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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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The biosemiosis of prescriptive information

David L. Abel1


Citation Information: Semiotica. Volume 2009, Issue 174, Pages 1–19, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: 10.1515/semi.2009.026, April 2009

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Exactly how do the sign/symbol/token systems of endo- and exo-biosemiosis differ from those of cognitive semiosis? Do the biological messages that integrate metabolism have conceptual meaning? Semantic information has two subsets: Descriptive and Prescriptive. Prescriptive information instructs or directly produces nontrivial function. In cognitive semiosis, prescriptive information requires anticipation and “choice with intent” at bona fide decision nodes. Prescriptive information either tells us what choices to make, or it is a recordation of wise choices already made. Symbol systems allow recordation of deliberate choices and the transmission of linear digital prescriptive information. Formal symbol selection can be instantiated into physicality using physical symbol vehicles (tokens). Material symbol systems (MSS) formally assign representational meaning to physical objects. Even verbal semiosis instantiates meaning into physical sound waves using an MSS. Formal function can also be incorporated into physicality through the use of dynamically-inert (dynamically-incoherent or -decoupled) configurable switch-settings in conceptual circuits. This article examines the degree to which biosemiosis conforms to the essential formal criteria of prescriptive semiosis and cybernetic management.

Keywords:: complexity theory; biocybernetics; biosemiotics; emergence; self-organization; systems theory

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