In the quest for novelty: Kauffman’s biosphere and Lotman’s semiosphere
The emergence of novelty in the realm of the living remains, despite the long tradition of evolutionary biology, unwelcome, calling for explanation by old, established knowledge. The prevailing neodarwinian evolutionary paradigm approaches living beings as passive outcomes of external (and extraneous, hence “blind”) formative forces. Many teachings opposing Darwinism also take the existence of eternal, immutable and external laws as a necessary prerequisite. Ironically enough, authors who oppose Darwinian theory, and admit that living beings possess a “self”, often accentuate internal, ideal and eternal harmony, which is incompatible with historical changes; moreover such harmony is again imposed by external, atemporal “laws”. I describe here a third approach embodied by the names of two unrelated scholars, Stuart Kauffman (biology, physics) and Juri Lotman (semiotics, culturology). Their approach suggests that the evolution of organisms, minds, cultures — is a continuous negotiation (semiosis) of ‘laws’, driving to ever broader spaces of freedom and constantly larger autonomy of existence.