How Is Meaning Grounded in the Organism?

Biosemiotics 3 (2):131-146 (2010)
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Abstract
In this paper we address the interrelated questions of why and how certain features of an organism’s environment become meaningful to it. We make the case that knowing the biology is essential to understanding the foundation of meaning-making in organisms. We employ Miguel Nicolelis et al’s seminal research on the mammalian somatosensory system to enrich our own concept of brain-objects as the neurobiological intermediary between the environment and the consequent organismic behavior. In the final section, we explain how brain-objects advance the ongoing discussion of what constitutes a biosemiotic system. In general, this paper acknowledges Marcello Barbieri’s call for biology to make room for meaning, and makes a contribution to that end
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