The cybersemiotic model of communication: An evolutionary model of the threshold between semiosis and informational exchange

Søren Brier 1 , 1
  • 1 Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Politics, and Philosophy.


The present paper discusses various suggestions for a philosophical framework for a transdisciplinary information science or a semiotic doctrine. These are: the mechanical materialistic, the pan-informational, the Luhmanian second order cybernetic approach, Peircian biosemiotics and finally, the pan-semiotic approach. The limitations of each are analyzed. The conclusion is that we will not have to choose between a cybernetic-informational and a semiotic approach. A combination of a Peircian-based biosemiotics with autopoiesis theory, second order cybernetics, and information science is suggested in a five-levelled cybersemiotic framework. The five levels are 1) a level of Firstness, 2) a level of mechanical matter, energy, and force as Secondness, 3) a cybernetic and thermodynamic level of information, 4) a level of sign games and 5) a level of conscious language games.

These levels are then used to differentiate levels of information systems, sign and language games in human communication. In our model, Maturana and Varela's description of the logic of the living as autopoietic is accepted and expanded with Luhmann's generalization of the concept of autopoiesis to also cover psychological and socio-communicative systems. Adding a Peircian concept of semiosis to Luhmann's theory in the framework of biosemiotics enables us to view the interplay of mind and body as a sign play. I have in a previous publication (see list of references) suggested the term ‘sign play’ pertaining to exosemiotics processes between animals in the same species by stretching Wittgenstein's language game concept into the animal world of signs. A new concept of intrasemiotics designates the semiosis of the interpenetration between the biological and psychological autopoietic systems as Luhmann defines them in his theory. I am suggesting a cybersemiotic model to combine these approaches, defining various concepts like thought-semiotics, phenosemiotic and intrasemiotics, combining them with the already known concepts of exosemiotics, ecosemiotics, and endosemiotics into a new view of self-organizing semiotic processes in living systems. Thus a new semiotic level of description is generated, where mind-body interactions can be understood on the same description level. This is the direction suggested to work in to create a broad philosophy of information, cognitive, and communication science that makes it possible for us to see the different approaches not as mutually exclusive, but rather as mutually complementary in accepting an ontology where reality do have structures and processes, but the foundation is hyper-complex and therefore not to be reduced by any knowledge system.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.