Biosemiotics as systems theory: an investigation into biosemiotics as the grounding for a new form of cultural analysis

Cannizzaro, Sara (2012) Biosemiotics as systems theory: an investigation into biosemiotics as the grounding for a new form of cultural analysis. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

This thesis examines the relation of systems theory to biosemiotics. To this end, it considers the claim that biosemiotics is an uneven development of systems theory. To do this, this thesis explores theories of 'modelling' and 'information' in biosemiotics from the enhanced point of view of systems theory. It will do so following the example set by Deely's 'archaeology of concepts' (1981). By means of the concept of 'isomorphism as structural similarity' (Bertalanffy 1945) the thesis argues that biosemiotics and cybernetics/systems theory share a systems thinking which is grounded in 'transdisciplinarity', 'history' and 'function'. This thesis also argues that such a common methodological perspective is an instance of historical continuity due primarily to biosemiotics' and systems theory's involvement with Tartu-Moscow semiotics. Subsequently, the thesis argues that biosemiotics' and cybernetics' systems thinking differ in their view of 'information'. It shows how biosemiotics broadly conceives information in terms of Peirce's notion of 'abduction', whereas cybernetics conceives information in terms of deduction. It also shows, as a consequence, how biosemiotics' modelling strategies are identifiable with logic as semiotics, while systems theory's modelling strategy is more closely identifiable with mathematical logic alone. Such a methodological difference is argued to be an 'uneven development' (Althusser 1965). The following thesis reveals much that biosemiotics has left unconsidered: the continuing relevance of systems theory, especially in relation to information and observership, and reveals this through the strength of the principle of abduction. Lastly, the thesis 'Biosemiotics as Systems Theory' provides the grounding for a new form of cultural analysis that supersedes the fallacies of semiology. It does so by proposing the following guidelines for the analysis of culture: substituting 'interpretation' with modelling, dispensing of 'representation' in favour of purely objective reality, and recasting 'motivation' in terms of cybersemiotic constraints.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: systems theory; biosemiotics; theory of modelling; theory of information; Deely's archaeology of concepts; isomorphism; cybernetics/systems theory
Subjects: 500 Natural Sciences and Mathematics > 570 Life sciences; biology
Department: School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
Depositing User: Chiara Repetto
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 11:43
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 11:43


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