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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 17, 2011

Signs of the times: Mind, evolution, and the twilight of postmodernity

Charles J. Lumsden
From the journal

The creative imagination changes itself and the world in ways we cannot anticipate. This restless creativity gathers not just refutable facts; it hunts self-transforming revelations, semiotic prizes acclaimed and defended in the realms of inner awareness and political power. So doing, it eludes final description in any one set of signs. This means, I argue here, that sign systems must themselves give chase. Texts of this kind will not be the fixed embalmed arrays of signs and symbols that have sustained our civilizations to date. These texts will be a new kind of artificial life, creative agents that rewrite and re-express themselves on-the-fly, in ways unpredictable by their founding authors. The deconstructive turn in postmodern theory sought interpretive vistas and strange loops to be teased, once upon a time, from each embalmed text. Beyond postmodernity is an aesthetics and a critical theory of empowered texts — sign arrays never quite the same and that, like time itself, sit still for no one. After an initial push by us, they self-evolve. Human sociobiology, asking how culture rewrites the agenda of replicating genes, provides a first glimpse of this new adventure in semiotics and human self-discovery.

Published Online: 2011-03-17
Published in Print: 2011-February

© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York

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