign out", click "New Post".
4. Edit your post. (Here, using Firefox as browser is preferable). Remember to give your post a title. (You may invent a new lable or use existing ones). Press Publish or Save to return and go on later. (When logged into the blog, you may also re-edit your own postings later on).

How to introduce yourself
Those inscribed may create introductions to their research interests etc. by their blogger identity profile including there linking to a personal website. Newcomers and other readers are welcome to leave a self-introduction by commenting to this post here.


This post is meant to leave room for anyone interested in biosemiotics to leave comments below with self-introductions, in order to establish a space for more informal communication. However, we'll like to be able to get back to you, so please also indicate a website or an email address where we can contact you. Thanks, and welcome!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Introduction to the biosemiosis blog

Here is an ultra-brief intro to what biosemiosis is, that is, the natural processes of biosemiosis, and the scientific study of such processes.

The process of sign ("information") production, transfer, modification, translation, and interpretation are all called semiosic processes. They involve living beings, and life is only possible because of semiosis - biosemiosis. As one of the pioneers of biosemiotics, Tom Sebeok said, the process of message exchanges, or semiosis, is an indispensable characteristic of all terrestrial life forms. It is this capacity for containing, replicating, and expressing messages, of extracting their signification, that, in fact, distinguishes them more from the nonliving than any other traits often cited. (Of course, human agents can make artifacts such as computers or robots, and use these to simulate communication). "The study of the twin processes of communication and signification can be regarded as ultimately a branch of the life science, or as belonging in large part to nature, in some part to culture, which is, of course, also a part of nature." (Sebeok 1991: 22) "The life science and the sign science thus mutually imply one another." (Sebeok 1994: 114)
The term biosemiotics is a label of the scientific and scholarly study of biosemiosis. See also more on definitions on the international website of Biosemiotics:

This blog is intended as an additional communication channel for all interested in research (scientific and scholarly) into biosemiosic processes. As a blog, it is more informal than standard university web pages — contributors and commentators can feel free to participate in the debate and to exchange information without having to go through any process of evaluation by peers or experts first. We'll try to keep a sober, deliberately cool and focused form of discourse, and the blog will be a moderated one (by Claus Emmeche, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Kalevi Kull, Don Favareau and Marcello Barbieri). If you like to be technically 'inscribed' allowing you to make new postings and not only comment on preexisting ones, please contact one of us).

We welcome contributions from persons outside the team listed, suggestions for new contributors, and comments from all blog readers. Comments may be posted with a little time delay as they may have to be approved by one of the team members, to avoid advertisement spam. Have fun!