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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