Multiplicity and Welt


  • Yogi Hale Hendlin Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 530 Parnassus Ave., Suite 366, San Francisco, CA, 94143–1390



biosemiotics, Gilles Deleuze, Jakob von Uexküll, functional circle, different levels of semiosis


This article interprets Jakob von Uexküll’s understanding of different beings’ Innenwelt, Gegenwelt, and umwelt through Deleuzian insights of multiplicity, context, and particularity. This Deleuzian interpolation into Uexküll’s insights acknowledges the absence of a unitary ‘human’ view of nature, recognizing instead that plural viewpoints of cultures, subgroups and individuals understand and interpret natural signs variously not just because of ideology but because of physiology and contrastive fundamental ways of accessing the world. Recent formative research in comparative neurobiology suggests that universal anthropological claims of cross-cultural semiotic similarity are incorrect.

Interpreting biosemiotics as the investigation of apprehending the Innenwelt of radically different others (species), such semiotic understandings themselves are not necessarily generalizable between different members of the same species in a group, same-species groups in different natural cultural contexts, or even (as with humans) the same animal at different points of time (based on new understandings, patterns, or events of meaning altering interpretations of self and events). Conjoining Deleuze’s insights of the complexity of multiplicity with Uexküll’s scientific-imaginative system of comprehending other creatures’ ways of understanding their world offers an increased self-reflexivity regarding the simultaneous levels of actual semiotic activity for biosemiotic inquiry.


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How to Cite

Hendlin, Y. H. (2016). Multiplicity and Welt. Sign Systems Studies, 44(1/2), 94–110.