Integrating biosemiotics: From a semiological point of view
Keywords:biosemiotics, integrationism, Charles Peirce, Roy Harris, semiology, philosophy of semiotics
This paper is a study in the ‘philosophy of semiotics’. It is centred on a critical approach to the Peircean sign conception, which underlies biosemiotics and the global perspective on signs. The present discussion tackles questions of ontological and epistemological interest, which it does by taking a distinctly semiological point of reference. The semiology which the present critique draws inspiration from is Roy Harris’ integrationism, an approach to human communication which rejects Saussurean semiology – the common target of Peircean semiotics. Integrationism explains signs in relation to human activities. It shares with biosemiotics a view of reality as speciesspecific, but takes a skeptical position towards the investigation of non-human signs on the grounds that it implies a metalanguage impervious to the radical indeterminacy of the sign. Integrationists take this indeterminacy as the starting point for their reflections on human communication.