Semiosis as an Emergent Process

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42 (1):78-116 (2006)
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Abstract

In this paper, we intend to discuss if and in what sense semiosis (meaning process, cf. C. S. Peirce) can be regarded as an "emergent" process in semiotic systems. It is not our problem here to answer when or how semiosis emerged in nature. As a prerequisite for the very formulation of these problems, we are rather interested in discussing the conditions which should be fulfilled for semiosis to be characterized as an emergent process. The first step in this work is to summarize a systematic analysis of the variety of emergence theories and concepts, elaborated by Achim Stephan. Along the summary of this analysis, we pose fundamental questions that have to be answered in order to ascribe a precise meaning to the term "emergence" in the context of an understanding of semiosis. After discussing a model for explaining emergence based on Salthe's hierarchical structuralism, which considers three levels at a time in a semiotic system, we present some tentative answers to those questions.

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Joao Queiroz
Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora

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