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The Role of Languaging in Human Evolution

An approach based on the theory of natural drift

Vincenzo Raimondi
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


The notion of languaging provides a new understanding of the intimate relationship between sociality and language. In this paper, I address the evolutionary emergence of language by subscribing to the autopoietic theory of natural drift (Maturana and Varela 1987; Varela et al. 1993; Maturana and Mpdozis 2000) I show that this systemic approach to evolution can offer the ideal epistemological background to evaluate the role of languaging throughout hominization. The central idea is that the languaging-based way of living acted as an attractor for the evolutionary process. This claim relies on three interrelated assumptions: 1) behavioral and relational habits may channel the course of genetic and structural change; 2) recursive coordination and specific forms of sociality set the systemic conditions for coexistence-through-languaging to be conserved over generations; 3) the conservation of these systemic conditions gives rise to a spiraling, positive-feedback process that involves body, cognition, and culture.


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Published Online: 2019-11-21
Published in Print: 2019-11-26

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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