Man, nature, and semiotic modelling or How to create forests and backyards with language

  • Prisca Augustyn Department of Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Literature, Florida Atlantic University
Keywords: nature/culture, human/non-human, modelling systems, cognitive metaphor, Juri Lotman, Thomas A. Sebeok, Bruno Latour, Andreas Weber, revolution of the life sciences, political ecology, economic geography


This paper explains how we create concepts such as the forest or the backyard through language. Reflecting on Andreas Weber’s hope for a revolution of the life sciences and a re-evaluation of the role human beings play in nature, this paper adopts as a starting point Bruno Latour’s characterization of the distinction between nature and culture as an illusion that came with Modernity. Theoretical notions from modelling systems theory and cognitive linguistics explain that while language plays a key role in constructing new models of nature, new cognitive habits and changes of belief depend on face-to-face and non-verbal communication with other organisms, human and non-human.


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